Founded in 2017, Export Connect exists to help Australian businesses develop the strategies and connections they need to export successfully and grow.

Our Capabilities

The value of Export Connect’s services to Australian business is proven by our work. Since founding in June 2017, we’ve delivered:

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Market Assessments
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Workshops & Forums
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Online workshops & Webinars

Our Team


Najib Lawand

Founding Director

Najib Lawand founded Export Connect in June 2017 in order to use the skills, connections and expertise he acquired over 25 years in the industry to help food & agribusinesses prepare for the right markets and connect with the right buyers and grow.

Najib is highly experienced in export market development, having spent a quarter of a century leading Australian food-export businesses and agri-food industry development teams. In addition to successfully marketing a born-global health food bar, Najib has exported and/or supported export market development for over 300 Australian food and agribusiness brands spanning across ambient, fresh and frozen categories to markets including South East Asia, North Asia and the Middle East.
Najib is also passionate about developing the next generation of export market development leaders via our popular internship programme and by serving on the UNSW International Business Advisory Board.

Howard Hurwitz

Market Development Director

Howard is a highly experienced FMCG sales and business development expert with an an outstanding record of achievement across Australian national key accounts as well as international export market development, specialising in the Asian, Pacific, and Middle East regions. He’s developed and launched proprietary and private label brands in national accounts across different categories and trade channels.

Howard has over three decades worth of experience in food marketing, having worked as the Export Manager for Cerebos Australia and more recently, as the the International Sales Manager and National Account Manager for Birch & Waite, where he was responsible for profitable sales and business growth nationally and across a range of international markets.


Oujan Paad

Business & Project Executive

Oujan is our Business and Project Executive, and another successful graduate of the Export Connect Internship Programme. Since joining Export Connect in November 2017, he has liaised with over 50 domestic and international clients and stakeholders to develop market appraisals for the GCC and Asia in addition to capability-building workshops and industry export strategy plans.

Oujan graduated from Macquarie University with a high distinction average in Commerce, majoring in Marketing and International Business. While completing his degree, he also worked as a Marketing Assistant for a prominent preventative healthcare company operating out of NSW and Tasmania, helping to develop creative and informative digital content by collaborating with Exercise Physiologists, Occupational Therapists, and other allied health professionals.

Oujan plays an active role in Export Connect’s internship program; collaborating with 5 universities across the state to recruit, manage and mentor the students as part of their business undergraduate degrees and MBA programs.


Alexia Matsas

Project Manager

Alexia joined our team at Export Connect in February 2021 as a Business and Project Coordinator. Prior to this, she served as a Project Intern for 3 months and helped to develop workshop materials. She also worked with some of our clients including Alkalife, Blue Hills Honey and Gurneys Cider.

She graduated from the University of Technology Sydney (UTS) in 2020 with a double degree in Business and Creative Intelligence and Innovation, majoring in Marketing and Business Law. 

During her studies, she had a chance to travel and spent 2 months in Jakarta, Indonesia as a Marketing and Business Development Intern with F45 Training. This allowed her to work with local gyms to develop their marketing strategies.

At Export Connect, Alexia’s role is primarily to engage with clients and stakeholders to create project material, market-specific pitch decks and assist in the facilitation of inbound and outbound missions and events. Plus, she’s also completed a certification in Project Management.


Marie Janssen

Project Manager

Marie joined the team back in April 2021 as part of our internship program while studying at the University of Technology, Sydney. There, she studied a Bachelor of Business, majoring in International Business with sub majors in Marketing and Tourism Management.

Prior to joining us at Export Connect, Marie worked at EdTech company Atomi, where she worked as a Business Studies/Commerce Senior Content Creator. In this role, she developed video and text lessons teaching commerce concepts to studies in years 7-12 across Australia and some international markets.

In her role as Project Coordinator at Export Connect, Marie will be responsible for developing market insight reports, competitor analyses, market-specific pitch decks and undertaking stakeholder engagement. She’s also the person behind our LinkedIn posts!

Internship Programme

The Export Connect Internship Programme offers university students the chance to gain real-world export market development experience as part of their course curriculum, with a special focus on the food and agribusiness industry. From day one, our interns have the opportunity to work on a wide variety of real industry projects, enabling them to develop hands-on business skills, gain practical and up-to-date industry and market knowledge, and build their professional network. Our interns work across a broad range of tasks and projects – from export market assessments to buyer pitch development, export workshops, digital solutions and market specific food taster events.


“Being able to work so closely with Najib has allowed me to gain industry insight into the export/food industry which is an amazing opportunity at this stage of my career path. The small team has allowed for a very cohesive and friendly working environment.”

- Louisa

“I felt I was being listened to.... I got to present in front of the clients in Melbourne, as well as during Company Day 1 in front of the whole Export Connect Team. I also joined Najib during the ANZ bank breakfast and met ANZ.”

- Yuliya

“I was provided with a great deal of autonomy and responsibility in creating a new product from the ground up, an experience which really challenged my problem-solving and creativity skills. It was incredibly rewarding experience that I would recommend to anyone looking to gain experience and develop their skillsets.”

- Matthew

Partner Universities