What's your job about?
Saab Australia does work over multiple domains. Our two most notable products are the 9LV Combat Management System (CMS) and OneView. 9LV is used by both domestic and international Navies across the world to act as essentially the brains of large frigates, Landing Helicopter Docks (LHDs) and other naval craft. OneView is a security management system primarily used in prisons but we have also installed it as part of other large infrastructure projects.
I started my Saab life on the Maritime side of the business working on the 9LV CMS but since my recent graduate rotation, I have found myself on the Civil side working with OneView. I’m currently part of the deployment team which takes care of configuring and installing OneView onto individual sites. My days are usually spent in our configuration tooling preparing the product for our individual customer’s requirements.
What's your background?
I grew up two hours north of Adelaide in the Riverland. I was at a school of ~90 kids R-12 and because of this, I never really got much exposure to engineering. From year 10-12, I did a few TAFE certificates in software development as part of achieving my SACE while also doing various farm jobs and fruit picking to earn some coin.
When I was 17, I moved to Adelaide to start my Bachelor of Software Engineering (Honours) at UniSA. From being in a graduating year 12 class of ~10 students to sitting in a lecture of ~300 students was a bit scary to say the least.
In my third year of study, I got approached to take part in a new partnership between UniSA and Saab Australia. This partnership would involve a semester exchange to KTH Royal Institute of Technology in Stockholm, Sweden as well as a six-week internship at Saab AB. I realised this would be a great opportunity, so I said yes. I had to go through an interview but they liked me enough to give me the internship.
I spent a total of seven months in Sweden and then came back to Adelaide to finish my final semester. When I returned to Adelaide, I was offered a graduate role at Saab Australia, and a casual position until I finished my final semester. I accepted both and have just started my second year as a graduate.
Could someone with a different background do your job?
Technically, yes. However, there are still prerequisites to become hired and to perform the job in an efficient manner.
Some of these prerequisites would include having an engineering or IT degree (while my degree is in software, any adjacent engineering streams would still be suitable), excellent problem-solving skills and the ability to perform well in a collaborative environment. Someone new coming in would obviously have a lot to learn that you can’t teach at uni but having these underlying skills will greatly increase your rate of upskilling significantly.
What's the coolest thing about your job?
Definitely, one of the most satisfying things is being stuck on a problem for hours/days and then finally figuring out the solution. This is just engineering in general I guess but that is why I joined the profession
At a much higher level, you get to work on projects that you can actually see. You know all those ships and prisons are actually using software that you helped design and create.
Another great thing is the Grad School program at Saab where every fortnight the current graduate cohort get together in a classroom for half the day and learn about business, engineering, and personal development.
What are the limitations of your job?
The defence industry moves slow, so projects you work on might not be delivered for some time – even after you have already rotated out of the department after your first year at Saab. The defence industry also prefers battle-hardened and proven technology instead of the latest and greatest fad so the tech stack is safe but not very exciting.
3 pieces of advice for yourself when you were a student.
Say yes to every opportunity. Become known to your lecturer. Don’t be fake, but be forward in asking questions - this will increase your opportunities to say ‘yes’ to
Frequently check the careers page at your university. It’s a wonderful source for any internships and casual work that you can do while still at uni. Try to fill up your summer holidays with work experience as this will immensely help once you graduate. It will also expand your network as you’ll meet people from lots of different backgrounds and disciplines.
Try to gain some international experience. This experience could either be in the form of a semester exchange, short term study tour or simply just personal travel. It will give you a new perspective and opens your mind up to what’s possible throughout your life/career.