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How award winner used life lessons for academic success

written by Malavika Santhebennur | June 23, 2022

Lawyer’s Weekly 30 Under 30 Awards 2022

As Australian Aviation prepares to host its inaugural Australian Aviation Awards later this year, we spoke to BAE Systems Australia’s Brett Smith about how scoring some of the highest marks in his diploma program led to him being crowned Graduate of the Year last year at the Australian Defence Industry Awards (hosted by our sister brand Defence Connect).

The Australian Aviation Awards (sponsored by principal partner the University of New South Wales) will take place on Thursday 1 September 2022.

The awards program includes 24 individual and company categories (including Defence Business Support of the Year) celebrating the hard work, dedication, and resilience of the aviation industry during a turbulent and challenging few years during the coronavirus pandemic.

Submissions are peer-reviewed by a panel of trusted and well-respected judges.

Nominations and submissions will close on Thursday 30 June 2022.


Giving it everything you’ve got

For Smith — who is a digital detail designer in the Hunter Class Frigate Program, Layouts at BAE Systems Australia — it was an eventful couple of years leading up to the 2021 Australian Defence Industry awards ceremony as he juggled his career with a diploma.

As part of the Hunter Class Frigate Program, Smith’s role involves digitally designing Australia’s future naval assets and the platform and auxiliary structures for the Royal Australian Navy.

Alongside this, he undertook a diploma of digital technologies at Flinders University between 2020 and 2021, where he not only achieved some of the highest marks in his class, but completed his course with a high distinction and a grade point average of seven.

It came as no surprise that he capped off 2021 by picking up the Graduate of the Year trophy at the 2021 Australian Defence Industry Awards.

He was also a finalist in the prestigious Excellence Award category.

Smith attributed his victory to being a member of Project Noah (which is a part of the BAE Systems, ASC Shipbuilding, and Flinders University development program), where he gained critical knowledge in the engagement and enhancement of disruptive technologies in the future of Australian shipbuilding construction and design. He gained an upper hand by applying the practical lessons he had learned during his 10 years in the defence industry to his academic pursuits.

“I continued my academic journey in the same way that I conducted myself in the workplace: by giving it everything I had and learning as much as I possibly could,” he said.

“I tried to apply my life experience to the academic environment, which was a huge benefit, and the results were quite positive. I was extremely happy with the final result.”

Smith told Australian Aviation that he was humbled by his victory at the “esteemed” awards program, and that he always aspired to meet an incredibly high academic standard in his diploma course.

“It was a recognition of my efforts in the defence industry over the years, and to be respected by my peers and leaders in the industry is quite an honour,” he said.

Don’t sell yourself short

As such, he urged individuals in the Australian aviation industry to submit themselves for the 2022 Australian Aviation Awards and be rewarded for their efforts and achievements by their colleagues.

“I strongly believe that recognition on an individual level is critical, particularly for those people who may feel they are contributing to the industry with everything they’ve got,” Smith asserted.

“Moreover, recognition of their efforts from peers and leaders in the same industry is really important. It allows people from other industries to really see what’s going on in our industry without any rose-coloured glasses.”

He noted that entrants “may very well be pleasantly surprised” by the outcome on the awards night, and as such, pushed them to capitalise on this opportunity.

“The awards night is quite incredible so give it a shot. You have nothing to lose, and you may be underrating your capabilities,” he said.

For those entering the Australian Aviation Awards this year, Smith recommended that they provide a clear picture of their role and responsibilities within their organisation or institution and how they are benefiting the industry.

“For example, my submission was based around my research and experience in the defence industry over the last 10 years,” he said.

“I’m glad that I impressed the judges enough to be selected as a winner.”

The Australian Aviation Awards program includes a range of individual and group awards for airlines, airports, support businesses, pilots, engineers, rotary businesses, industry associations, and female aviation leaders.

To enter the awards, visit the website below to register, download the category criteria, follow the criteria and submit an entry. Finally, simply save and confirm your submission.

Submissions will close on Thursday, 30 June 2022, with the gala event set to take place in-person on Thursday 1 September 2022 at 7pm at The Star in Sydney.

It will provide professionals with the opportunity to network with their peers and showcase their successes to the industry.

Click here to submit an entry or nominate a worthy colleague for a chance to take centre stage and walk home with a trophy.

For more information about the awards program, including categories and judging process, click here.

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