Training as an Ammunition Technical Officer, Mark Dixon graduated from the Royal Military Academy at Sandhurst, England in 1985. Over the following 20 years he commanded one of the UK’s Regional Bomb Disposal Teams, was seconded to the US Technical Intelligence Services and worked as a Squadron Commander in the Iraq War.
In 2005, Mark joined the Australian Army, transitioning through the ADF’s lateral recruitment program. Working in Bandiana, Canberra and Melbourne, he served in the inaugural Counter IED Task Force, deployed to Afghanistan as part of OP SLIPPER, became the Commanding Officer of the Army School of Ordnance and served as the Logistics Lead Staff Officer in the headquarters of Land Systems Division.
In 2015, after three decades in the military, Mark decided to transition to civilian life: “30 years is a long time and I left the Army for all the right reasons. I had an opportunity to move closer to my family and work in a new sector that changes lives through education and training.”
Transitioning from Colonel to CEO of Wodonga TAFE in regional Victoria, Mark’s Army career “stood him in good stead,” with the military training him to be adaptive, agile and ethical.
“I think Defence personnel lead by example and we understand the importance of active listening, and making everyone in the organisation feel valued and a part of the team. These are somewhat old-fashioned principles but still critically important in every business. We need to demonstrate humility and moral courage and most veterans have learnt these attributes.”
After a four-year stint at the helm of Wodonga TAFE, in which time, with Mark’s direction and leadership the organisation won the 2018 Australian Large Training Provider of the Year Award, Mark decided it was time for a new challenge, taking up the role of CEO at Wodonga City Council in 2019.
When it comes to finding a job, Mark knows how important having a mentor is, and his advice to job-seeking veterans is to speak to those who have gone before them.
“We are all keen to help veterans and often it’s those connections that can help you get your CV right for a particular role or get you over the first hurdle of being interviewed. Practice interviews are also important; we often haven’t had to sell ourselves and can even under-sell ourselves through a lack of commercial awareness.”
On the other side of the equation, Mark urges all employers to give veterans a chance, back them and work with them to fill any gaps in their capabilities.
“We are quick learners, committed and loyal, so an investment upfront in professional development will deliver great long-term outcomes for employers. Everyone is different and employers just need to give veterans a go, take a chance with a wild card interview and as an employer, if the veteran isn’t successful please give them honest feedback.”
While transitioning Defence members may be apprehensive about what lays ahead, Mark encourages all veterans to have the self-belief and self-confidence to back themselves.
“It is very easy to find a job after your Defence career that you love just as much as your Defence service to your country. Find a job you love doing and you will do it well, the job is more important than the salary package.”