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Ashley

Economic Advisor

Department for Industry and Skills

How did you get to where you are today?

I started off in the army as an infantry soldier where I learned a range of skills I use today, such as communication, time management and teamwork. After doing my time in the army, I completed a finance degree and began working for an Industry Skills Council, first as a project officer and then as a workforce development advisor. This gave me the opportunity to gain knowledge of the vocational education sector and to build new skills, including data analysis and project management. Most recently, I have been working for the Training and Skills Commission as an economic adviser, as well as undertaking post-graduate study in economics.

What does an average day look like?

An average day might include reading some reports to keep up-to-date on the latest research, conducting some data analysis on vocational education, the labour market or skills development, and working on writing a policy advice paper.

What do you love about your job?

I love getting to work on big picture projects; things which may have a far-reaching impact and will hopefully benefit individuals, businesses and the state.

Why do you do what you do?

I really enjoy getting to research and think about interesting topics and to form advice based on the findings. It speaks to the Sherlock Holmes in me.

What are some of the struggles you faced?

It came as a surprise to me that I went through a period of struggle after I returned to Adelaide. I believe this was largely due to what I perceived, or felt to be, a loss of identity. As a soldier, you have a clear idea of who you are, what you do, and that you can be proud of that. I could not relate to most other students, and as for other people my age, they had mostly finished their study and were well on their way to having established careers. I never sought any help to discuss my situation, which in hindsight it would probably have helped a lot to do so.

How do you think the skills you learnt in the army contribute to your career in the Public Sector?

There’s no doubt that certain skills learned in the army are useful in my current role, from communication and teamwork, to working under stress, or leadership and management. However, I think the biggest attribute which contributes is simply the character that you build in the army; the can-do attitude, the attention to detail, the confidence that you can achieve far more than you realise.

Do you have any advice to Veterans looking to transition to the Public Sector?

All I can say is that I took the hard-working attitude from my defence days and applied that to transitioning to a new career. My pathway included further education and then building new experience and skills. I’d say try and reach out to people who work in the sector, particularly in an area where you would like to work, they will be able to give you a better understanding of what the work is like and what is required to land a job. Also, don’t think you have to do it alone, there are plenty of places and programs which are there to help.

Why have you chosen to work in South Australia?

Having lived elsewhere in Australia as well as overseas, and having travelled to around 30 different countries, I think I have a good appreciation for the lifestyle that South Australia offers. For me, it is the perfect balance of not being too busy, yet having virtually everything you could want on your doorstep.

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