Name: David Welch
Did you serve in Army, Navy or Air Force?
When did you serve?
What job role did you undertake?
What were the favourite parts of your job?
Regimental service in Australia and overseas – much greater camaraderie and shared sense of purpose than in staff roles in headquarters.
Did you deploy to any other countries? If so, where and what was it like?
- Malaysia: 1986, as an instructor at the Malaysian Army School of Electrical and Mechanical Engineering – highlight was gaining a deep appreciation of many aspects of Asian culture, and the different sub-cultures of Malaysia – also, meeting and later marrying my Malaysian wife.
- England: 1989, student at Royal Military College of Science – highlight was gaining a very deep understanding of current and emerging military technology, and visiting many multi-national defence manufacturers. For an engineer, this is nirvana!
- Germany: 1993-94, exchange posting with the British Army – company commander in armoured workshop battalion – highlight was being involved in exercises with armoured brigades, command post exercises at the divisional level and preparing detachments and individuals for deployments around the world, also the honour of commanding soldiers from another nation’s army.
- East Timor: 2002, senior logistics officer on UN peacekeeping force headquarters – highlight was working with officers and soldiers from so many different nations, all with a common purpose; I believe that I had personnel from approximately 10 nations working in my team.
What is one of your favourite memories while serving in the Defence Force?
Most of my memories are about the people I served with. In the early days it was my class mates at Duntroon, later it was my various bosses who provided guidance and opportunities for me to learn and the colleagues who provided companionship. In command positions at company and battalion level it was the opportunities to guide and nurture soldiers, NCOs and young officers and to see them grow in experience and confidence. In later years it was the opportunity to influence the future direction of defence systems and equipment that would be operated by sailors, soldiers and airmen and women.
What did you learn from the military that benefited you most in life?
I am thinking of a couple of things, and am having difficulty narrowing down to just one or two:
- Probably the most important lesson was about looking after the people in an organisation – both in the immediate short term and in the longer term: training them, supporting them with appropriate processes and policies, providing ongoing mentoring and training and preparing for later stages in their careers.
- Having a plan for what it is you are doing (failing to plan is planning to fail), and thinking through all of the ways in which your plans may be impacted by events outside your control
- Keeping a sense of calm and perspective when things start to go wrong – particularly when in a leadership position it is critical for everyone involved to see that the boss is calm in a crisis
What do you miss the most about serving in the Defence Force?
I most miss the camaraderie that exists in training institutions and in regimental service – though I left those types of roles more than 10 years before I completed my Army career. That said, 35 years after graduation from Duntroon a small group of us now get together annually – either in Australia or overseas – for a few days with our partners. Other than big bike riding events, this is one of the highlights of my year.
What is your job now?
General manager of ACT branch of Communications Design & Management, a medium-size ICT services company that provides services to many government agencies, including Defence
Why and when did you take up bike riding?
About 18 months ago I resumed triathlons after a 30 year break – mostly as it was an opportunity to participate in a sport with my two adult children. I found that my body (particularly knees) were no longer up to the running, and that I did not particularly enjoy swimming in Canberra’s Lake Burley Griffin; however, I found that I really enjoyed getting out on the road – either alone or with a group – for a long ride. In early 2016 I joined Pedal Power and have been a regular participant in organised weekend rides and events. Over the year both speed and endurance have improved to the extent that I am undertaking and enjoying even longer rides and more demanding rides and events.
What are you most looking forward to on Pollie Pedal Bike Ride 2017?
In no particular order:
- An arduous physical activity that will be particularly challenging
- Opportunity to be in close company of senior federal politicians from both major parties over a number of days – particularly to understand what they are like as ‘real people’ away from the camera lens
- Opportunity to interact with senior business leaders (corporate sponsor representatives)
- Opportunity to ride in areas that I would not normally venture, and to visit small rural/country towns and communities
- Opportunity to spread the word about the important work that Soldier On performs for Australia’s veterans
- Opportunity to spread the word about the different experiences of veterans during and after service
Donate to David’s Pollie Pedal Page – https://polliepedalsoldieringon.everydayhero.com/au/david