Lisa Weston: alumni profile
What has been your path since graduating from CCGS in 1997?
On completion of school I commenced a degree at Sydney University. Early in my first year I also signed up for Army Reserve officer training with Sydney University Regiment (I have always told people the start of my Army journey was school Outward Bound camps then Army Cadets at Erina!). Finding I was enjoying part time Army service in my second year of University I put study on hold and applied for full time officer training at the Royal Miliary College - Duntroon.
Alas, I was soon on my way to Canberra with an ironing board under my arm!
Post-graduation, I have served as an officer in the Australian Army across Australia and the world. Academically, I have studied both part and full time in my career completing a Bachelor of Management and three Master programs in Business, Intelligence and Military Studies.
What has led you to the position you hold today as Army Officer?
I am currently Australia’s Defence Attache to Northern Europe, working from the Australian Embassy in Stockholm. My Army rank is Colonel.
No Army career is the same! Like any career, the harder you work the luckier you get (mixed in with a bit of good fortune). I have been grateful to have had opportunities to be selected for promotions and other positions over the previous 20+ years that have led me to be promoted to Colonel and the privilege of holding this current role.
Tell us a bit more about the work you do in Defence Australia?
My background as an Army officer is Intelligence but throughout my career I have also filled what we would called ‘generalist’ positions not linked to a specific area (such as my current role). Leadership is a consistent, not just leading those junior to you but leading across and upwards.
In my current role I am a Defence Diplomat responsible on behalf of the Australian Department of Defence for our military relationships with Northern European countries. I am accredited to Sweden, Norway and Denmark and will commence coverage of Finland later in 2023.
What has been the most challenging time for you in your working life so far?
The most challenging times are the extended periods away from home and the natural tension that comes from being the best professional I can coupled with being an active and engaged parent. I travel regularly but the most recent extended absence was my 6-month deployment to Kabul, Afghanistan in 2019.
Otherwise, as a military officer changing roles every 1-3 years you regularly find yourself working hard to get across new roles quickly. An example that always comes to mind is providing our Chief of Defence Force an analysis on Afghanistan in 2018 when I was new to looking at this part of the world!
What has been the most rewarding moment for you in your working life so far?
The people and the camaraderie that comes with service life. Any time I have worked with great people to produce an outcome under difficult circumstances is entirely rewarding.
What trait has been most vital in helping you succeed?
There is no single trait and each occupation of course rewards different strengths. Personal characteristics such as work ethic, resilience and determination are essential. Specifically in my occupation, being a capable communicator, strategic thinker coupled with an ability to mentor and lead people has held me in good stead.
Outside of the Defence Force, what are you passionate about?
I am passionate about family, friends and am community minded. In the past I have completed volunteer work and this is something I would like to get back to when I eventually reduce the time I work with Army.
Where do you see the next 10 years taking you?
I hope to carve out more balance for myself and family. I plan to stay serving and typical of my work, I don’t know what role after this one yet but in the ADF we always joke that all roads lead to Canberra.
What CCGS experience or achievement most prepared you for where you are today?
The Outward Bound camps certainly started me on the path of considering Army cadets, Army Reserve then full time service. I love the Australian bush and enjoy being outdoors!
What advice would you give to your high school self?
Don’t be too shy!
What advice would you give to students wanting to join the Defence Force?
There are many diverse roles in the ADF! Whether you want to drive a tank, fly a fighter jet, study chemical engineering or be a cyber warrior. The sense of purpose that comes from serving your nation is difficult to replicate in other professions. A well paid, stable but exciting profession that is worth exploring.
Any final words?
I was very lucky to have the privilege to attend CCGS, where the teachers take great interest in the care and wellbeing of students.