From Boots to Suits: Career Pathways for ADF Members at Systematiq

Though some assume that soldiers, sailors, and aviators all come from a similar mould, the reality is that this broad grouping consists of some of the most varied and interesting individuals out there. Whether they are specialists in logistics, tactical operations or advanced technology, the people who make up the Australian Defence Force are anything but uniform, and their skills are invaluable to companies like Systematiq, where we are eager to bring more veterans on board as part of the team. As a consulting firm specialising in Defence, Rail, and Infrastructure, Systematiq recognises the unique talents and experiences that veterans can offer beyond their often-stereotyped traits.

Veterans bring an invaluable understanding of the complex processes within the ADF, including equipment, technology, people, culture, and decision-making structures, as well as the specialised jargon that comes with it. Their expertise in specific domains, honed over years in uniform, translates well not just to Defence projects, but to other industries as well.

However, despite their highly developed skill sets, many ADF members struggle to recognise how their experiences apply in the civilian world. This is where Systematiq can make a difference by recognising the unique value that veterans bring to our teams and by assisting them make a successful transition to civilian employment.

Service life is characterised by a strong sense of identity that is often tied to rank, uniform, job specialty and purpose. The lifestyle itself is unique, revolving around posting cycles, deployments, and communal activities like sport, physical training, and socialising in the messes. It can be difficult to say goodbye to this way of life, even when one recognises that it is time to move on.

Systematiq’s unique culture, which values diversity, integrity, and outcomes, often proves to be a great fit for former ADF personnel who join the company. Led by two former ADF members as co-directors, it provides a dynamic and inclusive work environment that fosters collaboration among veterans and civilians alike. For many it feels both familiar and fresh. It’s an environment where veterans can continue to make a positive impact and contribute to meaningful projects. The company encourages constant learning through courses and on-the-job training and seeks out self-starters and individuals who take initiative.

There are a range of career pathways to support ADF members who are ready to embark on a new chapter in their lives. Veterans can join our team as consultants or sub-contractors, providing direct support to clients across Defence and other industries in a variety of disciplines, including Project Management, Integrated Logistics Support (ILS), Systems Engineering, Bid Writing and Management, and Training Services. Alternatively, veterans can pursue roles in support functions such as Finance, Human Resources, or Administration.

Career Specialisations for Veterans

Project Management is crucial for ensuring successful project delivery, and it demands strong leadership and management skills. Fortunately, ADF veterans possess these skills in abundance. Many have developed transferable skills such as planning, risk management, and stakeholder management, which are essential for becoming a project manager in all industries. Additionally, ADF personnel are experts in understanding work breakdown structures and schedules, albeit in a different format and application. Therefore, with some formal training in project management, they can quickly learn to apply these skills in a new setting.

Systematiq Project Manager and former ADF member Matthew Farrell provides some insight on the transition from defence personnel to a project management career.

‘I think in general, day to day organisation, planning and management is a piece that all Non-Commissioned officers and in particular, Senior Non-Commissioned Officers learn and develop very well.’

‘By the time a soldier reaches Senior ranks, they have not only developed skillsets of the soldier, but have commenced a transition into management, whereby responsibilities grow to include the development of higher-level documents and management of personnel and equipment portfolios.’

‘I think the hardest part,’ he adds, ‘is acknowledging the skillsets they have and ensuring the understanding of how this can be applied in the civil sector.’

In addition, ADF veterans with backgrounds in maintenance and supply bring invaluable experience to ILS, a critical aspect of all Defence acquisition and sustainment contracts. Their skills in equipment

planning, maintenance, technical documentation, equipment utilisation, technical data management, and equipment disposal are highly transferable to ILS, which is also known as Asset Management in other industries such as Rail. Whether veterans have mastered all these skills or only some, they can apply and grow their knowledge and experience at Systematiq as an ILS practitioner, supporting Defence and other industries.

Systems Engineering is another area where veterans with engineering backgrounds can offer valuable support to Systematiq’s clients. The ADF operates complex systems and equipment that require advanced Systems Engineering capabilities. Veterans can apply their skills across systems architecture, requirements analysis, and system design to support client projects. They can also help with other aspects of Systems Engineering, including reliability-centred maintenance consulting, through-life capability management, and systems safety management.

Bid Writing and Management is crucial for securing new business and winning contracts. Veterans from the ADF have valuable transferable skills in this field, despite usually not having formal experience working on tenders.

Matthew Farrell highlights the fact that Senior Non-Commissioned Officers, in particular, are well suited to this role.

‘Typically, at this stage (8-10Yrs) of their career, Senior members become Defence writing experts, and develop a huge range of skills—from interpersonal relationships and approachability, to a customer-centric awareness which drives the business forward and further deepens relationships with stakeholders within Defence and the civil sector alike.’

The strong communication and stakeholder engagement skills of ex-defence personnel are essential for successful bids, as are their leadership and organisational skills for bid management. Their military training includes writing formal communication to a high standard, and they also have comprehensive knowledge of ADF equipment and services requirements, as well as broader contextual understanding, which makes them highly suitable. A career in Systematiq’s Pre-Contracts team as a bid writer, co-ordinator or manager can be particularly rewarding when supporting Australian SMEs to grow their businesses.

Training Systems development and delivery is a key area where former ADF personnel can excel. Systematiq offers opportunities for developing and delivering training programs using the Systems Approach to Defence Learning (SADL) framework, as well as developing e-Learning programs. Most ADF personnel have had some experience with delivering training or taking part in training, making them well-suited to support Systematiq’s clients with training solutions. By leveraging their experience, veterans can help deliver high-quality training programs that meet the needs of Systematiq’s clients.

Systematiq Training Systems and Integrated Logistics Lead Sam Goodman comments on the value of experiencing these training systems first hand.

‘All ADF personnel undergo extensive training, so they know the difference between training that adds value to their skills and experience versus training that puts them to sleep. Whilst the SADL methodology includes more than developing and delivering training, veterans bring this experience with them and can apply it to the projects they are working on ensuring that they are creating engaging and best practice training.’

‘At the same time,’ she adds, ‘veterans at Systematiq are working alongside experienced education and training professionals (many being veterans themselves) who ensure the learning theories are applied and the training meets the workplace requirements.’

Pathways and Partnerships for Veterans

To support ADF members in making informed career decisions, Systematiq has a work experience program that offers veterans the opportunity to gain hands-on experience before committing to a career transition. Through the program, veterans can work on projects and get to know the team, gaining insights into the company culture and day-to-day operations. This experience enables veterans to develop new skills and make informed decisions about their career paths.

Another way in which Systematiq provides opportunity to veterans is through our partnership with Soldier On, a not-for-profit organisation dedicated to delivering support services and programs to current and former ADF personnel all across Australia. In 2022, we signed a Partnership Pledge with Soldier On, establishing Systematiq as a veteran-supportive organisation, and committing our business as a constant source of employment and educational support to ex-defence personnel, through Soldier On’s innovative Pathways Program.

Systematiq’s Director of Capability, Richard De Nardi, expresses his pride in Systematiq’ support of Australia’s veterans and the Soldier On initiative.

‘Systematiq is proud to create opportunities for a great cadre of men and women. Those benefits include engaging with individuals who are transitioning out of the military and working with them to enter the civilian workforce, knowing they will be assisted throughout the unique journey of relinquishing a uniform and embracing civilian life.’

If you’ve served or are currently serving in the ADF, there’s a good chance Systematiq can find a good fit for you within the team. Reach out to us through the details on the website to find out more.