A Flying Start

Leaving the heat and technicolour of India’s Mumbai for Tasmania’s green and cooler climes, Sandesh started his new life in Australia working in the textile industry. 

While attending an Air Show five years later, Sandesh’s attention post aerial acrobatics was drawn to the RAAF information booth. Intrigued by potential new career options he approached the recruiters and not long after began a career with the Australian Defence Force (ADF) as an aircraft structural Technician on the AP 3C Orion and C27J Spartan. 

Sandesh enjoyed the growth and variety his job offered and though it required relocating every few years, with no wife or children at the time he was happy to go where the Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) needed him. 

However, after being settled in Queensland at RAAF Base Amberley for two-and-a-half years and engaged to be married, Sandesh was reluctant to move again. When a posting to Newcastle came in August last year, he decided it was time to consider a future outside the ADF. 

With his wedding planned for December 2021, Sandesh gave himself three months to secure employment after discharging from the RAAF – while at the same time helping his wife settle into her new life and find work as a food technologist. 

Sandesh said he didn’t know how long it would take to secure a civilian job, however, with the help of Soldier On’s employment team, he acquired a position with Boeing Australia as an aircraft structure technician – a similar role he’d held in the RAAF. 

“Just before being posted out, I went to a Soldier On Pathway Network evening and spoke to Yvonne who helped me a lot with the transition process. This really opened my mind and increased my comfort level about succeeding on a professional and personal level outside the military. 

“Yvonne started from scratch – building my resume and guiding me through the process. After that, things moved very quickly and she put me in touch with Boeing Australia,” Sandesh said. 

“I had thought there wasn’t much I could do outside of Defence, but Soldier On helped me realise there were companies keen for my skills and experience,” he added. 

“Because of my work supporting Australian aircraft in-country, I was able to transition into Boeing’s structures team seamlessly, and while it is different; I could also continue servicing the defence industry. 

“Our commitment to the Soldier On Platinum Pledge helps us identify and attract talent across the aerospace business, whether from advanced manufacturing on commercial aircraft or research and development to aircraft maintenance and cyber security,” said Amy List, Director of Sustainment Operations, Boeing Defence Australia and the Executive Sponsor of the Boeing Veterans Working Group. 

“Our employees get just as much out of our involvement in the mentorship program as the veterans they’re supporting who are transitioning to civilian life. It’s a mutually fulfilling experience.” 

According to Sandesh, the skills veterans acquire during their time in the military are essential for any employer. He says communication and leadership qualities were significant contributors to his successful Boeing Australia application. 

“There are more promotional opportunities for me at Boeing, which offers a good platform to grow,” he said. 

“Boeing Australia like the skills I bring with me to the position, such as punctuality and the quality of work I offer. To find a stable and well-paying job during a pandemic is very difficult, and Boeing offered me both. They look after veterans very well,” he added 

“I’ve heard people say that the same level of opportunities aren’t offered outside the military, that I would have to have a pay cut and would go down rather than up. For a person like me who has no complaints about learning and working hard, finding a job with Boeing Australia was a great fit.” 

Sandesh said Boeing Australia were accommodating with his start date and allowed him time off to travel to India to get married, return home to Queensland and settle into his new life post-military. 

“Boeing were supportive of my wedding and happy for me to start in January this year. The first three months have been good and I feel very lucky to have found a job that I enjoy and is very similar to what I did with the RAAF.” 

“I was worried initially about going from Defence to a civilian role which can be difficult and take a long time. Things didn’t really change that much though because I’m still on a military base looking after aircraft – the main difference is my uniform!” he said. 

Senior Pathways Officer, Yvonne Dolman said working with transitioning members, veterans and veteran families is a unique opportunity. 

“I met Sandesh “Sonny” at our Pathways Networking Event. These evenings give transitioning defence personnel opportunities to meet employers in a relaxed but professional environment. 

“It’s a pleasure to collaborate with our pledge partners/Employers and introduce what opportunities are available to transitioning members. It’s not an easy decision to leave Defence, and we utilise our resources, knowledge, and experience to assist with their next career direction. It was a pleasure to meet, work with and support Sonny through this process, and I wish him all the best for the future,” she added. 


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