Swapping my air-conditioned office for the Malaysian jungle; electronic devices for rifles; heels for army boots; and my daily lattes for wild plants and ration packs wasn’t how I’d pictured returning to work after Christmas, but the Defence Force’s Ex Boss Lift 2017 has shaped up to be one of the most memorable ‘work weeks’ of my life.
The Army Reserves relies heavily on the willingness of employers to give their Reservist staff the time away from work to participate in training and operational service. It started the program – which is run by Aussie soldiers – almost three decades ago to showcase to employers and executives (like me), the added responsibilities, skills and capabilities our reservist team members wouldn’t normally be able to demonstrate in their daily roles.
And by gosh, after tackling the five-day program with 18 other executives and small business owners from across New South Wales and the ACT, I developed a great appreciation for what these reservists go through!
Our motley crew – including a school principal, stockman, supermarket manager and real estate agency principal – was loaded into the back of a C17 Globemaster III on January 9, with very little idea of what to expect, or how any of us would fare, once we were dropped off at Malaysia’s Butterworth Air Force Base.
Here we joined with more than 100 Australian Army Reserve soldiers who (unlike us who were merely dipping our toes into the program) are stationed in Malaysia for three months of intensive training to support the Australian Defence engagement in South East Asia.
These Australian Reservists come from all walks of life, and during my comparatively short stint, I was privileged to meet quite a few male and female retail workers, who, as part of their army life, are serving within a Rifle company and in the infantry. I was astounded by their strong leadership, resilience, and ability to operate so effectively within a team, regardless of how stressful the situations they were being placed in.
These valuable workers are taking time away from their primary careers in all areas, as well as their families, so if you’re an employer with a team member who periodically disappears under a sea of khaki, I’d encourage you to have a look at this wonderful program. Additionally, there may also be great benefits to your business, such as the Employer Support Payment Scheme, which provides financial assistance to eligible employers.
If you’d like to find out more, please don’t hesitate to contact Defence Reserves via www.defencereservessupport.gov.au or call 1800 803 485.
Have a great week.