As we prepare to close another issue of this magazine, it’s time to wish fair winds and following seas to another ADM team member, as Advertising and Features Manager David Jones calls time after more than 14 years in the role.
David is well known to many ADM readers and as he prepares to hand over the reins, he took time to reflect on a long and interesting career of engagement with Defence and defence industry.
ADM: How did you end up at ADM?
DJ: My wife and I had been living in Perth for several years, initially continuing my previous work in the construction sector, where I'd been a consultant for over 20 years. In WA it doesn't take long to become exposed to the resources sector and so I took up an opportunity to work for a publishing house in advertising sales, with a focus on civil construction and contracting.
The problem in Perth is that for half the year it's three hours behind most of the decision-making base so, for six months of the year most of your contacts would be heading to lunch as you were coming to work. By starting at 0630-ish, it meant most of the day was over by 1500, so I added an extra magazine sales role to the day's work. This publication was part of Sensis, and the Telstra business network.
After we moved back to Brisbane to be closer to family, I worked with The Trading Post, also a part of Sensis, with the idea that when we found what I really wanted to do, we'd buy a home locally. Then in 2007 my wife saw this ‘little ad’ in the paper and I decided this one was for me.
ADM: What was the learning curve like, dealing with a somewhat unique defence industry?
DJ: In one word: vertical. My predecessor Mike Kerr had come on board very early in ADM’s history and was its sales manager for over thirteen years. I was to be Mike's chosen successor and thankfully he just overflowed with knowledge and, importantly, was willing to share it. So, to date, ADM has only had two sales managers in its history. This gives great stability, and as Mike freely gave to me, so I am freely giving to Michael, my successor.
ADM: What excites you about the industry?
DJ: Everything. Growing up as a Rover Scout, one learns very quickly to love giving service to others, something that in later life has flowed naturally into my role as a priest. In the defence sector I was surrounded by people with the same values, but on steroids! With energy and enthusiasm, knowledge and determination and all with the basic tenet of love of service for our nation and a desire to see our finest people using the very best kit possible.
ADM: How has the industry changed over the years?
DJ: It's just grown exponentially. My first trade show was Avalon 2007 and our editor at the time walked me around the halls and introduced me to as many industry folk as he could. The trade shows are a great reflection of how the industry has grown and with that, our political leadership has developed a deeper understanding that the ‘little guy’ with a 3 x 3 shell stand is still an exceptional innovator just looking for someone to notice him. And they do!
ADM: What have been the highlights of your career at ADM?
DJ: Achieving sales targets is, well, expected. In any company, it's why you're in the role. I have always derived sheer joy from helping an SME at exactly the right moment, and then seeing this small company grow into a prime in its own right. That just cannot be measured. I think of companies local to me like EM Solutions, NIOA, TAE, L3Micreo ... there are so many and it's such a privilege to share their journey.
ADM: What advice would you give to people starting out their career in the role, particularly working in the defence environment?
DJ: No matter whether it's a warship or a second-hand car, it's still sales. Someone has something to sell and someone has a need to buy it. So, as a ‘connector of dots’, their connecting must be done with the utmost integrity, to the point of walking away from an order for advertising if it's not in the client's best interests.
ADM: Is there anything you wish you had done differently?
DJ: Yes. Everyone knows Dave is on deck twenty out of any twenty-four hours, but I just wish everyone would agree on the same twenty! So, yes, I'd add some extra hours - so I could have more fun.
ADM: What do you plan to do in retirement?
DJ: Retirement? C'mon. Younger folk can step in to ensure the longer-term growth of ADM Group. For me, my bishop wants to consecrate me as his successor, so we wait for COVID to allow travel. But I'll still be around to annoy most of you, while also looking for companies that could benefit from a silver-haired dot connector.