• A group of senior students from Hunter River High recently visited Bohemia Interactive Simulations.
Kate O’Mara/RDA Hunter
    A group of senior students from Hunter River High recently visited Bohemia Interactive Simulations. Kate O’Mara/RDA Hunter

Turning a love for ‘gaming’ into a job is just a pipedream for many young people with a passion for IT, but not for Port Stephens based, global software company Bohemia Interactive Simulations (BISim). Gaming technology is its lifeblood: it underpins its differentiation and has led to its global success.

From unassuming beginnings re-purposing gaming software in Anna Bay near Newcastle, BISim is now at the forefront of developing simulation training solutions for defence and civilian organisations globally.

Bohemia Interactive Simulations’ technology Virtual BattleSpace (VBS) has become the de-facto industry standard for virtual simulation and has been selected by a number of armed forces, most notably the ADF, US Army and US Marine Corps, and the UK Ministry of Defence as their official virtual simulation platform. VBS is also widely used by over 80 companies.

“We work with the world’s militaries to develop and deliver tailored, cutting-edge simulation products and technology for tactical training, scenario experimentation and mission rehearsal. It’s an exciting space to work in,” Group General Counsel of BISim Group & Managing Director of Bohemia Interactive Australia, Ryan Stephenson, said.

“Each military organisation has a different and individual need so to continue to tailor solutions, be responsive to our customers’ needs and stay ahead of the curve with ongoing R&D, we’re looking for people with the right mix of skills and passion.

“Our Australian presence, which is headquartered here in Williamtown, isn’t large but we’re innovative and combine our range of skills to ensure our customers are getting the interactive simulation product they need but as a tailored, tested, complete solution.”

Access to the ‘right’ people is key for BISim who are always looking for new ways to disrupt its global markets as well as its own software products.

“People are our biggest asset. We can’t deliver what our customers need without people who have the skills to understand their requirements, engineer software to make it possible and maintain relationships to keep them happy,” Ryan said.

BISim has been working with RDA Hunter and its STEM Workforce Initiative since 2017 to help build a larger local talent pool.

“RDA Hunter works with companies like Bohemia Interactive Simulations to help promote the career opportunities that are right here on the doorstep of Hunter students,” RDA Hunter’s Director of Regional Development Trevor John said.

The ME Program is RDA Hunter’s most mature workforce development program and anchors the organisation’s workforce development initiatives. Funded by Defence, it commenced in 2009 to help build a defence industry workforce.

“Our programs aim to give students a mix of STEM and work-readiness skills like communication and team-work to help prepare them for industry jobs,” John continued.

Industry experiences are a popular component of the ME Program and I was lucky enough to join a group of senior students from ME partner school Hunter River High (HRH) when they visited Bohemia Interactive Simulations recently.

HRH’s year 11 student Isabella told me she’s always loved IT and really wants to work with computers as a career but wasn’t sure what the jobs were or how to get them.

“I knew that there must be businesses in Newcastle that specialised in this space, so my Dad and I googled and found Bohemia Interactive. It’s exactly the type of business I’d love to work in and I thought some of my friends would too, so I asked my teachers whether we could visit – and they made it happen,” Isabella said.

Hosted by Lennon Willoughby, BISim’s Senior Support Specialist - APAC Lead and Nick Oliveri, Quality Assurance Analyst, nine HRH students were given a run-down of the business. They also took turns on the F-18 procedural training and gunnery training simulators, giving them a hands-on look at how gaming technology is used in military applications.

Importantly, Lennon and Nick also explained to the students that there were many different pathways to jobs in this industry.

The BISim industry experience is exactly what Isabella had hoped for.

“The simulators were great, and it was so interesting to hear directly from Lennon and Nick. They’re young and have amazing jobs. It reinforces that I’m on the right pathway to a great job here in Newcastle.

“It’s a valuable experience for us to see companies like Bohemia Interactive up-close. It’s definitely inspired me to keep working hard and I’m excited for the future.”

More on Bohemia Interactive Simulations will be available in the August issue of ADM.

Note: Kate O’Mara is a freelance project director and strategic communications specialist with a background in regional development.

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