How does an Army Brigadier Take a Step into the Civilian World?

Peter DanielWhen Brigadier Peter Daniel decided that it was time to transition from the Australian Defence Force (ADF) to the civilian world after 35 years of service, he did what many have done before him and reached out to a colleague who had already made the shift. Whilst he knew he would face some challenges in making a successful shift, after a lifetime career in the Army it was an unknown world he was stepping into.

Peter joined the Army after finishing school, and graduated as an Army Officer in 1986. Throughout his 35 years of service, he was posted to both Logistics and Personnel roles and promoted to the rank of Brigadier, serving overseas on 3 deployments to Cambodia, the Sinai and Iraq. In Iraq he was involved in developing the US draw-down strategy for the US which culminated in being part of the briefing team that presented options to the newly elected President Obama on the draw down plans for Allied Forces from Iraq, and for this work he was awarded the United States Armed Forces Bronze Star. He has also been awarded the Order of Australia and the Conspicuous Service Cross, and in his last posting as the Director-General Personnel was effectively the HR Director for the Army and responsible for HR Policy for 45,000 full-time and part-time soldiers and over 30,000 contractors and civilians. On any measure, a fine and distinguished career.

It was also in this role that Peter helped design and deliver a major cultural change program across the Army following on from a major scandal that made headlines for all the wrong reasons in late 2013. Peter was passionate about the people aspect of organisations and wanted to further himself in the corporate world, in one way proving to himself and others that he could hold a senior HR role in a large high profile organisation.

Having decided to make the move, Peter faced a number challenges, some obvious and others less so. First, other than the people he knew from his military days, Peter knew very few people in the corporate world or the recruiters and search firms who normally place candidates at his level. After a career inside the military, and for security reasons not having a LinkedIn profile or other ways of being known by the search firms, he was virtually unknown and an unknown quality. And other than sitting his Officer Selection Board in the early 80’s and facing the promotion boards during his career, he hadn’t had to put together a CV of any sort or sat through an interview of any kind – not those relevant on the civilian street at least.

Peter’s first step was to approach one of the global search firms, via an ex-military contact who had gone that path before him. Using his contact, Peter was able to meet with one of the senior partners of one of the Top 5 firms, but quickly realised that he was a long way from being “match-fit” for a corporate gig, especially at the C-Suite level these firms operate at. The search consultant suggested Peter seek some professional help from a dedicated career transition specialist, and that is where PeopleScape stepped in.

Peter met with an experienced consultant for dedicated one-on-one support to craft a compelling and focused CV, a fresh and professional LinkedIn profile and most importantly a story line that resonated with everyone he met as he explored opportunities. On top of these key elements, it was the guidance he received around the importance of reaching out and energising his network and exploring potential opportunities that was Peter’s greatest learning. As many people know, it’s not what you know but who you know and especially at this senior level, more than 70% of roles are filled through networking opportunities than direct recruitment or job advertisements.

The relationship with Peter’s consultant is on-going with continued support provided as Peter explores the next phase of his career journey. For many it isn’t the first step that is the preferred choice, it usually takes another one or two moves to land the perfect role. This is certainly true for Peter. When he first sat down with his PeopleScape consultant, he said “I don’t want to be a consultant, I don’t want to do a supply chain role and I don’t want to be in in Canberra”. Much to his surprise, his first role post the ADF was a Supply Chain consultant based in Canberra. Now he is moving into a new role, as the local HR Director for a global organisation. It’s still based in Canberra, but hey 2 out of 3 ain’t bad!