Joining the Army in 1999, Emily Frizell spent 18 months in service before deciding that a career in the Air Force was more aligned to her aspirations. Transferring in 2000, Emily worked as an electrical engineer in acquisition projects, focussing on aviation software, electronic warfare and tactical data links.
After a 15-year career in the ADF, Emily decided to discharge, wanting to have more control over her career. Beginning the job hunt, Emily interviewed with a range of big businesses, and it was there she realised that to achieve her goals, she needed to work for herself. That night she registered her consultancy firm, AeroPM, and with the assistance of her husband set up a LinkedIn profile and ordered business cards.
Over the next few months, as she continued her transition out of the Air Force, Emily began networking. “I reached out and caught up with some known acquaintances working for themselves. I asked their advice, and lots of questions about the market and how to find work. It was all very new and exciting - I was absorbing so much new information every day. Colleagues put me in touch with others they knew who had consulting companies, and I continued my research and networking.”
After obtaining insurance - a lengthy process with a considerable price tag - Emily began applying for consulting roles. “I applied for a project management role in Defence as a consultant and, while not successful, I was asked by the project if I could be the engineering manager. This occurred in my last week in uniform, and so the following week I commenced my first role as a consultant.”
Today, Emily’s business has grown exponentially and she now employs 40 staff members, many of whom are veterans. “Our current workforce comprises of over 80 per cent veterans and our company actively supports and employs transitioning veterans,” explains Emily. “Being awarded the 2020 Outstanding Veterans’ Employer of the Year Award at the Prime Minister’s Veterans’ Employment Awards was a personal highlight, and an apt reflection of the effort and achievements of the AeroPM team.”
Having made the shift, from an engineering consultant to CEO, Emily is confident that all veterans have the skill set to thrive in a civilian career. “The skills and attributes you have acquired from your time in the military are so valuable in the civilian workforce. In particular, soft skills such as leadership and teamwork, critical thinking and problem solving, will serve you well.”
While Emily lacked confidence when she began job hunting, speaking to friends who had transitioned before her, provided much needed direction and advice. “I was fortunate to be able to learn from others’ transition experiences. I really don’t think I would be here without the support of my husband and friends. Now I’m in a position to support others who are transitioning from the ADF, and I am always happy to meet with veterans and provide advice.”
Discharging from the military is a time of immense change, but Emily says it’s important to remember your career is not over, rather a new chapter is beginning. “A civilian career can be just as rewarding and engaging as a career in the military, if not more. You now have the opportunity to define your own career path.”