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From the frontline to the boardroom: new research reveals former Defence personnel offer in-demand skills to Australian businesses


14 October, 2018


With the Invictus Games Sydney 2018 just around the corner, Westpac has released new data showing that former Defence personnel possess the leadership and strategy skills to excel not just in the sporting arena – but in the business sector too.


The LinkedIn Veteran’s Skills Data Set conducted in collaboration with Westpac, identified the top twelve skills Australian leaders look for in employees1, with the findings demonstrating that veterans over index on all identified skills.


Of these skills, the core capabilities where current and former Defence Force members significantly over-performed included program management (six times national average), change management (three times national average) and leadership (over twice the national average).


Despite this, every year more than 5,500 personnel leave the Australian Defence Force (ADF) and face unemployment and under employment rates significantly higher than the national average.


George Frazis, Westpac’s Consumer Bank Chief Executive and a former engineer in the Royal Australian Airforce, has experienced first-hand how the skills developed through military service can translate to a long-term business career.


“Every Defence member receives exceptional leadership training; they know how to work in cross-functional teams in an agile manner and are extremely strategic and resilient. Veterans work hard and understand how to deliver on a mission and be motivated by a higher purpose.


“The research findings reinforce the significant capabilities former Defence members can bring to the business sector. The transferable skills veterans possess, such as leadership, strategy and change management, are of great value for any organisation.


“Supporting our returned military into work, isn’t just the right thing to do, it makes good business sense. I hope this data, along with our support of the Invictus Games, will provide a platform to start a broader conversation with corporate Australia about the positive impact veterans can make in the workforce,” said Mr Frazis.


Westpac actively recruits former Defence members and currently employs more than 400 veterans and their spouses.


A dedicated recruitment specialist is on hand to support veterans and partners throughout the hiring process at Westpac, with revised HR policies also working to ensure the unique and valuable skills of veterans are recognised in career development pathways.


Once they join the organisation, a dedicated internal employee action group (EAG) made up of veterans, reservists and partners of current serving ADF members, continues to support their career trajectory.


Tom Larter, Chief Executive Officer, Australia New Zealand for WithYouWithMe, a veteran training and employment provider, believes that the high unemployment and underemployment rate for veterans is due to a lack of understanding of how to navigate the civilian job market.


“We see many veterans struggle to get the opportunity to show employers their potential, often getting overlooked at the initial CV stage for candidates with more direct experience. The issue is actually two fold – with employers often not understanding the skills a veteran can bring to their workplace.”


Both Westpac and WithYouWithMe are optimistic that the highly anticipated Invictus Games Sydney 2018 will shine a light on the challenges faced by veterans when transitioning to civilian life, including unemployment.


Westpac will host an interactive virtual game, Mission Dust Storm, which aims to showcase veterans' invaluable skills to the public outside the event’s main venue, Sydney Olympic Park, from Monday 22 October to Saturday 27 October.


1LinkedIn data, Deloitte’s Businesses of Tomorrow Report, 2016




Media enquiries

Mary-Louise Dare, Westpac
0434 699 60
Stephanie Cornell, Westpac
M: 0466 410 689


Notes to the editor:


LinkedIn Veteran’s Skills Data Set conducted in collaboration with Westpac (2018)

The LinkedIn Veteran’s Skills Data Set conducted in collaboration with Westpac ahead of the Invictus Games Sydney 2018, identified the top twelve soft skills Australian leaders look for in employees, with the findings demonstrating that veterans over index on all identified skills.

The core capabilities where current, and former, Defence Force members over-performed included Program Management, Change Management, Leadership and Business Process Improvement.


Top 12 Skills:

  • Management
  • Leadership
  • Project Management
  • Change Management
  • Strategy
  • Strategic Planning
  • Program Management
  • Business Strategy
  • Negotiation
  • Business Process Improvement
  • Business Analysis
  • Business Process Management