Eric spent 20 years in the Royal Australian Navy as a Warfare Officer and has had an exceptionally diverse career, including a number of sea-going postings as well as higher level tactical, operational and strategic level Headquarters in both peacetime and warlike environments.
During his career, he was fortunate to receive a number of commendations (COMAST, CN, 2003 Peter Mitchell Prize, CJOPS and CJTF633) and was the Dux of his METOC, PWO and FWO courses and was a finalist in the 2013 ADM Nelson Sword of Excellence.
Having transitioned from the Navy in 2014, Eric has had an impressive progression in DXC and is now responsible for managing one of DXC’s Industry segments.
Tell us a bit about what you are responsible for at DXC:
DXC Technology was born in April 2017 following the global merger between CSC and HPE-Enterprise Services. In my role as Account Executive, I am responsible for ANZ public sector strategy and business development across the National Security Domain. Day to day, this translates to ensuring healthy client relationships and an associated healthy pipeline of opportunities across all DXC offerings.
What was your very first job, and what was the best lesson you took away from it?
My very first job was as a Trainee Baker in a small Bakery in my home town in Moranbah, QLD. This involved working from 0400 on weekdays and midnight on weekends. The job taught me to look for the best in everything you do. It would have been easy to hate what I did because of the hours, or the 5km push-bike ride to work; but every job has something to offer if you find the silver lining.
Tell us about how you got to where you are today:
I joined the Navy through the Australian Defence Force Academy and on completion of that time, I did a Graduate Diploma at the Bureau of Meteorology before commencing my Warfare Officer training at HMAS WATSON. I had several sea-going OOW postings, and shore based METOC (Meteorology and Oceanography) postings, including my first operational posting to the Middle East following 9-11. That period focused my desire to undertake specialist Principal Warfare Officer training (and later Force Warfare training) and I subsequently completed over 7,000 hours in operations’ rooms. Having completed additional postings at HQ Joint Operations Command and Navy Strategic Command, the highlight of my career was my posting as Executive Officer of HMAS Stuart and ANZAC, during which time the ship was awarded the Gloucester Cup.
20 years and four children later, I decided that it was time to make a change and I commenced working at DXC (then CSC) as a Consultant and Project Manager to Defence. Project Management is a natural fit for anyone who has worked as an Operations Officer and working in the Defence Domain provided a ‘soft landing’ from which to build by business acumen while working in a familiar environment. Following the successful delivery of several projects, I was given an opportunity to undertake a Coverage (Business Development) role and haven’t looked back.
Can you tell us a bit about your transitioning out of the forces, what was the biggest challenge or take away from the experience?
I had never thought about doing anything other than Navy, so the thought of transitioning was daunting and I set my expectations very low. The primary driver for me in Defence was contributing to the greater good and I thought that would be missing in the commercial world. Transitioning into a role working directly for Defence provided a very good opportunity for me to remain in my comfort zone while learning new skills. What I found was that taking the uniform off was a huge enabler and allowed me to contribute at a level far above what I could do in uniform.
Why did you choose the ICT Industry after leaving the forces?
For me, the ICT Industry was a natural fit due to the work and roles I had conducted in Navy, which included the development of a number of ICT applications. In addition, it was apparent to me that ICT contributes to and impacts on every industry.
What was the biggest learning point from your first year/job in industry?
I was consistently informed by everyone that had transitioned that ‘you will only do your first job for a year because you will then work out what you want to do’. So I had anticipated that I would leave CSC in a pretty short time, having completed a transition and working out that I didn’t really enjoy what I was doing. Instead, I built an understanding of the commercial environment and then built the role that I wanted – taking charge of your career is essential.
What have you had to change about yourself in your new career/role?
Fundamentally, the majority of what I learned in Defence was directly applicable to working in the private sector. In fact, the work ethic and approach to ‘getting things done’ is highly valued in the private sector. However, there are two fundamental elements that I had to quickly grasp that were very different to Defence:
Firstly was the removal of Hierarchy. Leadership is achieved through influence, not by virtue of position.
Secondly, is the innate desire for military members to provide a solution. For me, this has been the hardest challenge – to stop myself from jumping to the aid of the client and providing a solution straight up.
What past experiences have contributed to your success/achievements in industry?
It is difficult to put it down to any specific experiences; the broad range of roles, professional development and leadership opportunities combined have made me what I am today. However, I think my exposure to Joint Operations (Planning and Operations), along with a number of operational deployments has provided me with an excellent foundation of operating in a highly complex, high TEMPO matrix environment.
What is most rewarding about your job; what makes it all worthwhile?
For me, it is the ability to build a business unit and align it with a relevant industry segment, to help them achieve real business outcomes.
What would be one piece of advice you could offer someone looking to take a similar career path?
Don’t underestimate your worth and the valuable skills that you possess. While you may not have a specific commercial course against your name, your years of experience in Defence has given you skills that make you highly desirable and highly effective in Private Industry.