As my introductory blog, I thought I would give you all some of my background and interests so you know where my viewpoint comes from.
Firstly, I am an Army veteran who retired as a Major after 14 years service which included two tours of Iraq and Afghanistan. My time in the military prepared me well for commercial life. I learned to be mission focused, how to manage and apply my resources to achieve seemingly impossible tasks, how to lead diverse teams in stressful situations and created a mindset that allowed me to think through and overcome obstacles as they arose. The military teaches you how to think, not what to think and this is directly applicable to almost all of the challenges I have faced in industry.
My transition into the commercial sector was smoother than most veterans for two reasons: 1. I completed two Masters degrees in Project Management and Capability Development and Acquisition, and 2. My last role in the military was the Senior Project Manager on the Air Defence Replacement project which helped me create a good network in industry and learn what made industry tick before I made the jump to civilian life. For these reasons, I was able to find myself a position within a US based Aerospace Consulting firm as the National Director of Strategy and Business Development. I absolutely loved that job. As the only executive here in Australia, I had full autonomy and was able to drive the company in new directions within the Defence sector. However, I soon realised that there was something broken in the Professional Services market and I made the choice in 2016 to start my own company in the hopes of solving it.
The problem I am solving is employee underutilisation. As we know in contract based industries, the contracts rarely line up. This creates the situation where valuable staff are sitting 'on the bench' in-between contracts costing the business thousands with no revenue in return. I became frustrated seeing so many small businesses in the sector close down or lose their most valuable people for this very reason. From my own perspective, I should have been focused on winning the next strategic contract yet I found myself chasing short-term contracts to fill the gaps just so we could keep our staff on the books. Without our staff, we had no capability. Simple as that. What I realised was broken in the industry was that underutilisation was accepted as common business practice. Sure you can try to absorb the costs into your overhead and hope you can make it through to the next contract, but that is no way to sustainably grow a successful, profitable business.
It wasn't until I was listening to the key sourcing manager for a large enterprise vent their frustration that they didn't have a high quality bench of professionals just sitting there to respond to their customers short notice requirements that the idea for BenchOn was born. What if we could digitally match business's idle staff to the short notice, short-term contract requirements of reputable companies and Government Agencies? So, we created a platform to do just that. Effectively, we have created access to a hidden, untapped pool of talent in industry - the happily employed. By using our full-time staff more productively, we quickly found that it reduces company overheads, increases profit and allows businesses to grow sustainably and create new, stable full-time jobs for our economy. Win/Win!
Since starting BenchOn, I have become fascinated with the Future of Work and how we can better prepare ourselves for the huge challenges we are going to face in the next 10-20 years. I am a big advocate for small business as small businesses are regularly the source of the specialist, niche skills that will continue to advance our economy. In addition, small businesses are one of the largest job creators in Australia and as such, should be supported. I have two kids so I want to do what I can to make sure they have options for a fullfulling career when they enter the workforce.
Digitisation is creating a wave of change in our industries; some bad, some good yet this is where our future lies. I look forward to discussing, debating and exploring this complex landscape with all of you so that we can collaboratively better position ourselves and the country for the unknown future just ahead of us.