Elena Christaki-Hedrick joined Naval Group Australia a year ago after completing a Bachelor of Laws (Honours), Bachelor of Arts (French Studies) and an Honours Degree (French and Politics) at the University of Adelaide. Since then she has completed her Graduate Diploma of Legal Practice (GDLP) while working at Naval Group Australia and now works with the company as a Corporate Lawyer.
What is your role at Naval Group Australia?
I work in a small team with two other lawyers, the General Counsel and Senior Counsel. As a Corporate Lawyer my main responsibility is assisting the General Counsel in procurement support, including reviewing supplier contracts and reviewing and managing non-disclosure agreements. Another key responsibility is supporting the General Counsel in governance matters, which includes managing the legal compliance register and ASIC (Australian Securities and Investments Commission) requirements. I also manage the cultural integration program at Naval Group Australia, which includes delivering a cultural awareness training program to all staff. I have been provided the opportunity to manage this program due to my experience studying and living in Paris and teaching at the Alliance Française.
Why were you interested in working for Naval Group Australia?
I am an unapologetic lover of all things French and I was very conscious of keeping French in my life after graduation. I was initially attracted to working at Naval Group Australia because of the unique partnership between France and Australia. There are not many opportunities in Australia for French speakers to use their language skills as part of their job, let alone for Australian lawyers to use and speak French day-to-day. For me Naval Group Australia was the perfect combination of my two areas of study, Law and French.
As your first professional role since leaving university, what notable opportunities has the organisation provided you with?
In 2017 I completed my Graduate Diploma of Legal Practice with Naval Group Australia. I completed my GDLP over six months at full time capacity. I was very fortunate that the company supported my study requirements because working and studying full time would have been much more difficult without the support and flexibility my team provided me. I was admitted as a barrister and solicitor of the Supreme Court of South Australia in
December and I have been practising as a lawyer since then.
How does it feel to be a young Australian working on a 50 year, multi-generational program?
It’s strange to think that I could potentially work on the same program from the beginning to the end of my career. We often refer to Naval Group Australia as a “start-up” because although the Group has existed for hundreds of years, Naval Group Australia’s story has only just begun. As a young graduate it has been very unique to be part of the early establishment of a company and to see how much a business can grow in just two years. When I commenced with the company there were approximately 30 employees, now there are 87 and this number is continuously growing.
What activities does Naval Group Australia undertake to ensure everyone is engaged and connected?
For major holidays and events our Communications team organises all staff events such as an afternoon tea for the Melbourne Cup, a barbeque for Australia day and most recently, an Aussie lunch for ANZAC Day. We also celebrate the French national day “Bastille Day” with a crepe lunch. I think it’s really special that we incorporate both Australian and French elements into the social culture at Naval Group Australia because it reflects the spirit of the Future Submarine Program.
What is the culture like at Naval group Australia for a millennial beginning their career?
For me the culture at Naval Group Australia is one of the best aspects of the job. The environment at Naval Group Australia is not overly formal and flexibility in the workplace is encouraged. Being a young company we have had the opportunity to mould a culture that is suitable to our people and the type of work we do. I think our culture has been influenced by the fact that some of my colleagues have moved their lives from France to Australia (and vice versa) to facilitate the transfer of knowledge and skills required to build and maintain the Future Submarine Program with sovereignty. As a national Program a number of colleagues have also moved from interstate, which has encouraged a welcoming and friendly atmosphere. As someone new to the workplace, I have greatly appreciated this.
What advice would you give to current students?
Learn a language! Learning a language other than English is not easy and it usually takes years to become fluent. I think that people for whom English is not their first language appreciate the amount of effort it takes native English speakers to learn a new language and it says a lot about their personality. I have found learning a language allows you to see the world differently and I think people who have learnt a second language find it easier to connect with people from different cultural and linguistic backgrounds. Not only does this boost your employability but it helps to shape you as a person and makes you a better global citizen.
Visit us at the upcoming French Career Fair and Expo’s to be held in Adelaide.
Tuesday, 15 May:
UnisSA Mawson Lakes campus: 10:30 – 12:00
UniSA City West campus: 16:00 – 18:00
Wednesday, 16 May:
Flinders University, Student Hub: 11:00 – 13:00
Thursday, 17 May:
The University of Adelaide, Hub Central: 10:00 – 15:00