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Workforce mobilisation next challenge for defence industry

BAE Systems Australia CEO Gabby Costigan has warned that in order to be able to compete for major defence tenders in any credible sense, Australian key players should focus more strongly on this potential pitfall.

Costigan said there was, in essence, nothing particularly challenging about the Australian market or supply chain that could hamper the rollout of key construction projects.

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“I don't think there's anything particularly challenging about Australia,” she said.

“I've worked all over the world, and we've got very capable SMEs and highly skilled workers in Australia.

“The challenge will be around mobilising the highly skilled workforce, and then being able to deliver on that.”

However, the BAE Australia chief did note some promising developments in this space.

“I think one of the things that the Army certainly teaches you is how to work in a team. In my experience of working across multiple countries now, collaboration is incredibly important to success,” said Costigan.

“I think right now in Australia, within the defence industry it's really at a very unique moment in that it's nice to see that although we're competitors, we work together, and we can work together well.

“Those partnerships and those teaming arrangements to deliver the best capability to the customer is what we're all focused on. It's not about us doing it on our own.

“Whether it's with SMEs or whether it's some of our bigger partners such as Raytheon, and Thales, or Lockheed Martin as an example with F-35, those alliances and relationships are really important, because at the end of the day, we're here to deliver the best capability that we can to the Australian Defence Force.”

Costigan also highlighted just how important it was deliver the best quality equipment to the defence customer.

“Because I have seen first-hand how important it is for the Australian Defence Force to have capable, sustainable, cost-effective equipment moving forward,” Costigan added.

“Our job is to protect those people who protect us, and we need to make sure that they've got the most sophisticated, advanced technologies, because it is critical.”

Summing up, Costigan was confident that BAE Systems Australia would be in a position to handle any of the large lucrative contracts currently being coveted by several manufacturers.

“As I said earlier, the mobilisation work that we've done to date, I'm very comfortable with where we are right now,” she said.

“Should we be successful, we're very well positioned with an Australian workforce that will be able to deliver this capability.”

Still getting used to her new role spearheading the firm’s Australia division, Costigan said there was still much to learn.

“I think the first few months for me, there will be constant learning going on,” she said.

“The communication with my management team and the broader BAE is really important for me. I have regular meetings collectively with my management team, and then I'm trying at the moment to get out to as many sites as I can to meet more of the broader BAE team.

Costigan’s leadership approach also includes taking modern media seriously.

”I have a blog and I've done a few different live videos to the organisation,” she said.

“What you see is what you get with me. I love to meet people. I love to go out and see what we're doing. The more exposure I can have to the business, the better.”

Workforce mobilisation next challenge for defence industry
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