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Interview: Dave Catling

Leonie:

All right, so good to go. Can you still hear me okay, Dave?

Dave:

I can hear you, yes.

Leonie:

Yeah, great. All right, so what I would love is if you could just talk me through your work history up to the point of contacting Churchill.

Dave:

Okay. All right, well I have to go back a little bit here. Initially I left school and commenced with BP as a terminal operator or side operator, [inaudible 00:00:36] operator and yard hand, so I actually started in petroleum very early in my career.

Leonie:

Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Dave:

I was with BP for four years and then decided that it would be good to go in the military, so I moved into and joined the Air Force and actually moved into petroleum management and refueling tank management, so driving heavy vehicles, refueling vehicles.

Dave:

After 11 years and a couple of moves and a family, I thought it’s time to leave defense and I commenced with the current company that I’m with. Actually prior to that I had a job for two years as a tanker driver, and then I applied and got the position with the company I’m with now.

Dave:

Initially when I first took the position with Broadspectrum, who were Transfield Services then, I was the southeast Queensland petroleum manager looking after three sites within-

Leonie:

With the Air Force?

Dave:

No, no, so this was at Broadspectrum.

Leonie:

Oh, right, okay.

Dave:

We’re a defense contracted company, yeah, so I left the Air Force after 10 and a half years. We’re a defense contractor that won the contract in December 2014. I commenced that week and started the contract as the petroleum manager for three sites in Queensland.

Leonie:

Right, okay, so you were able to make the transition from defense into Broadspectrum reasonably easily?

Dave:

Yes, yes, reasonably.

Leonie:

Yeah, that’s good.

Dave:

Yeah, not too many issues at all.

Leonie:

Okay. Was that because of your specialist experience with petroleum, would you say?

Dave:

Yeah, and defense, so I think the majority of my career has been spent in petroleum and then in defense as well. I had both of the attributes needed to work as a defense contractor but still managing petroleum, whereas a lot of external applicants coming in from say your BPs, your Shells, your [inaudible 00:02:39] don’t have the unique defense qualifications.

Leonie:

Mm-hmm (affirmative), so Broadspectrum are a private company who provides services to defense?

Dave:

Correct.

Leonie:

Right, okay, so what do they do? What do you do?

Dave:

Actually at the moment I’m the National Operations Manager for petroleum.

Leonie:

Great, yeah, and what does Broadspectrum do?

Dave:

Everything, so we have about 24,000 employees globally. We manage stores, fuel, fire services, airfield operations, a myriad of contracted responsibilities within defense, so any of the essential services or any of the side services, maintenance and that sort of stuff. We manage the entire lot.

Leonie:

Okay, got you.

Dave:

I’ll see if I can find a fact sheet on Broadspectrum and what we do in defense through email, and I’ll email it to you because it would take hours if I sit here and explain all of the individual facets we have within defense.

Leonie:

Okay, that would be great.

Dave:

Yeah, I’ll see what I can find.

Leonie:

Okay, great, and so tell me what made you start looking for RPL and how did you find Churchill Education?

Dave:

I actually spoke to one of my colleagues who had RPL through you guys and she recommended that I have a chat to you and see what I can do. What struggled was I started in a lower level position and then moved in as a Queensland NT manager after 12 months with Broadspectrum, so I sort of started jumping through. The national management roles were being split up and separated, so we’ve had a bit of a restructure, and in speaking with the recruiting manager I said, “I’m very interested,” and they said, “You have the physical skills and the experience, but on paper you’ve got nothing.”

Leonie:

Interesting.

Dave:

So he said, “I know you can do the position, but because it’s a national management position you will need to demonstrate some sort of education behind you.” He said, “I know you can do it. I’ve seen all your reports and your writing in your emails and how you act around the client, but you do not have anything on your resume that stands you out from anyone else.” Speaking with a colleague, she suggested I contact you guys and within three or four days I had the answer that I was entitled to four diplomas.

Leonie:

I bet that was good news.

Dave:

Very good, yeah. It was very good. I didn’t expect that much, to be honest. I thought maybe one or two, and when it come out at four even better. At that stage I had applied for the national position hoping that I would get something from you guys to say here’s some sort of educational side, and when I presented those four diplomas to the recruiting manager they were shocked and they said, “Wow, this is really good. It’s good that this is recognized,” and subsequently I received the position in a very close race with one of the other staff members that applied.

Leonie:

That’s so great, and a $17,000 pay raise I read in your comments.

Dave:

Yeah, so it jumped about $17,000 and a new company vehicle.

Leonie:

Fantastic, so if you hadn’t have had those qualifications you would have been overlooked, I’m imagining, for that promotion.

Dave:

Yeah, look, I can’t say 100% certain, but yes. As I said, it was a very, very close race.

Leonie:

Right.

Dave:

The other applicant and I had very similar skills and backgrounds. He comes from the same sort of industry and background as I do and we had the same on paper, so having those extra was a little kick along that got me the position, if that makes sense.

Leonie:

Okay.

Dave:

[crosstalk 00:06:46], so I think I would have been in a close race with someone else, but this just put me up that extra rung on the ladder.

Leonie:

Yeah, great, and so likewise you didn’t know for sure that spending that money on qualifications was going to guarantee you a job either, did you?

Dave:

No, it was a $6,000 gamble my wife said, so a $6,000 and it paid off.

Leonie:

Yeah, good. What was the conversation with your wife around, “Hey, thinking about doing this. What do you think?,” six grand out of the family budget?

Dave:

Yeah, that’s a funny one. I actually tell her that I applied, so I went through the application process and I heard back from John to say, “Congratulations. You’re eligible for four,” and that is when I rang her and sent her the details. I said, “Hey, guess what? I’m entitled for four.” The next question was, “How much?,” so we both decided. I mean, at the time it was an idea, but we both decided that we had to make it work because I was on the verge of stepping into the next level, which would have meant the pay rise and the extra perks that go with it, so I had to throw down and decide red or black basically.

Leonie:

Yeah.

Dave:

She said, “Look, we’ll just have to do it. We’ll make it work,” so we did.

Leonie:

And it paid off.

Dave:

It paid off, it paid off. I think it put me over the line in the end, just that little extra to have those diplomas, so with my other qualifications I think I’ve got four diplomas and two cert fours now, which puts me straight ahead a lot of the other people in the company. I’m actually more qualified than my boss.

Leonie:

Oh really? That’s funny.

Dave:

He has a lot of experience, he has a lot of experience in the company and the industry on paper. I have more qualifications than he does.

Leonie:

Mm-hmm (affirmative). You should tell him to come and look up Churchill so that he doesn’t have to feel worried about you taking his job.

Dave:

I have. I have, but I think he’s at the stage of where he’s ready to retire.

Leonie:

Oh, okay, yeah.

Dave:

I think he’s like, yeah, I’m just going to ride out the next couple of years, and then I’m going to sit back on the beach and drink coffee into the afternoon.

Leonie:

Oh, nice. Was there any particular reason that you didn’t mention to your wife that you applied for RPL initially?

Dave:

Not particularly. I mean, there was that little fear of rejection so to speak [crosstalk 00:09:14].

Leonie:

From your wife not liking it?

Dave:

No, no, not that she’d like it. I just thought I’m not going to get her hopes up and say, “I could get this sort of stuff,” and then turn around and say, “Oh yeah, you get a partial completion in this.”

Leonie:

Oh I see, so you mean rejection in not qualifying for anything?

Dave:

Yes, yeah.

Leonie:

All right, got you.

Dave:

I went through that with the defense RTO. I mean, they told me that they were going to sell me the world and you’ll get all this, and I walked out with a partially completed cert four, which everyone looked at and laughed. It’s a quarter of a cert four, you know? High school kids are getting more than that coming out now.

Leonie:

That’s a big difference, between a partial certificate four and four diplomas, isn’t it?

Dave:

Yes, yes, it is a big difference.

Leonie:

Wow. When you talk to other ex-defense colleagues, is that a common experience?

Dave:

Yes. Until recently, yes. I think defense in probably the last 18 months to two years has smarted themselves up and actually started recognizing what people do instead of doing the half assed effort that’s gone on. “Yeah, we’ll just give them that and they’ll be happy with it.” [inaudible 00:10:23], so probably the last two to three years at most the defense RTO, the guys that I worked with, I previously worked with, don’t even both applying when they leave now because there’s no point. You get nothing out of it, so what’s the point? It’s a waste of time. I actually send them to you guys. I’ve actually got copies of John’s business card and phone number on my desk that I had out to those that come in.

Leonie:

Wow, that’s great.

Dave:

Yeah.

Leonie:

Oh wow, so that’s a great story. Now your next goal is looking at a bachelors?

Dave:

Yes, the next goal is Bachelor of Business, so that’s hopefully on the cards to kick off very soon. I just have to weigh up with the coordinators to see what I have to complete to do the Bachelor of Business, but the more that I look at it for diploma of business I’m pretty well a half to three quarters of the way there with the current diplomas that I have with you guys. Depending on what way I decide to go, whether I go the bachelor or the diploma, I haven’t decided yet, but we’ll just see what works out best for now.

Leonie:

Yeah, well I would imagine that given that you’re in a role as a National Operations Manager that you’re most likely qualified quite a bit above a diploma now-

Dave:

Yes.

Leonie:

And it’ll be interesting for you to go through the process of finding out how much credit you can get off a bachelor. You might get quite a lot.

Dave:

There’s a couple of universities that do individual learning and mapping, so UNE is one in particular that I’ve been speaking to. Swinburne do a little bit and also University of South Australia actually do individual mapping from memory. I’ve looked at about three of them, [crosstalk 00:12:20].

Leonie:

Okay, and with a view to complete whatever study you need to remotely?

Dave:

Yes, yeah, they’re going to be remotely.

Leonie:

Yeah, and so will you do it as well as full time work?

Dave:

Yes, I will, and a family.

Leonie:

And a family.

Dave:

And a business.

Leonie:

How old are your children? And a business as well, far out.

Dave:

Yeah, I’ve got a business and my wife’s got a business, so seven and five.

Leonie:

Oh wow, and what’s your business?

Dave:

My wife’s a midwife, a private midwife.

Leonie:

Okay, great.

Dave:

Yeah, she does midwifery and she’s actually just about to commence her masters.

Leonie:

Oh, wow.

Dave:

Yeah, we like it busy.

Leonie:

Yeah, good on you. You’re really giving life a good, red hot go, aren’t you?

Dave:

Yeah, I’m just looking … I mean, our company, unfortunately we’re on a limited contract with defense. Defense like to change contracts every five to ten years, so we really only have probably another four years to go before we look at our contract either being renewed or handed out to the next bidder, so I’ve got to secure my future for myself, you know?

Leonie:

Yeah.

Dave:

I’m in my thirties. I’ve got to secure what I’m going to do for the future before everyone else, so I can get in and see what positions are around. That means that I have to get the bachelors now, and do it tough, and finally ease down in a few year’s time into another role. We’ll see what happens.

Leonie:

Yeah, that’s really smart. I guess qualifications really are an insurance policy and an investment in the future, aren’t they?

Dave:

Exactly, yeah.

Leonie:

Yeah, great. I mean, you already said that you recommend Churchill to other colleagues, which is really fantastic. A standard question that I sort of … A couple of finishing off questions that I always ask is what do you say to other people who are considering leading defense and going back into civilian?

Dave:

Certainly to contact you guys to see what they’re entitled to. As I mentioned before, the defense RTO system doesn’t hold much weight. I mean, I relied fairly heavy on it when I was leaving defense, thinking that I would at least get a good cert four or a couple of cert fours to help transition out when really I would have been better off coming through a company like yourselves to try and get something under me to push through in the corporate world. I mean, the civilian world is hard and the training nowadays is a lot more accessible and a lot easy, especially through the cert four process, into diplomas where people can access it a lot more than what they could probably 10 to 15 years ago.

Leonie:

Right, okay.

Dave:

Yeah, so I think it’s a pretty competitive world out there. The defense RTO system is useless, so you have to go through external companies or start training with an external company before you even look at getting out of defense, in my belief.

Leonie:

Okay, and so you think things have gotten even more competitive in the civilian world?

Dave:

Yeah, I do.

Leonie:

Yeah, mm-hmm (affirmative). Okay, and then-

Dave:

Yeah, it’s what I’ve witnessed. I’ve be interested actually to hear what your team have to say, given that you’re in the environment every day, whether you think it’s improved or not, or changed.

Leonie:

Look, I mean, obviously we’re coming from the point of view of being a training organization who provides qualifications, but definitely what we are repeatedly seeing and hearing from graduates is that it’s just more and more important to have qualifications-

Dave:

[crosstalk 00:15:54].

Leonie:

That you won’t even garner an interview if you don’t have appropriate qualifications, regardless of how much experience you’ve got.

Dave:

Yeah, and that’s right. I mean, I did recruitment on behalf of the company for some of their roles as well, and the applicants that we get through … I mean, I’m recruiting for a position at the moment and the applicants we have through have substantial experience in petroleum, so we have a gentleman that’s applied for one of our roles who has been working in Mongolia, Tanzania, and all over the world in large petroleum LMG factories and that sort of stuff. He doesn’t have any qualifications. Judging from his resume, he’s probably in his late fifties, mid to late fifties. He’s got bucket loads of experience, but he doesn’t have the qualifications and he’s just picked at the post by everyone else unfortunately.

Leonie:

Oh, wow.

Dave:

We’ve been writing, for example, in risk assessments and that sort of stuff. Now we need people that are trained to do our risk assessments and swings in incident management, so he can have all the experience in the world, but unfortunately the formal qualification is what’s needed on the paper.

Leonie:

Oh, that’s so interesting, isn’t it, because people in their fifties would have had at least half a lifetime with qualifications not being that important-

Dave:

Yeah.

Leonie:

But now things have changed.

Dave:

Yeah.

Leonie:

Yeah, and that’s a bit of a shame, isn’t it, that those people are going to be overlooked-

Dave:

It is, yeah.

Leonie:

When possibly they’re the most qualified person for the job, but without the qualifications done on paper they don’t even make the maybe pile, do they?

Dave:

Yeah, exactly right, and that’s where they need someone like you guys, where they can sit down and go, “Okay, I’ve been doing this for 25 years,” and you can map it out for them, so vitally important I think.

Leonie:

That’s great, Dave. Thank you so much for your time.

Dave:

That’s all right.

Leonie:

The last thing that I would like to ask, is there anything that you feel that we could improve on or be doing better?

Dave:

To be honest, no. I mean, the process was so simple.

Dave:

One thing that I do notice, this actually makes me laugh, is you guys have diplomas through Fast Track.

Leonie:

Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Dave:

I don’t know if I caught John and the team on a quiet day, but I mean, I submitted everything early Friday morning and I had a response Monday. I’m like, “What’s the Fast Track? Am I going to get it Saturday?” I mean, that was the reality.

Leonie:

Oh, okay.

Dave:

I mean, it was really quick.

Leonie:

Yeah, right.

Dave:

I had absolutely no issues with your process in any way, shape, or form. It was so easy.

Leonie:

That’s awesome. The Fast Track applies to the actual mapping through to the final qualifications, so we definitely always do try to get the preliminary assessment back within a couple of working days.

Dave:

Okay.

Leonie:

But then in the back end there’s quite a lot of work that goes into the thorough assessment, through to the actual awarding of the qualification. Of course we’re very regulated, so we need to really make sure we’re dotting Is and crossing Ts, so we normally say that that takes 14 days. The Fast Track is just applying to that, and that comes in seven days. Yeah, that’s great to hear.

Dave:

Oh, okay.

Leonie:

That’s great to hear that you had such a smooth process.

Dave:

I honestly think that once I put the payment through and everything I think I had certificates via email within a week, which was sent right through to the recruiting manager.

Leonie:

Yeah.

Dave:

And then I think I had them in the post two weeks later, so from the Friday it was probably about two and a half weeks at the most and they were sitting in the mailbox.

Leonie:

Yeah, that’s great. Yeah, good.

Dave:

I just chuckled at the Fast Track. I thought, “Jeez, it couldn’t be faster.” You know, here I am thinking six to eight weeks for you guys to sit down and do the work. I have a cert for trainer and assessor as well, so I know a little bit about the mapping side. I’m sitting here going, “You poor buggers must be smashed trying to sort all this out,” and then I got it in two and a half weeks. I thought, “Okay, obviously not.”

Leonie:

Yeah, that’s good to hear.

Dave:

Very lucky at the time.

Leonie:

Churchill has been doing this for 13 years now, so they’ve got the process down pat and some really good people.

Dave:

Yeah, no, I had no issues at all. Unfortunately the only, and I was open and honest in that Facebook post, I said it was a gamble purely because Churchill had the name. There are a lot of organizations, fly by nighters who do this sort of thing, and then you see them disappear. I was worried about the longevity of you guys being around and in five years time someone going, “Who’s Churchill? Where did they come from?,” but when I looked at your page and saw how long you’ve been around, and the history and that sort of stuff, I had no concerns at all. Initially, I think when I spoke to Mel-

Leonie:

Interesting, so that’s what you feel was the gamble, that possibly in a year or two it might not be worth the paper that it was written on.

Dave:

To be honest, yes.

Leonie:

Yeah, no, that’s interesting. That’s good to know that.

Dave:

I mean, generally, I actually went through a … A friend of mine is a recruiting manager for a large mine and she’s been in HR for 25 years. I sent her your page and said, “I’m looking at doing this. As a recruiting manager, if I walked in with these certificates would you look at them and go, ‘Yeah, some dodgy company basically has filled these out?'” That was my concern.

Leonie:

Okay.

Dave:

There’s so many online companies where I can jump on and do a white card, for example, in western Australia, and have it posted out and have the course completed in two hours to complete a white card. That was my biggest one. I thought am I going to walk in with these certificates that I’ve paid money for and people going, “Oh yeah, mate, it doesn’t have a University of Queensland or it doesn’t have South Australia University on the top of it. We’re not interested in it. It’s just not worth the paper it’s written on,” if that makes sense.

Leonie:

Mm-hmm (affirmative), totally. What did she say to your question?

Dave:

She said no difference. She said, “We’d certainly look at it.”

Leonie:

Oh, okay.

Dave:

She was more than happy. She said, “No, we’d definitely look at that.” She said, “Maybe you’d get an extra question about how the qualifications come about,” granted that the university ones are mapped out in these. She said, “But it makes no difference.” If you’ve got a qualification and they’re sticking their name in there, as long as they’re a registered RTO she said we’d have no issues at all.

Leonie:

Mm-hmm (affirmative), okay.

Dave:

No, that gave me the confidence, but I’m honest with you here. That was the one thing. I thought, “Oh god, I hope I don’t get these certificates and then in two year’s time people go, ‘Who’s Churchill? Where are they? Who wrote this for you?'” Oh yeah, some bloke sent me in a shed and decided to write it out, said, “Here you go, mate. Have four certificates,” so that’s what you kind of worry about.

Leonie:

Yeah, okay. That’s-

Dave:

But then I just did my due diligence and found out, no, that’s not the case.

Leonie:

Mm-hmm (affirmative), so when you say you did your own due diligence, what was it exactly that made you feel comfortable and confident?

Dave:

I looked at the Facebook page and the testimonials on your page, Randall’s information, especially being ex-QPS.

Leonie:

Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Dave:

I’ve had a bit to do with QPS over the years at different times, and friends, and that sort of stuff. That gave me a little bit of confidence, but yeah, and just that you’ve been around a while. That states you’ve been around 11 years or something like that. It’s 12 years or something you’ve got these certificates. I can’t even remember. Twelve years, so I didn’t think it was some guy sitting in his backyard, but I had to do my research, if that makes sense.

Leonie:

Yeah, that’s great, and as you should. Yeah, that’s good to know that we were able to allay your fears.

Dave:

Yeah, that was my biggest one. I mean, having the certificates is good, but I know if anyone … I mean, in all honesty, I can jump online now and become a celebrant for America, just do it online. I mean, there’s that many people that go, “Oh yeah, just do the celebrant [inaudible 00:23:48]. You’re a qualified celebrant now in the USA,” so that’s what I was worried about, that I was just going to get these qualifications and someone would go, “Yeah, mate, no thanks.” You know, Billy Bob’s training organization means nothing to us. It doesn’t have the uni on the top, or take Queensland, or take New South Wales, or something attached to it. It’s just a name of a company, so …

Leonie:

Yeah, I mean, it’s definitely important. It’s like the continuation of if you’ve got experience that’s one thing, but if you don’t have it formalized in qualifications it means nothing. Then by the same token, if the qualification is not with a reputable organization, then once again at the end of the day it sort of means nothing, so it’s definitely important to have that confidence and do your due diligence.

Dave:

Exactly right. I mean, as an example, I needed a construction industry white card for a position I was applying for about four or five years ago, just before this role, and I went online and I found a company that would do it within two hours. They posted out and I’ve got a construction white card from Western Australia, which was valid nationally, in two hours.

Leonie:

Wow.

Dave:

I just sat down and did an online examination with them, I got it, and that was all I needed to work. I mean, I’ve never lived in Western Australia in my life, yet I’ve got a Western Australia construction card. That was my concern, if that makes sense.

Leonie:

Yeah, it does.

Dave:

That you guys are just going to go and map it and say, “Here you go, mate. Here’s your certificate,” and then two years later everyone is going, “Who are these guys?,” and they’re worth nothing.

Leonie:

Mm-hmm (affirmative), yeah, and so you mentioned you’ve referred some other people to Churchill, so friends and colleagues have also-

Dave:

I told them about you guys. Whether they’ve taken it up or not, I don’t know.

Leonie:

Okay.

Dave:

I haven’t had the referrals come through, to be honest. Some of the guys I told are probably a bit lazy and haven’t taken it up, but I’ve told quite a few people about the process.

Leonie:

Okay, great, so future career prospects for you is being a celebrant?

Dave:

No, gosh no. Gosh, no. I’d swear too much. No, no, no. I’m going to stay where I am. I mean, on operations side.

Leonie:

Stick to what you know?

Dave:

Yeah, operations and petroleum. I mean, that’s close to 20 years now I’ve been playing in petroleum for most of it, in some form or another. I’ve been offered other roles with petroleum companies, which I’ve rejected, and I think-

Leonie:

It’s nice to be in that position, isn’t it?

Dave:

Yeah, yeah. I mean, getting headhunted is always a good thing. Like anything, the industries can be small. It’s no different to the training industry, you know? It is small and you know of people that work for different companies and go, “Oh, if he ever looked at leaving, I bet you the [inaudible 00:26:37] give him a call,” so petroleum is no different, fuels and that sort of stuff. They contact everywhere and quite often I get calls and someone says, “I understand you’re in this role. Would you be interested in coming across?,” so yeah, in the last couple of years I’ve rejected two roles that I’ve been offered, so it’s always good to have that. I think some of the certificates helped with that.

Leonie:

Mm-hmm (affirmative), that’s awesome. Dave, thank you so much for your time.

Dave:

That’s all right.

Leonie:

I will go away and write up a draft of our conversation in this case study and I’ll send it to you. You can tell me if you want anything changed, or added, or taken away, and then I’ll put it up on our website once you’re happy with this.

Dave:

Yeah.

Leonie:

If you’re up for it, if you had a photo of yourself that I could run with the case study, that would be great.

Dave:

Okay.

Leonie:

It could just be a professional headshot, or a shot of you on the job, or just whatever you feel comfortable with would be great.

Dave:

Okay, I’ll see what I can do. I’ll try and get something for you shortly.

Leonie:

Fantastic. All right, Dave, I’ll be in touch in a week or so, once I’ve written a draft.

Dave:

Yeah, thank you. No worries. I’ll have to have a look at it because unfortunately defense is a security side, as you’re probably well aware.

Leonie:

Yeah, totally get it. I mean, I’ll try and be as diplomatic as I can and sort of not name names or anything.

Dave:

Yes.

Leonie:

But, yeah, by the same token, if there’s anything that you’re just not comfortable with then that’s totally fine. I’ll make any changes that you would like.

Dave:

Beautiful, will do. I’ll see if I can find you some info on Broadspectrum to, to give you an idea of what we do.

Leonie:

Yeah, that would be great too.

Dave:

All right, no worries.

Leonie:

Excellent. You enjoy the rest of your day, Dave.

Dave:

Thank you.

Leonie:

Okay, bye.

Dave:

Bye.

 

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