Program Director at Leidos, Michael Bragg has had a diverse career and has a focus on self-discipline and making things happen quickly.
We chat to Michael about how he got to where he is today, what has contributed to his success and what advice he has for managing a career within Defence Industry.
Tell us a bit about what you are responsible for at Leidos
As Program Director at Leidos, my role is to ensure we have a successfully negotiated outcome with the customer, and most importantly ensure a successful start-up of operations. Leidos is the preferred tenderer for a major Land capability program which combines product life cycle and supply chain management aspects, and we aim to be effective for our customer from day one.
What was your first ever job?
My first job was in retail – selling raw timber furniture and hardware at Nock & Kirby in Bondi Junction.
Tell us about how you got to where you are now at Leidos
I served in the Royal Australian Navy (RAN) for 20 years as a supply sailor and supply officer. After leaving the RAN I moved into Australian corporate life focusing on the supply chain management function. Apart from the one stint in Defence Industry (DIDS Program implementation) I have worked across many different industries, often focusing on change management and start-up aspects. I was consulting on strategy implementation for a well-known consumer goods company when I heard about the opportunity with Leidos. I was attracted by the chance to return to Defence Industry and the challenge of driving a start-up program within a ‘new’ organisation undergoing significant change.
What’s surprised you most in your career?
The fundamentals of good process and discipline I took for granted in the Navy are in short supply beyond defence. When I undertook post graduate study before leaving the service I would find it hard to believe that the bad organisations which were the subject of case studies actually existed, however, I have come across a number in my career.
What is most rewarding about your job? What makes it all worthwhile?
Those I work with at Leidos are all motivated to do good things, and excited to see Leidos grow and prosper. I am yet to come across anyone looking back to “life before Leidos” – we are all are looking forward. The company has strong local leadership and a clear strategy and sense of purpose. This will be worthwhile when we are in contract, with our systems, processes, facilities, and team in place and operating effectively.
For someone leaving defence today, what would you suggest they do to prepare themselves?
Spend time to understand how corporations work and operate beyond the defence space, and to understand the many different types of people and organisational behaviours that exist. If you are seeking a management or leadership role ensure you understand financial fundamentals and how the decisions you make impact balance sheets, and profit and loss. There will be someone in your network in corporate life who you have served with: seek them out, buy them a coffee and ask them to help you “civilian-ise” your CV.
My final suggestion is to be prepared to take a step back to move forward. The status you may enjoy now in uniform will likely need to be earned all over again once you transition.
How have you used your defence experience in the commercial space?
Self-discipline, good process fundamentals, staff skills and the ability to engage at all levels have all been used in navigating my way in the commercial space.
I still polish my shoes every Sunday – trust me, appearance is very important!
Having a great deal of experience away from Defence Industry and now coming back, what will you bring with you to benefit Defence Industry?
I bring pragmatism, an ability to cut through complexity, and a willingness to make stuff happen quickly. I am also enjoying learning from my colleagues at Leidos, and hopefully also providing a different perspective for them.
What made you return to Defence Industry?
With the renewal of investment in the Australian Defence Force (ADF) being driven by the government there is significant opportunity to make a contribution, and I am particularly interested to see some of the new Smart Buying concepts get rolled out. In addition to the professional challenge of start-ups, I have a renewed interest in the ADF as I now have two sons serving in the RAN. It’s nice that all three of us are presently contributing to a common goal. Not many people get this opportunity and I will certainly savour this whilst it lasts.