This week on the Defence Connect Podcast, we chat with Tom Moore, co-founder and CEO of WithYouWithMe, which is tackling the issue of unemployment and underemployment of Australia’s veterans. A recent survey by WithYouWithMe presented damning figures, with the veteran unemployment rate sitting at 30.2 per cent, significantly above the national average of 5.5 per cent.
Moore takes us through his story as a former Army officer, his experience in finding work after life in the forces, how WithYouWithMe came to be and what services they are offering to get veterans back into the workforce.
Enjoy the podcast,
The Defence Connect team.
Listen to previous episodes of the Defence Connect podcast:
Episode 101: PODCAST: Australia's history and future within the space sector, Robert Brand, ThunderStruck Aerospace
Episode 100: PODCAST: The freedom that a start-up space agency presents Australia, Dr Jason Held, Saber Astronautics
Episode 99: PODCAST: Defence industry’s communication opportunities in the digital age, Brendan Maxwell, The Decisive Point
Episode 98: PODCAST: How geospatial imagery is aiding US border security, Patrick Stewart, US Border Patrol
Episode 97: Technology is changing the face of border security: US Border Protection Chief
Episode 96: PODCAST: How Legacy is supporting families impacted by defence, John Hutcheson, Legacy
Episode 95: On Point: Milskil leading SMEs in supporting Defence capability
Episode 94: PODCAST: Milskil to deliver training services following Australian JSF arrival, John Lonergan, Milskil
Episode 93: PODCAST: Remembering the heroes of Hamel 100 years on, Stephen Dando-Collins, author
Episode 92: PODCAST: The battle of Le Hamel and the 93 minutes that changed the world, Peter FitzSimons, author
Announcer: Welcome to the Defence Connect podcast, with your host, Phil Tarrant.
Phil Tarrant: G'day everyone, it's Phil Tarrant here. I'm the host of the Defence Connect podcast. Thanks for joining us today. I have in the studio Tom Moore, who is the co-founder and CEO of WithYouWithMe, which is an organisation, an emerging business, which is helping veterans find employment.
How are you going? Thanks for joining us.
Tom Moore: Good, Phil. How are you?
Phil Tarrant: I'm all right.
So, before we come on air we had a real quick chat about the rapid growth of your business. You said you've gone from a couple of blokes to a lot of people in a very short period of time.
Tom Moore: Yeah.
Phil Tarrant: What's going on? You must be doing something right.
Tom Moore: I guess, to quickly answer that question a bit cheekily, I think it just proves the value that veterans are in the workforce. If you can tap into it and on-sell that in a different way, which is what WithYouWithMe does, you can grow a significant proportion of your population in your workforce with really good people.
I guess our story is, and I guess the company's main aim, is to solve veteran employment and underemployment. For the purpose of defence industry, our key focus is exposing people outside of the traditional engineering and IT paths to the majority of talent. That includes combat professionals, combat support professionals, that make up the majority of our military. What we do inherently, which has allowed us to grow so fast, is that we match veterans to jobs on their transition through our own system that we built purposely, which looks at their skills and personalities. Then we train them for it.
What that means for companies is they have someone that's deployable, and for someone in defence industry, a whole new bunch of security cleared people that can come to Canberra from different areas that can fit into niche gaps that can be hard to fill, including cybersecurity, data science, and robotics process automation.
Phil Tarrant: We did a story last year, I can't remember exactly when it was, on defenceconnect.com.au. I've got it here in front of me, but there's a couple of points here, which I think will help shape our conversation today, Tom. It's full bullet points here, and I'll read them and just give our listeners a bit of context around life after uniform for some of our veterans.
It says the total veteran unemployment rate is 30.2%, significantly higher than the national average of 5.9%. Point two is, on average veterans take a 30% pay cut when they transition from the military to a civilian job. Point three, 19% of veterans are underemployed i.e., not working in jobs that match their skills. That's compared to the national average of 8.5%. The final point here is that Australian veterans are collectively underpaid more than $130 million based on their skills and experience.
They're some pretty alarming numbers, aren't they?
Tom Moore: Yeah. I guess to be a bit cheeky again, that's our report from when we first entered the market.
Phil Tarrant: It is. Well it's a story about you guys, so yeah.
Tom Moore: The quick thing that we found, and to hammer home again, we got out of the military and we thought we were pretty competitive guys and we struggled to get work. We thought, 'What's going on?' If our income support budget for veterans is 6.4 billion for a really low population, what's the issue? When we conducted our study, that three-month study, it was quite alarming.
Rather than whinge about it, one of the things that you're taught in the military is to at least fix the problem, and don't let someone else deal with it. We took that information and built out a plan that, if you have an economic problem that's that big, it's not just the ideal that veterans are viewed as damaged, for example, it's that maybe we're just missing a few skills to be competitive.
So, then the premise of our business was to match veterans to the right job and them up-skill them for professions, including things like cybersecurity, and robotics process automation.
Phil Tarrant: You mentioned that you found it difficult, life after service, to find work, so what is your story? You're ex-Army, what's your deployment history yourself, and when did you choose to get out?
Tom Moore: I joined the military at 18. In my family it's a rite of passage to serve the country. We've served in every conflict since World War One. I was recently lucky enough to go to Beersheba with Minister Tehan on the cyber delegation there, and my grandfather served there. It was sort of a rite of passage to prove your worth in a classic Australian fashion in the male side of my family.
I became an infantry soldier, did my degree, and then went to Duntroon. Graduated as an infantry officer in around, I think, 2011/12-ish, and I was lucky enough to deploy to Afghanistan in 2013, where I led a combat platoon in Kandahar, and Urozgan Province. Loved it, it was the job I wanted to do for life. I learned a lot about transformational leadership, learned a lot about very complex decision making, and learned a lot about the value of building the correct team. I came back amped, ready to start a military career, but in a way that's probably truly comedic, life hit and that was taken from me, where I sustained a number of injuries that led to my medical discharge within about 12 months.
So, to be short and sweet, I didn't want to leave the military. My last job in the military was terminations. So, I helped the military transition about 420 personnel, and that is a very tough job. It was within my own rehabilitation, so by the end of it I was pretty distraught personally. My mental health was significantly poor and I ended up leaving the Army that year and tumbled out into industry in about 2015.
I applied for about 100 jobs, and I did about 13 interviews, and I didn't get a job. I'm a young man that's managed 100 people, I've got a degree in education. I thought I was pretty good, I thought I was a pretty quality employee, and I couldn't get a job doing much. You know, something that we learn in Afghanistan is that if there's a problem that may seem like you're not trained to do and that looks impossible to solve, you have to solve it.
So, what we did was, a mate of mine who is one of the co-founders of the company, built an application that takes people's contact details, and we started cold-calling CEOs. The reason we did that is that we didn't have a personal network, and a professional network, which is what everyone was telling me to build, so I wanted to check if our skillset was valuable, so why not ring the guys at the top? The guys that got to the top? We did, and it led to 16 job referrals within two weeks.
What that proved is that maybe the transition process is not correct, and maybe the way recruitment's done in industry is failing some people. That sort of drove a sort of stake in my ... You know, a chip in the shoulder to look at it a bit later, but I ended up running marketing and digital marketing products and channel via an agency for HP, Dell, Lenovo, and Cisco. I was promoted four times within 12 months and realised, 'Hey, I could have just done this when I left, and I've just done this all the wrong way.' I've fired a shotgun round out into the Australian workplace and I've hit nothing, when I should have thought about what I was good at, what I wanted to do, where I wanted to work, and how could I make myself competitive, and how does that industry work.
After 12 months of doing that and working industry, we dealt with enough of our peers, and soldiers go through similar issues. So, you know, if you're 26 years old and you want to have a punt at something, we thought that we could definitely have a crack at fixing that unemployment rate and underemployment rate. When we looked at the figures initially it scared us and alarmed us, and drove us further.
Over the course of 12 months I'd argue that we're probably one of the leading veteran talent providers in Australia, if not number one. We've put over 290 veterans into permanent employment, and we roughly have 100-200 veterans training a month in a new career at no cost to them.
Phil Tarrant: To your point, this is just not, "Oh, look, we just need to tweak this a little bit." It needs fixing, right? This does need fixing. It sounds like your experience as you're exiting army, working that role where you were working with other people doing the same thing, I imagine it's a really emotive and challenging time for people. When you look at the unemployment rate with veterans at 30.2%, that is alarmingly high. Something really needs to get done, right? You guys are doing that.
Tom Moore: Yeah, and I think we've been very lucky for things like the Prime Minister's Advisory Council, which a lot of defence industry members are on, to build that platform. To start a conversation where we're not talking about people just being loyal and disciplined, we're talking that at intelligence analyst with 12 weeks of cyber-training is better than a network security analyst in industry because they've spent eight years threat modelling. It's not that hard to teach hacking.
I think we've been lucky and fortunate that the Ministry and the Prime Minister have built that platform, and I think it's positive to see defence at the senior level start to react and think a bit differently. There's a lot more to do, definitely, but we've been lucky enough in the environment of our organisation to work so fast because of that effort. I don't think that can be undervalued.
Phil Tarrant: Yeah. There's two things working in unison here. One is, and I'll ask your observation on this, is that is defence doing enough to prepare our service men and women for life after service? On the flip side of that, is Australian industry and defence industry open enough for understanding the value that veterans can bring? What's your observations on both sides of the fence there?
Tom Moore: I think the defence side is that the military's built to win wars and defend the country. It's not their primary task to outplace for people. In saying that, and we're working with a number of different areas within the Department of Veterans Affairs in particular, and luckily enough, with Minister Tehan, who recently just exited, on shifting it from a rehabilitation model to an outplacement model.
For example, when you transition you get allocated funding programmes and that sort of stuff, but none of them are reflected based off someone's employment risk. Let's say I'm a 12 year systems engineer in the Navy from a mechanical background. I guarantee that person's gonna end up at one of the defence industry contractors very, very quickly on transition with a pay rise. Now, let's take someone that's an 11 year infantry corporal, might be an exceptionally talented person, might be a very effective project manager in the construction industry, but his or she's employment risk is significantly higher. The person that's leaving with 12 years is allocated $2500 that's not going to use it, and the person that's done 11 years is allocated $253 for a CV.
The first issue there is applying an outplacement policy that's focused off employment risk. I think you'll find that defence will likely save a lot of money if they do that.
Phil Tarrant: Yeah.
Tom Moore: From there, taking it through rehabilitation model. The majority of people leaving, so 60% have no issue. They're just resigning with 8 years service. They're some of Australia's best men and women that have got a myriad of experiences that we spend a lot of time translating in our software system, but they don't need rehabilitation. They need a connection to the market, they need to understand where the jobs are, what the jobs require, and what skillsets, traits, and, I guess, their purpose, all combined to get there. So, a bridge. At the moment that bridge doesn't exist.
Where that bridge does exist, and to transition into defence industry before wider industry, is there is a very effective bridge for engineers and IT professionals. I think one of the issues in defence industry at the moment is that there's not enough talent, so then wage budget are increasing significantly. What we're saying is that they're is actually a whole bunch of talent that is security cleared, and with a little bit of training and a little bit of thinking differently, you can get combat and combat support professionals, re-train them in things Linux administration, cyber pen testing, and build out a whole capability that you might have struggled to hire for 6-12 months.
I think defence industry has adapted it a lot faster than everyone else because of the need to fill that shortfall, but also because the majority of the defence, primes, and smaller businesses are run by ex-military professionals. What I find with ex-military professionals is that they inherently care about supporting each other, it never goes away. I found defence industry uptake is higher.
Where I would push it is to why don't we think about the breadth of these jobs. You'd be surprised that we've taken combat soldiers that are bus drivers and deployed them in as senior pen testing consultants within 12 weeks of training. Better than the guys that are on site within ASX-listed companies. Those sort of stories are getting more and more frequent. That's the first thing I would suggest to defence industry, is look a little bit outside, and look at the other career paths.
Phil Tarrant: What you're talking about here is that someone who might not be trained for a particular path because they are ex-military, they're trainable, so you can actually transition them into those roles. If I'm defence industry, or even I'm not defence industry, I'm just corporate Australia, what is it about ex-military people which makes them attractive outside of that trainability?
Tom Moore: Outside of the trainability?
Phil Tarrant: Yeah.
Tom Moore: I've found that corporal professionals, in terms of traits, are loyal to the mission, not a personal target, are inherently adaptable, and generally apply a higher level of customer service satisfaction because stakeholder engagement has become a significant part at every level in every one of our military operations. Nearly everyone in the military is recently deployed. So, in terms of traits I think they're a better employee. I think you'd be hard-pressed to find that sort of level within those age brackets. You know, you're looking at young men and women between the age of 23-32 that are systems thinkers, that like to solve complex problems, that inherently apply initiative.
On the other side of the equation, there is lot of hard skills that are transferrable that we haven't recognised because we haven't sat down and worked it out. One of the first things we did at WithYouWithMe was do that.
So, for example, if I look at project managers, the best project managers I've found, junior and senior non-commissioned officers from combat and combat support corps. Why? Because they love to get things done, they know how to work within different teams and different levels of politics, and if you give them a box, they build a box more effectively than you could ever give them. If you look at, on a piece of paper, you look at a junior officer, they will have a Master's of Project Management because, you know, they can build it, they can do a plans role, which is a project officer role, a project management role. It's more inherently for the industry to grab that person and go, "Yep, understand you've managed 30 people, we've done this, this, and this."
I found that, generally, the junior officers are fantastic change managers. When you give them a box to build, they want to take it to another level and build it elsewhere. In corporate, we decided on what we wanted 12 months ago and we need it delivered.
So, we've succeeded in a number of industries now to convince companies to look at hard skills of people that wouldn't be considered to roles. If you take a junior combat soldier, they're fantastic problem solvers, they're resilient, they have a will to win. They are fantastic at sales and business development, and the reason they never start a job in it is because generally there's a university entry degree within a tech company or within recruitment.
We've worked effectively with people like-
Phil Tarrant: I'd echo your thoughts. We have some ex-military guys in sales here and they're exceptional.
Tom Moore: Yep.
Phil Tarrant: Often I sit there and I think about what makes them different and sometimes it's quite hard to quantify, but there's a bit of an x-factor there somewhere, just the way they approach particular challenges and their resilience. Yeah, I completely agree with you. There's something about it that works.
Tom Moore: We've worked out the science behind it. There's a good salesperson in Australia, which is hard to find for acquisition across any industry. You look at our recruitment market, the majority of them come from the United Kingdom because they're problem solvers, they're resilient, and the recruitment industry over there is 100 times more cutthroat than it is there, so you have to deliver consistently to survive.
Now, Australians are a little bit laid back. We don't like to push the envelope as much and we don't have that hunter sort of aspect. If we break down the hunter aspect of acquisitions sales, it's problem solving, and systems thinking. It's resilience, so the ability to continue to pick up the phone, and to look at a problem differently. Finally, it's the will to win.
Those three traits are taught to every single military member as part of their recruitment, but combat soldiers, they're 18 years old and even younger, they get out around 22-23 and they're exceptional. If you hang up on a combat soldier he's probably just going to laugh about it and try and get you the next day or just rock up at your office to convince you to do it. If you've ever been in a bar on ANZAC Day they don't stop talking.
Phil Tarrant: You know what? You've just articulated what I've been trying to find in terms of ... Let's chat offline, if you can find me some of those guys I've got jobs for them. Anyway, I digress. So, it's on the other side then. If you're military, or ex-military, but if you're military, a current service man or woman and you're thinking about what's next, how do you prepare? We have a lot of people like that listen to the Defence Connect podcast. What do you do to make yourself most attractive for life after uniform?
Tom Moore: One of the first things, we did a career expo, the first one for veterans in Australia. We had about 150 veterans there, we did about 300 interviews on the day. One of the big things we said to them was to actually do less.
I don't know if you've seen Forgetting Sarah Marshall, where he's teaching him how to surf, and he's like, "Stop thinking about it. Do less."
Phil Tarrant: Yeah.
Tom Moore: The point I'm trying to make is that they're all problem solvers for a living, and when we go to transition we don't just go, "How about we apply the military appreciation process to solve it." Inherently, just continue to be the professional that you are and just treat it as a problem that's within your defence environment. That's the best piece of advice I can give you because you can then solve it immediately for who you are.
Secondly, don't forget the other thing that we get taught, which is winning. We want to win, we're a mission-orientated organisation. We have to win. Apply that to your transition. Don’t take less, don't assume less. Find out what your purpose is work out how you can be competitive for that purpose and how that industry works, and then leave at the right time.
The last thing I would look at, you know, if the bad days in the military outweigh the good, it's time to go. For someone that's looking to do this effectively, we think we've built a pretty effective system, which essentially allows you, all for free, to sign onto our platform to conduct a test that will show you, based off your skills and personality fit, what you're already competitive for in the industry and your skills gap. Then we'll actually fund you to do the training to be competitive in that gap.
Phil Tarrant: So, you fund their training?
Tom Moore: Correct.
Phil Tarrant: Okay, and are you funded by the government?
Tom Moore: Nope.
Phil Tarrant: Nah, okay. How does that work?
Tom Moore: The recruitment industry is, I think, is time to change. They've had a good wicket for a while, and I think it's time to challenge it. How we look to challenge it at WithYouWithMe is that we take your short-term risk. How we started, for example, is that we looked at the NBN. Now, the NBN is a big project that will continue going for 10 years to 20 years including maintenance. One of the hardest things to get into is to become a telcom technician, because it's a 13 week course. Veterans don't have time to do a 13 week course. We pay to cover their training and essentially made the money back as a recruitment agent.
What I essentially do is, the traditional recruitment model is to pay me a percentage to search and retain, and then a percentage on placement. What we really do, really simply, is that we build you a pipeline of labour. Think of it as a pipeline as a service. The difference is that let's say you need 25 cybersecurity analysts, I will train you 25 cybersecurity analysts that fit your culture fit and all that sort of stuff, that are the right people for you, but I'll take the short-term risk.
Phil Tarrant: You front the funding at the front-end to empower the person and then you've got a pipeline of people who need these guys?
Tom Moore: Correct.
Phil Tarrant: Okay.
Tom Moore: What that means is that I have to deliver you the right person.
Phil Tarrant: Yeah, because you're taking a lot of the risk, right? If you invest in this person to up-skill them and then you can't find them a role there's a challenge on your side. So, you've got skin in the game.
Tom Moore: Definitely.
Phil Tarrant: That's not a bad thing, by the way. It has a lot of value.
Tom Moore: I don't think it's much of a risk when I've seen the talent that's in the Defence Force, and that's what we're doing differently in industry. What we're essentially saying is that, "I will take a short-term risk for you to build pipeline of labour so then it works within your corporate structure." If we deliver we just return on that investment. That's all.
Phil Tarrant: It's good.
So, who are you working with in defence industry right now Who's some of your ... If you're okay to disclose it?
Tom Moore: Yeah, yeah.
Phil Tarrant: What sort of customers are you working with?
Tom Moore: We've had a fantastic update from some of your larger sort of primes and companies like, Accenture, Lockheed Martin, but I've found that there is also a substantial market for the guys that are growing, like Agis Downer, companies like Invista are partners of ours.
Defence industry is definitely new. One of the big things that we're trying to focus on at the moment is to create a pool of ILS professionals, there is a complete shortfall of it. When you look at why is there a shortfall, there's no training course in Australia, so no one is being trained in that service.
For us, we've probably got about 10 defence partners in industry now, but I think-
Phil Tarrant: And you're hoping to get a lot more?
Tom Moore: Yeah, definitely.
Phil Tarrant: Okay. I'm happy to give you a leg up on that because I think it's great that the whole transition, and I think it's a bit of a motherhood issue for defence in industry as well. If they can be a gateway for life after uniform and look to cultivate those relationships and actually look to bring more ex-service people into defence industry, I know it's something that's important to them. You sitting in the middle, taking a lot of risk to actually up-skill and train people for this marketplace, I think it's a really good initiative and it's good to hear that defence industry is getting behind you guys.
Tom Moore: I think so. One, I think it's natural because of the people that are involved in defence industry and, you know, for years they've had their own transition processes and the people who have set those up should be applauded for it. I think it's also time to take it to another level, right? You've got the majority of the military combat and combat support professionals, with a little of training, could be some of your best talent and it could give you a competitive advantage on your next tender.
I'd ask them to be a bit broader in their thinking, but it's definitely great to see the uptake.
Phil Tarrant: If you had a wishlist for transforming the way government thinks about this, obviously you want to shift that paradigm into the up-skilling into life after defence, rather than rehabilitation, but what would you want to see? What would you want to see from the Prime Minister or Defence Minister in terms of supporting veterans?
Tom Moore: I guess in the first instance, is to take a ... I think something the American military do really well is a 'military for life' attitude. When people leave it's not that they're against the military, maybe seven and a half years is enough. Losing talent and having a natural attrition rate isn't a bad thing. Having a positive focus on delivering them to industry and having a positive transition process through something like an outplacement process instead of rehabilitation process, allows them to get out of the military, get a high-performing job, and then recommend the military as the best seven years of my life. So, increase the talent pool coming in.
Phil Tarrant: Good point.
Tom Moore: The second thing is it would definitely be good to see, I think defence industry really links some of the veterans leaving to some of the smaller SMEs that are really starting to pop up. It's quite easy for someone with the marketing power of a prime to grab heaps of guys and girls. What we've learned is that some people really thrive in the start-up and emerging space based off their personality as a transition point.
If I transitioned into a massive corporate company, I would have been really upset. I don't think I would have worked. I had the same freedom, I was given a lot more leg rope to do what I wanted at a smaller agency and it allowed me to develop quicker.
So, I guess the second point is really, if we're going to tackle veteran employment, we have something like an Industry Advisory Council. It would be really good to see something like a Defence Industry Sub-Committee with some of the SMEs and emerging companies that are powered by some really good junior military professionals that have left, have a seat at that table, I think.
Phil Tarrant: Yeah, that's fair. I think it's a pragmatic solution for a very modern military and modern work-life balance, right? If you can do seven years, 10 years in a military, that's a huge investment on behalf of the individual to the nation. I think it's important that they get looked after and supported for life after service. If our government can continue this focus I think it's critical.
Tom Moore: I guess the point to make, and we could be very easily to poo-poo something like Veteran's Affairs. One of the biggest issues is that the transition program is run by the Department of Defence, and then the output of that has to go to DVA. Now, they're two separate things, so it would be good to see that brought together, either through technology, so it's actually a lot faster, but also very clear lines in the sand.
The other thing to sort of look at is, they're spending 6.4 billion in income support. They're trying their best to look after it. I think it's, in all cases, it's time to look at, if we want to solve a big problem, it's the 30% unemployment rate, 30.2%. Why don't we let industry have a crack at solving it and that was fantastic to see when Prime Minister Turnbull announced that as part of his Advisory Committee, which is industry needs to help us solve this problem.
What we've seen really effectively, is companies we didn't even notice, companies like Randstad, companies like Stryker, companies like Amazon, SAP, look at the problem differently and go, "Hey, we want some of that top talent," and come running to help. That's been because defence, and Prime Minister and Cabinet, have targeted looking at veteran employment as a foreseeable solution.
What we'd like to see is what have we done in the last 12 months? What works? Where has it worked well? Places like the UK and the US, and how can we bring that into our processes?
Phil Tarrant: It's good, so there's probably some business listening, Tom, who are going, "I want to know more about you guys." How do you track you down? You got a website or something?
Tom Moore: Yeah, yeah, so one of the first confusing things, I have like three Toms that work at my company, so it's always an interesting Monday morning or Tuesday morning, but you can definitely find us at withyouwithme.com or we're more than happy to pass direct contact details to myself after the episode.
What's next for you guys? What's the next year, two years looking like? You going to keep this growth going?
Tom Moore: Our key objective is to hit 1000 veterans in meaningful employment by June.
Phil Tarrant: All right, it's pretty ambitious. It's good. How many have you done now so far? Where are you at?
Tom Moore: We're close to 300, with 400 finding their own employment through the programme. We place 300 directly and 400 through our services have gotten there. I think we're going to hit it, or my ambition is to definitely hit it.
Phil Tarrant: Good. It's good to have a goal.
Tom Moore: I guess we're very lucky to have a very high performing team that sort of embodies the vision. I sort of just rock up and try not to ruin anything and everyone else there does all the hard yards, and they should be applauded for it.
The other two things that are sort of coming this year is we have about three careers expos this year. Our first one this year is in Brisbane, which I know is trying to position as a bit of a defence industry hub, and we've got one in Sydney and Canberra. If new players in defence industry want to work with us to bring the cards to the table they can interview and have 300, 200/300 veterans -
Phil Tarrant: So, you're going to pull a whole bunch of veterans in and then you're going to match them up with businesses who are looking for veterans?
Tom Moore: Correct. Yeah.
Phil Tarrant: Okay.
Tom Moore: There will be guys that are through their training, halfway through their training and considering leaving. We just ran one in Sydney, we had about 26 employers, a lot of defence industry players there, people like Downer have done some pretty good work there. We ran roughly 330 interviews on the day.
What it does is that it helps the recruitment teams, the non-military people in the organisation, not look at a piece of paper and go, "That doesn't meet my criteria." It allowed them to have 20-30 interviews with high-performing individuals from the military, or that have left, or are thinking of leaving. It had a really positive impact. We're going to run that out three or four more times this year.
Phil Tarrant: I'll finish with this question, Tom. You're painting this picture of a very talented resource pool of veterans coming out of service, and I completely agree with you, we went through all the reasons why they make good employees or team members. There's a whole bunch of new major defence acquisition programs coming online over the next period of time and this war for talent's going to heat up. People are going to be scrambling to get the best people.
If I'm a defence prime or a defence SME, how do I become an attraction business? How do I be the company that someone coming out of the uniform wants to work with? How can I be the person now, it might be a two, three, five year lead time before someone comes and joins my business. How do I be the one that they want to be? What do you need to look like as a really good attraction business in defence?
Tom Moore: I guess the first thing I would do is come to our career expos, we're going to have quite a few hundred veterans there, just to plug that. Think outside of your normal careers. What we've done is we've worked out where the gaps are at the market. For defence industry, for things like ILS, agile project management, data science, automation and robotics process automation, and cybersecurity are going to become growing things that defence industry needs.
I would suggest either working with us to build a programme to target those niche careers that can create you a return on investment, so it's systemic. If you hire, like you run a program, like a specific cyber employment, that Accenture's essentially just executed with WithYouWithMe, then that's 10-20 veterans rocking up trained, ready to deploy in your workforce. You're deploying 20 people, defence members are a word-of-mouth referral times 1000, so that positive experience is something to look at.
To be short and sweet, look at programs on how you can broaden the defence talent pool. One of the most effective ways of doing that is running a network engagement to display the culture of your organisation, and look at ways that you can offer work experience and training. It's a fantastic thing to build skillsets and for you to test labour before you hire them.
I would suggest, if I was really serious about it, I'd be looking at what I'm going to bid on in the next 12 months to two years, what pipeline of labour that I want to build, and I'd be picking one or two. I'd be targeting those two, and I'd be building a specific programme to target that skillset and that audience.
Phil Tarrant: Good. Tom, I've really enjoyed the chat. Keep doing what you're doing, I think there's a definite need to support our veterans coming out of the services in corporate Australia, or defence industry, but it sounds like you're enjoying it as well.
Tom Moore: Definitely. I think we do have a lot to learn still. We're a growing company. We're a bunch of young men and women, we are ambitious, but we definitely are looking to step up our game in defence industry, help solve the consistent cycle of talent shortages, and at the same time help a lot of veterans connect with meaningful companies and meaningful jobs.
Phil Tarrant: It's good. Keep the spirit going. Remember to check out defenceconnect.com.au. If you're not yet subscribing to our daily market intelligence, defenceconnect.com.au/subscribe.
We'll be back again next time. Until then, bye bye.