The Inside Word

Paying it forward so others can soldier on

While many may think of the SAS Group as a very experienced government relations and media consultancy, many of us have other skills that we practice outside of the organisation, which are not necessarily promoted on our calling card. One of those skills is mentoring.

Last week, I was honoured once again to be chosen to mentor in the Soldier On program, which is sponsored by Defence Industry giant Boeing. As some of you may or may not know, I am an Army veteran and have been a Soldier On Ambassador for about four years. While I shed the camouflage more than 20 years ago, it’s a fantastic experience I will never forget, but I wish I had been prepared for the totally different culture in the corporate world, which is what the Soldier On initiative prepares mentees to do. 

Giving back to those who are serving, or have served, is very important to me and I would like to think that you don’t have to have served our country to feel the urge to give back to society, whatever shape or form that takes. Many who work at the SAS Group give back in various ways – some of us choose to mentor and share our skills and experiences, or simply offer a shoulder to lean on, to help others ‘soldier on’.

I choose to help Soldier On when I can, using the professional skills I garnered after my Army career, from a decade working as a journalist largely for AAP, and then from working in the corporate sphere in public affairs – including media, advocacy, and government relations. 

The mentees are usually in the process of discharging, thinking about discharging, or have discharged from the ADF. Mine is not a position from which to educate them on how to be a success as a journalist or in government relations or PR. Conversely, I have skinned my knees numerous times in the corporate environment, and I hope to make their path a little easier by pointing out potential potholes.

While I don’t mean to sound negative – compared to the amazing culture that I was in during my decade of service – corporate life has been a tough gig at times. 

What the? I hear you say…..

In the Army I served most of my tenure with aviation, and while deployed I would be rescuing people from helicopters – or waiting and training to rescue people from helicopters. When in barracks I was helping to look after soldiers’ health and welfare – and carrying out lots of training for deployment. 

In this secure team environment, if you didn’t work as a team, you were soon moved on, because the consequences were serious, and someone could die or be seriously injured. And it wasn’t just one person, it was the entire aircrew that would – or could – suffer.  

Conversely, at times, one can feel like they’re on their own in the corporate environment, which can be extremely challenging for us used to the security blanket of the well-oiled machine of the military. Thankfully, the SAS Group has a great team culture, and they have been extremely supportive since I joined them in July last year. Yes, they’re a pretty good bunch, extremely experienced and are willing to share and help at any time. (You should give us a go if you’re not a client!).

I think it’s due to this culture at the SAS Group that I’m not on my ‘Pat Malone’ when it comes to mentoring. While I won’t call out everyone, this example is set from the very top, and we know that’s how a good culture is born and nurtured. I will make a special mention of one of my colleagues, who has given me permission, and that is our very own man of the cloth Daniel Hobbs. Dan joined the team permanently last year and is an ordained priest in the Anglican Church of Australia. He is our official/unofficial in-house mentor – but he also has years of experience in politics, NFP sector and faith-based organisations – where he mentored & mediated – which continues naturally for him to this day in our SAS Group microcosm and in support of clients. 

So, I would encourage you to come and say hi to us here at the SAS Group. You don’t have to be wanting government relations or media and communications help – we’d just love to sit down and have a coffee and a yarn with you. Alternatively, we’d love to see you at one of our many events, so please don’t hesitate to reach out and connect with us. 

Please follow me on LinkedIn or follow The SAS Group ,if you don’t already.

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