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Department of Defence

  • #3 in Government & public services
  • 1,000 - 50,000 employees

Yvonne Yung

The thing I love about working in the Submarine Domain of the Department of Defence is all the cutting-edge technologies and projects, some of which I have had the privilege to be involved in.

Where did you grow up? Important stages of your life (school, education, experience abroad, jobs etc.)

I grew up in North West Sydney and lived there all my life up until after university. During my education, I didn’t have a long-term career plan. I participated in Science and Engineering Challenges in high school, which cultivated my passion for engineering, but it wasn’t until I had the opportunity to undertake an internship at ResMed in 2015 that exposed me to the interdisciplinary nature required in an engineering role, and gave me the confidence to jump at a graduate position in the Department of Defence in 2018 and I haven’t looked back since.

How did you get to your current job position? For how long have you had it? 

After university, I was keen to develop and apply the skills and knowledge that I had learnt during university as well as contribute to our technologically advancing and constantly changing world.

The Defence Graduate Program was a perfect opportunity for me, as it is a rotational program that offers a wide range of on-the-job and off-the-job learning and development opportunities on nationally significant projects!

My first rotation involved testing land materiel and developing work instructions for various testing capabilities. My second rotation had me making engineering recommendations and decisions on sustainment tasks related to surveillance and control equipment while following local systems engineering processes. I was looking for a final rotation that exposed me to new capabilities, but also consolidate skills I had learned. This led me to the Submarine Domain and since February 2019, I have been positioned as Staff Officer to the Submarine Capability Transition Plan.

How did you choose your specialisation (compared to others)? / Were you weighing up any other alternatives before choosing this specialisation?

As an engineer, choosing a specialisation can be daunting, but through my experiences, you have the opportunity to pursue different paths of engineering, whether it be deepening your technical knowledge and skills or engaging in engineering activities unrelated to your degree.

As my final rotation in the Graduate Program, I was looking for a project-based role in the Acquisition space, with the opportunity to develop my systems engineering skills while still being involved in some technical work.

The Submarine Domain presented a unique opportunity to apply both my analytical skills and project management skills to the complex Future Submarine challenge. My role provided an opportunity for highly engaging activities to develop different types of technical skills and to further understand the logistics of Defence’s complex operations from a systems engineering point of view. It was also an opportunity to gain a more in-depth understanding of how the engineering function of CASG and Defence integrate and a chance to have more interaction and collaboration with stakeholders.

What was your interview process like? What kind of questions were you asked?

The interview process leading up to being accepted into the Graduate Program was fairly straightforward. The first stage consisted of an online application and some online testing. Following this, I was invited to attend a further screening and assessment processes, of which there was a written task and an Assessment Centre. During the Assessment Centre, there was a range of activities and exercises including an interview and some group exercises.

I was asked standard interview questions around technical skills, communication skills, teamwork and your cultural fit to the Department. Don’t forget to give examples of your skills and how you used them.

What does your employer do?

The Capability Acquisition and Sustainment Group (CASG) are primarily responsible for purchasing and maintaining military equipment and supplies for the Australian Defence Force (ADF). I work within the Defence Submarine Domain and one of the branches within the domain is the Future Submarine Program. This is Australia’s largest defence procurement program, that will deliver 12 regionally superior submarines over the next 50 years.

What are your areas of responsibility?

My role consists of systems engineering, operations analysis and decision support for the Submarine Capability Transition Plan 2020, a document consolidating decision considerations that will impact the transition from the current Collins Class submarine force to the future Attack Class submarine force. This has involved a number of studies and evaluating the submarine force based on a range of modelling and simulation efforts that predict and compare the outcomes of alternative strategies and decisions.

Can you describe a typical workday? What was the last thing you worked on?

My work is centred around the Submarine Capability Transition Plan 2020, which involves many things, so there isn’t’ a ‘typical work day’ per say.

Since the Future Submarine Program is still in its early stages, one of my jobs is to make sure that Navy’s planning assumptions are accurately represented through collaboration and coordination with modelling and simulation teams.

Some other things I get up to include using analyses to put together and mature evidence supporting recommendations from the Navy and creating briefs to communicate technical information for the engagement of stakeholders such as Navy, Contestability, CASG and other Government Agencies.

What are the career prospects with your job? / Where could you or others in your position go from here? 

I’m hoping to continue working in the Submarine Capability Transition Plan Team, branching out into the wider Future Submarine Program could also be a potential path.  There are also other branches in the Submarine Domain, such as the Submarine Combat System and the Collins Submarine Program, which are interesting areas to work in and require engineers to help sustain Australia’s submarine capability today.  

Defence is full of many projects that many current and ex-graduates like myself are working on right now!

Could someone with a different background do your job?

Absolutely! This role has involved a lot of on-the-job learning and even though my background in engineering provided some of the critical thinking and technical modelling and simulation skills required, I’ve found the best way to learn has been to immerse myself in all things submarines and get as much knowledge from subject matter experts.

The Submarine Domain is very diverse and you can pursue different avenues depending on the skills you already have and the skills you want to develop.

What would your career be if you weren’t doing what you’re doing now? 

If I hadn't been accepted into the Department of Defence Graduate Program, I probably would have never been able to be exposed to the wide range of Defence capability and associated engineering activities. It continues to be an incredibly worthwhile job with many exciting paths for further development.

What do you love the most about your job? Which kind of task do you enjoy the most? 

The thing I love about working in the Submarine Domain of the Department of Defence is all the cutting-edge technologies and projects, some of which I have had the privilege to be involved in. 

The tasks that I enjoy in particular are the analytical based ones - e.g. using data analysis, visualisations, modelling and performance evaluations to investigate complex issues effectively and influence important aspects of decision-making. The collaboration with peers to share knowledge, build analytical skills and facilitate outcomes that benefit the present and future capability matters within the Department of Defence has also been extremely rewarding. These are all examples of things that stemmed my initial desire to study engineering, and being able to do this as a job now has contributed to a highly fulfilling career thus far, maintaining my drive to enact positive change in the greater community.

What’s the biggest limitation of your job? Do you bear a lot of responsibility? Do you have to work on weekends? Are stress levels high?

As with any job, there are hurdles that cannot be tackled as an individual so it’s really important to work collaboratively with other colleagues and rely on each other when deadlines are looming and things get stressful.

With that said, I try not to take work home with me so that I can maintain a good work-life balance, and that’s worked for me so far!

Which three pieces of advice would you give to a current university student? They don’t necessarily have to be related to your role or even be career-focused.

  • Extracurricular activities and getting involved in campus life and university societies is a great way to develop your teamwork and communication skills, which is a highly regarded skill in any work environment.
  • Find your passion through internships and ask for advice from practising engineers. It’s a really good idea to get work experience while you’re still at university so that you have an idea of what things interest you before you start looking for graduate roles!
  • Take the opportunity to get out of your comfort zone at times. It’s a great way to know what you need to work on and who knows, that could lead to bigger and better things!