Gregory Wynne: The Veteran Transition Experience
Wednesday, 27 October 2021
Article by Gregory Wynne, Systems Engineer, Boeing Defence Australia
When Greg Wynne was unsure of what to do when he finished school, he chose to join the Army Reserves. Teaching him confidence, teamwork and a love for maths and science, Greg has since completed an electrical engineering degree and taken on his dream role at Boeing Defence Australia.
Becoming an engineer is not a vocation that I had always aspired to – until my post-school life, I had never really liked maths or science. But that’s where my time in the Army made a difference – it helped me grow and inspired the confidence I needed to start my degree. I’m now working as a systems engineer at Boeing on one of the world’s most capable air battle management aircraft, the E-7A Wedgetail.
I started a TAFE course after finishing school, but soon decided to follow in the footsteps of some family members who had served in the Australian Defence Force. I chose to join the Army Reserve and was encouraged to join the Royal Australian Engineers Corps as a Combat Engineer or Sapper. Sappers work on tasks ranging from demolitions, explosive device search, construction and watercraft operations and this variety appealed to me.
After a year full-time working with trade attachments, I became interested in becoming an electrician. I had the option to transfer into regular service or go back to Reserves. I took the first opportunity that became available, which was an electrical apprenticeship in the civilian sector so, over the next few years, I became an electrician and did Reserves on the side.
It was during this time that the work I undertook in the Army Reserve gave me the confidence to pursue an electrical engineering degree. Despite being offered an opportunity within Army, my circumstances led me to apply for civilian internships and I secured my role at Boeing.
One of the great things about being a Reservist is that you work with people from all different backgrounds, careers and walks of life and you can learn so much from other people’s experiences. My time in the Reserves taught me the value of getting to know your peers through non-work related conversations outside of the transactional work, and the value of teamwork.
In high school, I competed in high-level athletics which, for the most part, is an individual sport. An example that stays with me was the first night of field basic training with the Reserves. We were given 20 minutes to shave, clean our rifles, reapply camouflage, eat and pack up. I remember anxiously trying to do all of this and dreading being called out by the instructors for not finishing. Suddenly, one of the other recruits ran over to help, focused me on what needed to be done then and there, and reassured me there would be time to eat later. To this day, I strive to be like that recruit in that moment, taking the initiative to support my teammates.
At Boeing, I feel like I have the best of both worlds. I am able to stay connected with serving members while working in a supportive environment that understands the unique skills that Veterans and Reservists bring to the workplace. It also provides me with flexibility, growth and learning opportunities, and strong esprit de corps.
While I gave up Reserves in my final year of university due to my study and work commitments, I kept my status as ‘inactive’ and still have a couple more years available if I decide to go back. I remain humbled and honoured to have served with many extraordinary people who have helped shape me into the enthusiastic, flexible and curious person I am today.