How physical adversity helped an Army captain find a new career

Rocky landscape

It took a devastating diagnosis for Timmothy Green, a previous Army Captain to master change and find a new purpose. He explains how the MBA helped him prepare for a new role as a consultant – and one which also allows him to spend more time with his wife-to-be.

I’d always wanted to be a pilot, but when I went for a trial at the age of 17, I failed the screening test. Then a recruiter suggested I should go into the army instead. My great-grandfather, who I was close to as a child, had fought in the artillery section in World War II, so the personal connection made it the perfect choice for me.

I joined the Australian Defence Force (ADF) Academy in 2009 as a student doing a Bachelor of Business degree. After graduation, I was a Troop Leader in the Cavalry, commanding Australian light armoured vehicles.

I thrived in the army! I embraced the structure, schedule and physical fitness – everything had a plan. CrossFit also became a passion of mine during this time, and it wasn’t unusual for me to train multiple times a day. I was later named Officer of the Year in 2015 and promoted to Captain.

In 2017, I was deployed to Egypt as part of the multinational peacekeeping force in Sinai – the desert area that adjoins Israel. During this commission, I was awarded the Chief of Staff Award for Excellence for my work there. The army really was my natural home.

However, after ten years of service, I received some harrowing news. I was diagnosed with Rapid Spinal Degeneration. My days of heavy physical fitness and CrossFit were over, and I was sitting at a cross road with what to do in my life.

Tim in the Australian Defence Force (ADF) Academy

While deployed in the Sinai desert I started remotely studying The University of Queensland (UQ) MBA program, as I was thirsty for a new mental challenge, but little did I know my life was about to take a change completely. I realised to master the change ahead I needed a purpose. It was time to step out of my comfort zone.

Tim working out at the gym
Tim working out at the gym
Tim working out at the gym

After returning to Australia and starting the MBA Capstone industry placement course, I had a realisation: I loved consulting, it was exactly what I wanted to do. I relished talking to CEOs about how to progress their companies, making them more profitable or doing more for the community.

When I sat down with the MBA careers consultant, he laughed at my LinkedIn profile as I only had 75 connections. He sent me off to make new contacts. I came across an ex-Air Force Officer who was working at a big four firm, so I messaged her and asked to meet for coffee. It was the first time I’d tried my networking skills, but it paid off. My new contact took my CV back to her firm and also introduced me to a friend of hers at EY, which resulted in my current job.

My advice to others leaving the ADF would be to plan early, as you need to prepare financially and emotionally for what will be a life-altering change, and to network. I’m a self-professed introvert, but networking got me a job I now love. My 22 online applications got me nowhere.

Remember also, that the Defence provides you with really great portable skills such as leadership and management, but it might not be enough for people to hire you. You may need other skills or qualifications.

The UQ MBA was my original exit strategy, but it also provided a pathway into a new life. I realised that I had no commercial experience, but the MBA certainly rounded out my resume. It made it more appealing for an employer to take on a former ten-year Army officer and helped me to land my first consultancy job.

On a personal front, I get to spend more time now with my fiancé, which is really important as we look to start a family in the future. I also took up cycling as my new physical passion, based on the recommendation of my doctor. One day soon I’ll participate in my first triathlon.

Sometimes change happens by chance, or sometimes it happens by choice.

Learn how a UQ MBA can transform your career by requesting a call back from our MBA Team.