Originally starting her career in banking, Future Submarine Program Performance and Controls Manager Tina Saxon-Weeder definitely didn’t plan on working in defence.
With 10 years in the financial services sector working in Information and Communications Technology (ICT) under her belt, deciding try another industry wasn’t an easy decision. “At the time temping was typically the stepping stone to changing careers”, Tina explains, and that’s how she ended up working at a military vehicle site which was where she fell in love with defence.
“There was one day when a huge military tank drove by my office and just casually parked out back. For an IT banker, it was cool, and a good story to tell my family!” laughs Tina.
From there, a defence star was born. But that’s not all!
The multitalented Tina also gives time to her other passion; photography. The lens behind Instagram account @tsw_cameraroll, you’ll find lots of familiar Adelaide icons as she captures everything from street art to SAHMRI.
How long have you worked at Naval Group and what is your current role?
I started as the Performance and Controls Manager as part of the program management office for Naval Group Australia in May 2019. In this role I look after the function of program planning, scheduling, performance, reporting and conduct workload analysis. The Future Submarine Program all starts here, my team does all the planning for the phase we are currently working in and we deploy project management tools cross the whole program.
We are currently in the very early stages of designing the submarine, so my main focus is planning all the infrastructure that is needed to build the Attack Class. There is so much planning that happens before we can even start thinking about building these ships. I need to make sure we have all the right people for the jobs, the systems in place to help people do their jobs correctly, and ensure we hit our milestones for the shipyard. You can’t build a submarine without the shipyard!
What is the main project you are working on at the moment?
For the next few years my role is about about making sure everyone has the right tools, people and processes in place to manage the complex program when we begin to build the submarines. As we continue to progress there will be even more work for us to ensure we are ready for full production on the Attack Class.
Even though we are still in the design phase, we do a lot of forward planning to ensure we’ll meet deadlines, be within budget, and have the right people for the job when the time comes. I work closely with HR so they know what areas and industries they’ll need to start looking to find workers from.
In these early stages, a lot of my work is about creating efficient processes for the next phases. The task at hand will only continue to grow as we move into the next stage of the program.
In her spare time Tina is capturing Naval Group Australia’s capital city Adelaide in all its glory, and has an enviable Instagram following (far more than the recently launched @navalgroupau, but we’re on a mission to catch up to you Tina!)
Would you encourage people from industries other than defence to jump in and give it a go?
Absolutely! Coming from a banking background, I owe a lot to my mentors who helped me navigate the defence industry. We have so many people here at Naval Group Australia that didn’t start in defence; there are so many transferable skills that make you perfect for this job. We have such a diverse workforce that continues to surprise me. One of my schedulers used to make pâté for Maggie Beer, another organised the production of paint for warships, but they both had skills and experience that made them right for the Future Submarine Program. I think it’s really interesting the ways you can get into defence, it’s not always the one path from school to university to a job like people sometimes think.
What is the best thing about working at Naval Group? Any highlights you would like to share?
I love that I started with Naval Group Australia when there was only five of us in the team and since then we’ve been able to grow to 17.
I absolutely love the culture at Naval Group Australia. Getting to work alongside French employees, as well as the usual Aussies creates an atmosphere that’s really special; it’s so different to where I’ve worked before, and while it’s busy, and sometimes stressful, there isn’t a day that we don’t laugh or have fun in the office. I really hope we bottle that and take that energy and attitude through to program milestones over the years.
I also like knowing that in 10 years, I’ll have played a part in building something so complex and important to Australia’s history. I’m excited to also see our hard work pay off in the long run – there’s nothing quite like seeing that tank, ship or submarine when its finished. It’s the tangible product of lots of people’s hard work and it’s an incredible moment when you finally see what all those decisions about timelines and budgets created.