Ryan: I joined the Royal Australian Navy as an Electronics Technician to get out of my home-town and to do bigger and better things. It was a great experience and an ever better stepping stone to a life after Defence, proof of this is my current employment with Department of Parks and Wildlife in Western Australia.
I completed my 6 years having served on some of Australia’s most advanced Frigates – HMAS Toowoomba, HMAS Arunta though much of my time at sea was spent on HMAS Perth where I filled the role of the Fire Control Officer and Combat System Maintainer.
I was fortunate enough to stumble upon a woodworking forum hosted by the Defence community and be introduced to Navy Warrant Officer John, who would become my woodworking mentor and good friend in time. A passion that had laid dormant since my early years watching my father work with wood came alive again in the time that I wasn’t deployed at sea.
After a few years of woodturning, I began to sell my creations to friends and family, and in this, realised a business opportunity. From my research, I found that there wasn’t an Australian pen supplier in the upper end/luxury niche. I went headfirst down the rabbit hole of small business and came out grinning on the other side, it’s been an incredible journey that I would recommend to anyone who loves a challenge.
In 2015, I discovered a pilot program that was designed to help transitioning Defence personnel start or run a small business. I applied immediately and was lucky enough to be granted a full scholarship to travel to RMIT in Victoria to study a Cert IV in Small Business Management. After completing the program, I set to developed my business with a resolute mindset and developed the website www.ausdes.com which began to see orders coming through.
My results for the end of 2015 showed I’d sold over 200 luxury pens made of some of the rarest Australian hardwoods. As of now writing this article, I am now selling my products through a multitude of stores in almost every state in Australia (stay tuned Tasmania, I am trying!).
My advice to Defence members preparing to discharge include the following:
1. Take advantage of the programs and courses available to you while in the ADF as they are worth their weight in gold to civilian employers.
2. Going back into a civilian workforce may feel strange due to a loss of companionship and the homely feeling of being part of a team. Remember that when you started in the ADF, it was very similar. Take your time to develop new relationships and try to avoid talking in jargon that your new colleagues won’t understand.
3. As an ADF member, you have been subjected to trials that have made you resolute, reliable and able to perform under pressure, these are desirable traits to civilian employers but you will need to dress them up correctly on a resume.
Chief Operating Officer, Australian Designs
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