Ben Spoor is a Consultant in the Nous Sydney office, and also an Army Reservist. Last summer, as bushfires raged across Australia, Ben was deployed on Operation Bushfire Assist. We spoke to him about how to get hundreds of soldiers communicating during a crisis, how support rebuilding a broken fence brought a man to tears, and how Nous has helped him support his community.
What was your role in Operation Bushfire Assist?
As a Signals Corps Officer, my role was to plan, develop and execute the communications strategy for a Task Group of 500 soldiers posted all over NSW and ACT assisting with Operation Bushfire Assist. Reporting to the Commander, I ensured all the soldiers could talk to each other using the Army’s advanced radio and satellite communications equipment. After developing the communications strategy, I oversaw its implementation, commanding 40 Signal soldiers to physically employ the equipment to support the soldiers on the ground.
What inspired you to join the Army Reserve?
My father was an Air Force pilot before I was born so I inherited an interest in the military through him. From a young age, I admired Australians who put their safety at risk in the service of their country. It inspired me to take Army cadets through school and I loved the structure, discipline, teamwork and sense of achievement it promoted. The Army Reserve presented the perfect opportunity and flexibility to undertake part-time Officer training around my university studies and co-curricular commitments. After three years of training concurrent to university studies, I commissioned as a Lieutenant and have been a Signals Corps Officer since.
Can you recall many special moments from your time on the Operation?
One day, in the Blue Mountains, I was with some soldiers deployed to help repair fences at a property that had been completely devastated by the fires. The owner of the property came to see the soldiers and broke down in tears. He said our presence brought him joy and hope after he lost his home and property. Mending fences seemed like such an insignificant contribution given the loss the bloke had experienced, but it reinforced the power of simply lending a helping hand when people have been through trauma. It was an emotional experience I will not forget.
How did Nous support your deployment on Operation Bushfire Assist?
For the bushfire emergency, the Governor General invoked a call-out provision in the Defence Act, which meant I had to deploy at very short notice. This did not leave much warning for Nous, but Nous was extremely supportive and helped rearrange my project commitments so I could deploy and focus on the operation without impacting clients. Throughout the deployment, my wonderful colleagues would regularly let me know they were thinking of me and appreciated what I was doing. Nous’ willingness to rearrange my work and support me while I was gone allowed me to devote my full attention and energy to the operation. I really appreciated it.
How does the flexibility at Nous support your role within the ADF?
Nous has a flexible working policy, which allows me to keep my Army Reserve commitments. This means that after late Tuesday night training, I can work from home on Wednesday morning. Project managers at Nous are always happy for me to take leave for training. Nous’ flexibility and support of my regular ADF service represents both their encouragement for employees to bring their whole selves to work and their desire to contribute to a positive impact on the community. It is one of the many reasons this is such a special place to work.