The best project managers are ex-combat personnel

| April 5, 2018

Speaking to Defence Connect, Tom Moore, the co-founder of WithYouWithMe, has outlined his argument that combat-focused personnel make the best civilian project managers.

WithYouWithMe has worked with hundreds of veterans to help them identify their purpose and establish clear pathways to new careers after military service.

Its programs are changing the way the veteran labour force is perceived by Australian industry and, through free education, skills-gap training and labour force predictive analysis, it is helping to build a highly-skilled and competitive pipeline of ex-military talent for a wide range of commercial companies.

While he acknowledged the range of issues faced by military staff making this shift, Moore said that “on the other side of the equation, there are a lot of hard skills that are transferrable that we haven’t recognised because we haven’t sat down and worked it out”.

“For example, if I look at project managers, the best project managers I’ve found, are junior and senior non-commissioned officers from combat and combat support corps,” said Moore. “Why? We’ve worked out the science behind it.”

Moore said that because they love to get things done, they know how to work within different teams and different levels of politics.

“And if you give them a box, they build a box more effectively than you could ever give them,” he added.

Moore concluded that his own start-up had by now succeeded in a number of industries to convince companies to look at hard skills of people that wouldn’t be considered to suit specific roles.

“If you take a junior combat soldier, they’re fantastic problem solvers, they’re resilient and they have a will to win,” he explained.

“They are fantastic at sales and business development, and the reason they never start a job in it is because generally there’s a university entry degree within a tech company or within recruitment.”

Moore also noted that “Australians are a little bit laid back, we don’t like to push the envelope as much and we don’t have that hunter sort of aspect”.

“If we break down the hunter aspect of acquisitions sales, it’s problem solving and systems thinking. It’s resilience, so the ability to continue to pick up the phone, and to look at a problem differently. Finally, it’s the will to win,” said Moore.

He said that while these three traits were taught to every single military member as part of their recruitment, combat soldiers, who tend to be around 18 years old and even younger, leave Defence at the age of about 22-23.

“They’re exceptional. If you hang up on a combat soldier he’s probably just going to laugh about it and try and get you the next day or just rock up at your office to convince you to do it,” Moore said.

“If you’ve ever been in a bar on Anzac Day, they don’t stop talking.”

To hear more from the WithYouWithMe co-founder, tune in to the Defence Connect podcast here.

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