What I’ll be thinking about this Anzac Day
April 22, 2021
For Rory Keyes, after 2020 this Anzac Day will be his first out of uniform where he can attend services. Accenture’s Business and Technology Delivery Manager talks about life in and after the army and what he’s doing to support veterans at Accenture.
Growing up I always wanted to join the Army. Both my grandfathers served in WW2 and my cousin was an air force officer. So I had a real affinity to all things military. I studied Middle Eastern and Central Asian studies at ANU and went straight into the Royal Military College at Duntroon in the ACT.
It was quite a change from my student lifestyle! All my uni mates were just down the road sleeping in. Meanwhile, I was in barracks, being woken up 4am and taken over the assault course in the middle of winter, swimming through cold wet pits… I’m still not a morning person!
I was posted to Darwin as a Platoon Commander with the 1st Combat Support Battalion and to the 1st Armoured Regiment, spent a year as a Liaison Officer at the 17th Brigade Headquarters and was the Operations Officer for 145 Signals Squadron responsible for medical and logistical units. For my last nine months, I was deployed on operations as a logistics planner, managing teams in Afghanistan, Iraq and the wider Middle East.
It was incredibly rewarding work. There’s a “no fail” mentality in the army. You have to get the job done – no matter what.
After deployment, I transitioned into consulting and joined Accenture at the start of this year, working with Defence. It’s a good fit for my logistics and ICT skills – and I like that I’m still contributing to National Security. There’s that sense of being part of something bigger than you..
This Anzac Day will be my second out of uniform but after the disruption of 2020, the first one where I am able to commemorate with others. It’s a funny one when you’re in the military, because Anzac Day is a work day – it’s all parades and events. This year, I’ll be at the Dawn Service in Balmain in NSW – taking that pause to remember the people who’ve made so many significant sacrifices.
I’ll be thinking about my grandfathers and the other men and women who have served our nation in all wars and peacekeeping operations. I’ll be honouring those lives that have been lost and the people who are impacted by the aftereffects of conflict.
And then I’ll catch up with the mates I served with, have a beer and tell some tall tales.
For me, Anzac Day is also a time I reflect on the issues facing veterans as they transition into civilian life. I know I was lucky with my military experience. I wasn’t injured or suffered trauma. It was a highlight of my life but that’s down to luck. When I was in Iraq, it was pretty quiet. A few months later, the Iranians were throwing rockets at the base I’d been living in.
That’s why I’ve become part of the Accenture Veterans Inclusion & Diversity (I & D) pillar. Our partnerships lead of the pillar is working with veterans organisations such as WYWM to reskill veterans and find employment. My role is to help understand barriers to recruiting veterans and work with people inside Accenture to help overcome them. Often, veterans are not good at communicating all the great skills they have. There’s an inbuilt modesty to those who’ve seen active service.
In fact, the military does a fantastic jobs of setting you up for consulting. Every day is about problem solving and working in fluid teams. We even have the same posting cycles. In consulting, just like the army, you change jobs regularly. You have to rock up to a new environment, bond with your new team, get to grips with a new situation and crack on.
In business, we’re often working on “no fail” missions too. In those situations, attitude is more important than anything. You have to get the job done. You have to fix the problem with the resources available. There are lots of similarities. On those high pressure days, as you work shoulder to shoulder with colleagues and clients, it’s about collaboration and working as an integrated team that gets results.
I hope everyone has a chance to reflect this Anzac Day. If you’d like to reach out to me, send me a message.