BAE Systems Australia’s new chief executive Gabby Costigan – who took over the reins from Glynn Phillips – officially started in her new role on 1 January, and is feeling confident and upbeat in her position.
Costigan told Defence Connect’s Phillip Tarrant on the Defence Connect Podcast that she felt the first day of the year was the ideal time to start in the new role, adding that she always knew her first few months would prove very busy connecting with all levels of the business, its supply chain and her senior executive team.
“I’m comfortable; this is an industry that I know,” Costigan said. “I'm really glad to be back working with defence. I've been out of Australia for several years, so it's nice to be back in Australia; it's nice for my family to come home.”
Referring to the upcoming results of some high-profile tenders, Costigan noted that she was joining the company at a pivotal moment.
“There's a couple of big announcements coming, and I want things to happen,” she said.
Subsequent to Costigan appearing on the Defence Connect Podcast, BAE Systems Australia was formally announced as the successful tenderer for the hotly contested $1 billion JORN upgrade under Project AIR 2025 Phase 6.
BAE Systems Australia was unsuccessful in being down-selected for the coveted LAND 400 Phase 2 project, which was announced last week, however the business is well placed in the competition to secure the $35 billion SEA 5000 Future Frigate contract, which is expected to be announced this financial year.
Costigan – who joined BAE Systems Australia in October last year for a transition period prior to the departure of the then CEO Glynn Phillips, who has joined the ranks of BAE Systems’ UK business – has an impressive record relating to the military and senior management.
She is an ex-colonel in the Australian Army, has gained key insights following collaborations with NATO and has also been deployed to Afghanistan.
In Afghanistan, Costigan worked in logistics. In addition, she was posted to Central Command in Tampa in the US. Following that chapter in her defence history, Costigan made the move to civilian life and was soon named as CEO for Linfox Asia.
Costigan conceded that some might say she had a fairly unusual military career.
“I joined the Army many, many years ago now. I loved the Army, everything about it,” she said, adding that saying farewell to the military life was not an easy thing to do.
“It was a really tough decision to leave, actually, but when I did decide to leave the Army, I left going out on a high, because I did do some amazing jobs in the military,” said Costigan, who is an engineer by background.
She also worked in Army aviation for several years.
“When Afghanistan and Iraq kicked off, I deployed to Afghanistan and worked in logistics. I was really fortunate to come back and work for two fabulous generals as their adviser, which was Chief of Joint Operations General David Hurley and Lieutenant General Mark Evans,” Costigan said.
Costigan went on to say that this position in particular would become one of her most cherished assignments.
“That job for me was probably one of the highlights of my career, because it really exposed me to the broader defence world that when you're a young junior officer, you don't really get to see or understand,” she explained, adding that a high-level stateside stint also provided her with the opportunity to get some exposure to the political side of defence.
“I was very fortunate to be posted to the United States to work with the US military. I went to Central Command in Tampa … the two major campaigns at the time were run out of that command. That was just the most brilliant job ever for me at that stage of my career. I ran multinational logistics for the US government, which was an incredibly diverse role.”