Graduation Day

28 Mar

Talk about ‘transferable skills’ and a list of buzz words comes to mind, which have been the staple lexicon of many a modern-day resumé. Move to Australia and, as in most cases when transferring a career to another country, no matter how similar, those ‘transferable skills’ suddenly don’t seem to transfer so well (at least, not until it suits them.) It is true the world over I expect and certainly is what James has been experiencing for the past few months (and therefore by default, me too.)

Over a year ago, James was on a ship, mentoring students on their Navy PWO (Principal Warfare Officer) course. He was helping out as a qualified PWO himself. A few months down the line, it transpired there were some advanced elements of the Australian PWO course, which James had to pass to fulfil their criteria. Attempts to get his Royal Navy qualifications recognised (RPL) were unsuccessful, so it was back to being a student for a while.

Then came the twist: Can you also teach part of the course you’re meant to be a student on, thanks. (Those previous qualifications can’t have been completely useless then…)

So while James was ‘on course’ he was also writing and preparing a large part of the final exam and then conveniently got his RPL so he could become a staff member. Weeks of stress, late nights, early starts, working weekends, meetings, briefings and not to mention spreadsheets and flowcharts are now over. One day, when James has recovered, he may feel able to tell you about it 😉

Wednesday was ‘graduation day’ and James and his fellow students received their certificates and awards from his fellow staff members. Confusing? A little. Probably more so for James who has been wearing both hats for the past few months. At least he didn’t have to stand up, shake his own hand, present himself a certificate and talk to himself. In fact it was a very proud moment watching him graduate, with a handshake from the Fleet Commander, Sydney harbour as the backdrop and a special mention in the student rep’s speech for, ‘sleeping, dreaming and breathing’ the part of the course he instructed. The hard work all paid off with plenty of praise from his colleagues and students and even a special, personal thank you from a Commodore.

With the PWO course seen as a pre-requisite for command and one of the highest standards for a Naval Officer to attain, the graduation ceremony reflected the significance, with guest of honour, Her Excellency, the Governor of New South Wales, Marie Bashir. There was tea, there was cake, there was the national anthem, there were speeches and certificates and there was glorious sunshine to top it off.

James graduates PWO49

Marie Bashir with Officers

James has flitted from instructor, to student to staff member over the past year but whatever hat he has worn, he has clearly worn it well and made good use of those not-so-transferable skills.


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