Detailed News


Media Release: Appointment of ACBC National CEO

18 July 2016

The Chairman and President of the Australia China Business Council (ACBC), Mr John Brumby is pleased to announce the appointment of Ms Helen Sawczak as the new Chief Executive Officer of the ACBC, Australia’s premier body for closer business and trade relationship between China and Australia.

“On behalf of the ACBC Board, I warmly welcome Ms Sawczak to this important role. She will be leading this key organisation at a crucial time for Australia-China relations. China is now the largest driver of growth in the world economy and the world’s biggest economy in purchasing parity terms. It is by far Australia's largest trading partner, with two way trade now in excess of $$155.5 billion per annum. Our future security and prosperity is inextricably linked to our relationship with China” Mr Brumby said. “Ms Sawczak’s experience as Head of Communications at ANZ, National Manager Corporate Responsibility & Stakeholder Relations at Australia Post and Assistant Company Secretary at Telstra, will be a great asset to the Council as it boosts its capacity to build closer economic relations between Australia and China”.

“Ms Sawczak has built an outstanding career as a corporate lawyer both in Australia and overseas advising companies establishing joint ventures in China, as well as acting for Chinese companies raising capital by listing on the Australian Stock Exchange before moving into management in some of Australia’s largest companies. She has the strategic and organisational leadership skills and expertise in both private and government organisations to lead the ACBC through its next phase of change, growth and development.” Mr Brumby concluded.

Ms Sawczak said she was delighted to have the opportunity to lead the ACBC at this important stage of Australia’s relationship with China, as Australian businesses seek to pursue the advantages provided by the China-Australia Free Trade Agreement against the backdrop of a Chinese economy in transition.

“The ACBC is undoubtedly the preeminent organisation dedicated to promoting bilateral business between Australia and China, and I am thrilled to be joining at such a strategic time. The entry into force of the new free trade agreement heralds many exciting new opportunities for Australian business, and I look forward to working with the Board and the State and Territory branches to ensure our members continue to receive relevant and contemporary information, as well as opportunities for their businesses to succeed in the new digital economy.

Helen Sawczak - Biography

Helen started her career as a corporate lawyer at international law firms both in Australia and overseas, and as in-house counsel for major companies. In Australia, Helen worked in the China practice of Minter Ellison, and then moved to Moscow to work for Clifford Chance acting for European and American clients participating in the privatisation and investment in former Soviet Union state industries. During this time Helen also spent three months in Kazakhstan working on a resources joint venture.

After returning to Australia, Helen obtained a position as in-house counsel with Alcoa of Australia and dealt with all legal and corporate governance matters relating to the company’s alumina and aluminium production, including the sale of Alcoa’s rolling mill plant in Geelong and managing the Joint Venture Board meetings for the Portland smelter. Helen then spent ten years at Telstra in various positions including Corporate Counsel, National Manager Corporate Security and Assistant Company Secretary. Helen was responsible for drafting Telstra’s Australian, US, and Japanese annual reports, as well as the prospectuses for the privatisation and public share offer. She was then appointed National Manager Corporate Responsibility and Stakeholder Relations for Australia Post, where she developed their first Corporate Responsibility Strategy, which was endorsed by the Board. Helen then moved to ANZ as Head of Communications for Australia where she was responsible for all internal and external communications related to the bank’s Australian business including retail, commercial, wealth, insurance, risk, operations, human resources, product development, strategy and marketing. Helen was also responsible for writing the CEO’s speeches, editorials, messages and presentations and she also led the Bank’s first foray into social media.

Helen has always been a keen Chinese language student, and studied Mandarin throughout her secondary and tertiary education, which included three long-term study trips to Nanjing University and Fudan University in Shanghai. More recently Helen undertook Chinese postgraduate studies at the University of Melbourne and graduated in 2016 with First Class Honours.