Talking Leadership with Defence Force Recruiting
We recently caught up with two of our awesome speakers from generationYOU Melbourne – Flight Lieutenant Jacqueline Killian who is an Air Combat Officer in the Air Force and Squadron Leader Jocelyn Williams who is an Electrical Engineers and Officer in the RAAF.
As members of the Defence Force both Jackie and Joce have tonnes of experience in leadership and mission critical roles so we are very grateful that they have taken the time to answer a few questions to help you to get ahead in your careers too!
Can you tell us a little bit about your role in the Air Force?
Jackie: I’m an Air Combat Officer; basically I’m the Mission Commander on an aircraft. I worked on the AP-3C Orion as the Tactical Coordinator, which meant I would be getting information from other crew members running the aircrafts sensors; Making decisions about what we needed to do with that Information, and then directing the Pilots or External Assets as required by our mission.
Joce: As an Aerospace Electrical Engineer, I provide technical knowledge, leadership and management in a variety of roles related to supporting aircraft operations. Engineering officers in the Australian Defence Force will change roles every 2-3 years in order to develop their professional expertise, and to broaden their experience as Officers. As an engineer in the Air Force, I have worked in Maintenance Support roles, Capability Development and Project Acquisition. In addition to engineering expertise, these roles include aspects project management, logistics and administration.
What inspired you to join the Defence Force?
Jackie: I was the 12 year old kid who wanted to be an astronaut and my mum said I would need to join the Air Force. Then when I started to look at the career opportunities available I saw the Defence Force as an exciting and different way to challenge myself while also working in aviation. I wanted to travel and have a job that wasn’t the same every day.
Joce: I have always had an interest in the lifestyle that the Defence Force promotes. Fitness, structure and opportunity for career progression are all important to me, and are provided by the ADF.
I ended up joining the Airforce through the Defence University Sponsorship (DUS) program. Under the DUS program, 3 years of my Bachelor Degree at the University of WA were paid for, I was paid a Salary to study, and I had a job once I graduated.
What’s your go to story when asked about a tough situation in your career?
Jackie: Being on a crew who had done changed shift by 12 hours 4 times in 12 days. Everyone was exhausted and most weren’t’ sleeping properly anymore but we still had to complete an operational mission. There were 12 very tried and mostly cranky crew members who got onto the plane but our 3 crew leads lifted to motivate us all. (One of them gave his whole mission brief as the ‘twelfth man’) Humor goes a long way sometimes.
Joce: Very early in my career during my first posting I had to conduct an investigation following a safety incident, where it was discovered that a critical step of a maintenance procedure on an aircraft was not conducted correctly. If the error had not been detected in the final stages of functional testing, the aircraft could have incurred a major failure during flight. The investigation required me to interview the maintenance team to get a clear picture of all the factors that had led to the incident. Most of the maintenance team had years more experience than I had, but being an Officer I was senior in rank.
The situation became difficult while interviewing the Maintenance Manager, a technician with 20+ years of experience, who was in charge of that maintenance task. In addition to having to overcome the stigma of safety investigations, being a junior Officer, only in the role for a couple of months, and much younger than the Maintenance Manager all contributed to the tough situation.
I was met with aggression and hostility during the interview process. The Maintenance Manager became defensive, and criticized my ability to conduct the investigation. This was not my first safety investigation, plus I had been trained on how to conduct safety investigations and was confident in my process. However, I was not prepared for the human element, which is so important in creating an effective and conducive work situation.
We talk a lot about the importance of leadership, particularly for the next generation. What does leadership mean to you?
Jackie: Leadership is being able to motivate people to do things they might not be enthusiastic about initially. This involves being decisive in decision making processes, communicating directly and honestly to your team, and then identifying areas of strength or possible growth in your team members that you can use to gain ‘buy in’ to whatever the task is.
Joce: In the Australian Defence Force we learn a lot about followship and leadership. To be an effective leader you need to be capable of both. Leadership is about more than taking charge and motivating others. Personally, I believe establishing trust and mutual respect are the most important elements of leadership.
What are the top three traits you believe every leader should possess?
Jackie: Decisive. Honest. Team oriented.
Joce: Self-confidence (goes a long way). Adaptability. Initiative.
How can our community build their leadership skills?
Jackie: There’s a lot to be said for Teamwork. Working in groups on a community project (for example) can allow plenty of leadership and learning opportunities. From coordinating time schedules, to motivating people when things don’t go to plan, the ability to work either leading or following in a team can be a great opportunity to develop and observe leadership traits.
Joce: Experience! Get involved in your school, work, sport, community activities. You don’t have to be in a leadership position to develop leadership skills. Put forward your ideas with confidence, support others in your team activities. The more exposure you have with working with others the better.
And most importantly… what’s your favourite military aircraft?
Jackie: The Mighty AP-3C Orion!
Joce: C130 Hercules….because it was the first aircraft I worked on
The Australian Defence Force has plenty of career opportunities for young people including reservist (part time) roles and Engineering Scholarships which as Joce mentioned would cover your tuition fees and guarantee you a job on graduation.
We do encourage you to get in touch with Defence Force Careers to get a better understanding of what opportunities might suit you – www.defencejobs.gov.au