Defence Force Recruiting Spotlight - Getting Techy with MAJ Fordham
16 February 2022
- Defence Force Recruiting is proudly sponsoring and speaking at the upcoming State Tech Summit on careers in the Australian Defence Force. Get to know speaker MAJ Fordham, and gain an insight into the amazing career opportunities available for emerging tech professionals.
What’s the first thing that comes to mind when you think of a career in ICT?
The Australian Defence Force (ADF) may not be your first thought, but unbeknown to most, it offers roles for tech enthusiasts with a love of all things cyber and gaming. It’s for people with ambitions that soar to the satellites and back, and offers a career pathway that could take you all over the country, and the world.
We caught up with Major Joshua Fordham to discuss the road he took to pursue his passion for everything tech in the ADF over his 17 years of service.
Q: When did you join the ADF?
A: I joined the Navy in 2004 when I was straight out of high school. I worked for more than 8 years with Navy initially. I specialised in communications and enjoyed it so much that I wanted to pursue it further, so I joined the Army to further explore ICT as a Signals Officer.
Q: Why did you choose to work in Technology as a Signals Officer in the Army?
A: I enjoy a challenge and understand the national importance of effective communications and ICT for Defence. Everyone, at every level in Defence, requires some sort of access to ICT and radio communications – it’s inherent to everything we do. I decided to become a Signals Officer in the Army because of the ability to influence the deployed network. I’ve enjoyed learning about the complex technology installed in deployable networks, and how we can manipulate networks to ensure information gets to where it is needed.
Q: What is your role? What does a day in your life look like?
A: As a Signals Officer, my days can be long but there is balance and I fit a lot into my day. I get up early and do physical training with my team in the morning. During the day, I manage our deployable ICT project team, and work to ensure our people and equipment are ready to deploy.
We do a lot of work in the South West Pacific and I have a team deployed in Vanuatu to deliver a radio-based national emergency network. We ensure the radio towers are ready for connectivity through high-frequency radio networks to enable the Vanuatu Government to react and provide coordinated response to emergencies. A lot of my day is centered on managing and coordinating those two assets.
There are a lot of tasks that come up with short notice, and agility and flexibility are required. However, I’m home in the afternoon to spend quality time with my kids after they finish school.
Q: How do people go about getting into the ADF?
A: I joined straight from school and had no previous training.
Everyone applies with Defence Force Recruiting and goes through a process which involves medical, aptitude, psychological and fitness standards, background security checks and interviews.
It might seem daunting, but it’s all necessary to ensure you have the qualities the ADF needs whilst helping you to identify your ideal role.
There are three Army ICT pathways:
- Army Officer
- ICT Specialist
- Cyber Specialist
No prior experience is required; the Army teaches you everything you need to know to become an expert in your field.
Q: What are some of the Tech Roles available in the ADF?
There are a range of different tech roles available in the Army, from hands-on roles to more strategic ones. You’ll be handling some of the world's most advanced weaponry and equipment, supported by formidable armoured vehicles, high-tech aircraft and sophisticated ICT systems.
Q: Tell me about one of your most exciting days in this role.
A: In 2017, I was the lead ICT Planner responsible for merging a combined Australian and New Zealand task force. We were responsible for supporting 400 people in an operation to combat terrorism. The ability to support this initiative with different systems and processes across deployable networks was technically challenging and professionally rewarding.
Q: Where are the career opportunities available in the ADF? Can you be posted in the capital cities or internationally?
A: There are many career opportunities in this field, and it’s growing. Working as a communications, ICT, cyber or electronic warfare specialist in Defence will enable you to develop a highly sought-after and attractive skill set with internationally recognised qualifications.
There is the opportunity to work across the breadth of the ADF providing support to operations both domestically and overseas. It’s a varied and rewarding role with opportunities to work closely with all units across the ADF. You could be working anywhere from an office, an armoured vehicle, or a ship, and gain experience working with tanks, artillery, aviation, and military vehicles.
Q: Can you tell me about an inspirational person or mentor you’ve looked up to in your career?
A: Both being and having a mentor is very important and Defence provides opportunities for both. For me, there hasn’t been one person in particular, as I’ve worked with many inspirational people. I have always approached my superiors and subordinates with the view that I can learn something from them. My approach is that if you come in with an open mind and willingness to learn, you will do just that in the Army.
This approach is how we take ICT networks too, merging all the information from subject matter experts across a battlefield (including personnel managing workforces or health planners) to make sure the commander can make the right decision at the right time.
Q: What are the benefits of working for Defence?
A: There are a lot of benefits I’ve enjoyed from working in Defence, including on-the-job training, job security and trusted mateship. The pay is great and I’ve been able to move up the ranks to progress my career.
There’s also the housing assistance, medical and dental cover.
Q: I’m a tech professional and interested in a part-time role in the Army Reserve. Are there specific tech projects available as part of Army Reserves? How do I go about applying? Is there an age cut-off?
A: Working as a reservist, you are placed in situations where you can really make a difference at home and overseas, and do something you can be proud of. There are roles to suit people of different skills and abilities and you receive training to be ready to serve if and when, Australia needs you. You can apply from 17 years of age and can enlist up to and including the age of 60 years. I’d encourage anyone interested to reach out and find out more.
For more information about an ICT career in the ADF, visit defencejobs.gov.au or phone 13 19 01 to speak to a recruiter.