A career at Northrop Grumman Australia. What’s Your Possible?

There’s been a tangible shift in Northrop Grumman in Australia, as a business and as a place to work – and, with it, a renewed sense of purpose and opportunity.

There’s been a tangible shift in Northrop Grumman in Australia, as a business and as a place to work – and, with it, a renewed sense of purpose and opportunity.

Whilst NGA’s heritage in Australia goes back over two decades, most notably as a provider of sustainment services to RAAF, the arrival of Christine Zeitz as General Manager in July 2020 heralded a number of far-reaching changes. A new and practical ‘One NGA’ operating model enabled a more agile and approachable way of working. An Australian P&L gave a sense of ownership and in-country responsibility for performance. And an ambitious strategy for growth based on being a great place to work provided a direction that everyone could get behind.

What does being a great place to work actually look like, and how could we be sure it exists throughout the entire employment cycle? After all, as an evolving organisation, we are not immune to a growing pain or two. Christine and her leadership team’s approach is as simple as it is effective. A mix of ‘doing the right thing’ - our first and key value – and what we refer to as ‘ruthless prioritisation’.

Late in 2021, we undertook a comprehensive program to understand what makes us unique as a place to work. It’s all very well to lecture the market about what we want them to know, but how could we be sure it resonates or is even authentic for those who are already here. We asked our people by running internal workshops, interviews and a survey or two. We also approached those in the market to find out what our reputation was like out there and to understand what people are typically looking for. We took a deep breath…

What we found was an overwhelming sense of purpose based on our clear company vision and optimism at the possibilities ahead. Specifically, a sense of awe at the scale of global capability within reach and, respect for the rate and direction of change. A heady mix of being part of this large and established organisation, yet being the ones to watch as we grow locally. And that creates an environment where many thrive. You really can help shape things. No cliché.

The exercise also highlighted a number of initiatives and benefits we should be more vocal about whilst also showing us where we needed to improve. Our flexible working arrangements, for example, aren’t just the standard reaction to a post Covid world. They were always there and have now been honed in to a menu of options that are useful for everyone whether they work in a hangar, head office or home. We’ve also introduced a fresh set of employee benefits including performance incentives and recognition programs, and an Australian based employee discount program, which covers many high street and online retailers and is making its presence felt in our wallets. We’ve enhanced our set of leave options that include up to two weeks’ Purchased Annual Leave, and Paid Parental Leave Provisions for Primary Carers and Supporting Partners, including continuing superannuation contributions whilst on leave. And our Volunteering policy provides employees with a day’s paid annual leave for helping out at a Not-for-Profit of their choice.

Personal development is embedded in to our working lives and starts immediately. We’ve enhanced our on-boarding experience to help every new starter to feel both welcome and productive as soon as they accept a job offer. Professionalisation is high on our agenda too combined with a clear approach to helping our people develop their careers by moving around within the company. Our close association with affiliate organisations such as Engineers Australia and the Australian Computer Society enables our Engineering and IT cohorts to access their funded membership, registration and credentialing services – very helpful to those early in their careers as well as experienced professionals.

Perhaps the overarching differentiator though comes from the emerging culture we share. We have an expression here, ‘Everyone Matters’, and the overwhelming feedback from the workshops was of a team that feels valued, respected and encouraged to mould their careers in whatever way suits them no matter who they are and where they work.

No surprise then, given the capability, direction and inclusive thinking that we’ve built the Employee Value Proposition ‘What’s Your Possible?’ as a way to personalise our corporate strapline of ‘Defining Possible’.

We are particularly proud of our representation of women at senior level. 55% of our Australian Leadership Team, our sector president and global CEO are all women. Last year we ran a series of workshops across the company that provided valuable insights that have helped us to enhance a supportive and inclusive environment to ensure equity for all. As a result, as number of initiatives have been implemented including unconscious bias training across the company and have reviewed the language and approach we take in our recruitment lifecycle to ensure gender neutrality. Defining Possible does mean something different to everyone and we are trying hard to ensure everyone can the same level of opportunity to contribute and be fulfilled.

An illuminating and exciting theme also emerged from our early careers and intern community – namely that they felt particularly listened-to and welcomed compared to other organisations many had experienced. As part of our investment in future talent, we are doubling the number of apprenticeships within our Sustainment and Modernisation Services operating unit over the next two years. We’re also increasing our commitment to internships and formally structuring a more contemporary approach to our graduate intake. Exciting times.

So what particular traits do you need to thrive at NGA? Of course, we’re always after a range of skills and experiences depending on where the need lies. However, a strong values compass and an open enquiring style is key, combined with a desire to learn from and help others. And adaptability – things are changing all the time as we build and grow.

So where to from here? There’s plenty to look forward to. A key strength is the breadth of programs we are either involved in or are in the pipeline across the whole spectrum of aeronautics, space and mission systems. We’re one of the top three sustainment providers to the RAAF so will always be on the lookout for talented avionics engineers. Our Integrated Systems operating unit is in the frame for an impressive pipeline of programs across aeronautics, mission systems and space. And, of course, we’re always on the lookout for the teams of people within our enabling functions who support the business and are instrumental in driving change.

The sense of freshness and confidence is clear. And it’s being noticed. What’s your possible?

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