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Combat Engineer enjoys flexible working

Reserve Forces engineer has the home life, the job and the armed forces, not all in the same location.

25 September, 2023

Corporal Jon Beattie, who created tech company Octana with his partner, enjoys the change of lifestyle Queenstown offers while continuing his NZ Army Reserve Force role as a Combat Engineer.

“I’ve been part of 3 Troop in Auckland for over thirteen years now so really am part of the team.  I’ve made the commitment to stay with the unit and enjoy training with the Troop,” says Corporal Beattie.

“It helps that since the COVID-19 pandemic, elements of training are held online enabling remote learning.  With people in the Troop spread as far as Kerikeri to Hamilton, and now stretching to Queenstown, this has made the transition easier than had there not been the opportunity to train remotely,” he says.

Corporal Beattie has worked in the digital industry, owning and selling various businesses over the years and finds having his part-time life in uniform a welcome break from the intensive life of digital.

“When I joined the Reserve Forces I had been working in my digital business for ten years, and in hindsight, recruit training was essential.   Work had been intense and having the break was great.  There’s not a lot of crossover from IT to Combat Engineer but I wanted an experience outside of digital.

“There’s definitely the challenge of walking out of the office, putting on the uniform and finding yourself in the field on the same day.  And I am conscious of not transferring my Army life into my civilian work life and vice versa.  There’s a soldier mode and a business mode for me,” he laughs.  “You don’t want to mix those two worlds.”

He’s also found, due to the nature of the challenges frequently faced in Army training, he’s constantly resetting his abilities of what he’s capable of.

“Until you join the Army you don’t realise you’re only operating at thirty percent of your actual capacity.”

The level of discipline and training coupled with the organisational abilities of those serving in both the ResF and Regular Forces (RF) is high, and he says he would happily employ people who are serving or have served, due to their positive work habits.

Recently he attended Exercise Arras, held at Waiouru Military Training Area, with ResF Engineers from across New Zealand.  Forming a general support Troop and integrating into the RF Task Unit Holdfast, as part of the 2nd Engineer Regiment (2ER) field exercise was rewarding and gave the Troop time to focus on refining their skills and building on team work. 

“It was an opportunity to take part in a longer exercise and has added a lot of extra value to our training,” he said.

Combat Engineers provide mobility and counter-mobility support to manoeuvre elements. Specific tasks include the creation or removal of obstacles through the use of explosives, the use of specialist search equipment to conduct military search operations, the employment of tactical bridging assets including the Medium Girder Bridge (MGB), and the operation of tactical watercraft by day or night to counter water obstacles.

Find out more about our Army Reserves here