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Your soft skills are what allows you to bring value when transitioning from the military

April 22, 2022

Adam Gough spent 18 years in the Australian Army, before transitioning to Accenture in July 2021. He shares his story on what prompted the change and his experience of leaving the military service for corporate life.

After 18 years of serving in the Australian Army, I was starting to think that it was time for a change. Military life involves regular upheaval, with relocation every couple of years not uncommon. My wife and I had decided that it was time to focus on stability in our life.

I had some friends from the military who had left to join Accenture and I spoke to them about their experiences, which were overwhelmingly positive. Following some more research online, I was increasingly attracted to what Accenture could offer, particularly drawn to its desire to use technology to help drive positive change and not just make profit.

          Graduation day from the Royal Military College - Duntroon 2008
          Graduation day from the Royal Military College - Duntroon 2008

          Graduation day from the Royal Military College - Duntroon 2008

          Making the change
          I have been well supported by Army and my unit to pursue this opportunity while taking leave from the military. I started at Accenture in July 2021 and  Accenture has been  equally supportive during this transition with time to complete key tasks such as separation medical appointments. Neither side has rushed me at any stage of the process while all the administrative requirements that come with leaving the military service are managed.

          The skills I gained in the army have helped with the transition to corporate life. Things like problem solving and the ability to take complex information and rapidly distil it to provide direction and clarity remain valuable. In addition, the ability to work well with a team in an unfamiliar environment and not be phased by things when working under pressure are skills I bring from the army to Accenture. I’m used to dealing with spinning plates, being able to prioritise tasks and focus my efforts on what’s most important at any point in time.

          My role now is different to what I did in defence, but the adaptability you develop from military service has made the transition easier. One of the most important things I’ve realised since joining Accenture is that my soft skills are what allow me to bring value, and that technical skills can be easily learnt. I thought the learning systems within defence were robust, but Accenture is next level. There’s such a commitment to continual learning, with so much potential to grow and develop with a depth of training opportunities that has astounded me.

          Accenture’s Veterans Network has also been a great support during this change. It’s been wonderful to be able to connect with other people who have had similar experiences and can share the lessons they’ve learnt through their own transitions from military to corporate life. Everyone – both veterans and other people within Accenture – have been so open and willing to share their stories. Everyone I’ve encountered at Accenture has been so helpful, making time to answer any of my questions.

          Taking a break from the dust after a patrol in Oruzgan Province 2010
          Taking a break from the dust after a patrol in Oruzgan Province 2010

          Taking a break from the dust after a patrol in Oruzgan Province 2010

          Opening new doors
          One of the things I’m most looking forward to in this change to corporate life is the chance to apply my skills in a different environment. I’m currently working on a defence-aligned project, but one of the things I love about Accenture is that I know there’s going to be opportunities to explore new industries longer term. Being such a large organisation, you’re not as constrained by your history and can build a career out of what you want to do, following your interests.

          As well as the change in work, I’m also embracing the volunteering opportunities that Accenture offers. The flexibility to give back, both through in-person and online channels is something I’m looking forward to.

          Personally, I’m also excited about the chance to get established in a community more and build a local network. Life in defence can often be transient, so the chance to put down roots and get involved in the local area is something I’m keen for.

          Anzac Day is a chance to reflect
          This year will be my first Anzac Day out of uniform in 18 years. Typically, I’d attend the dawn service and then take part in a march or some other official capacity. Although I remain close to my old unit,  I won’t attend official military functions this year. Instead, Anzac Day this year will be more about self-reflection and thinking about  the day as a veteran rather than a serving defence member. It will be a chance to think about my years in service, as well as to look forward to my new life as a veteran outside the service. I’m still planning to attend a dawn service on the Gold Coast and it will be interesting to experience Anzac Day as a civilian.

          Words of advice
          For anyone currently in the military that is thinking about making a change, I’d encourage you to give it a go. From my perspective the change was not as scary as some people make it out to be. Your skills, attitude and experience from the military are all directly applicable to the business world. The technical skills and qualifications you have might be different, but don’t let that be a hindrance as all those skills can be learnt. It’s your soft skills that will allow you to bring value and shouldn’t be underestimated.

          Accenture provides a flexible work environment where we support our people to explore their full potential — professionally and personally. Find out more about careers with us.

          WRITTEN BY

          Adam Gough

          Manager, Strategy & Consulting, Australia & New Zealand

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