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Top skills brought back to Navy

A former Navy Communications specialist who left to co-found an IT software start-up is now bringing his computer skills back as a Communications and Information Warfare officer.

03 April, 2024

Lieutenant Jayden Bartram, 32, originally from Christchurch, left Riccarton High School early to become a chef, then joined the Navy as a Communications Operator.

His initial stint in the Navy (2012-2016) included conducting anti-piracy patrols in the Gulf of Aden and Arabian Sea with HMNZS Te Mana and Exercise Southern Katipo on board HMNZS Manawanui.

He reached Leading Hand rank and felt it was time to leave and gain further experience in the private sector. Staying on in the Navy Reserve Forces, he returned to Christchurch and obtained diplomas in Computer Networking, Business and a Certificate in Science and Technology. Following a stint as a Senior Enterprise Network Engineer and Head of Product and Software Engineering he co-founding software business Couchdrop Limited.

The business, specialising in secure electronic data transfer, achieved an international profile with most of its business conducted in North America and Europe. LT Bartram co-led the business for over five years as Chief Executive and then transitioned to Chief Operating Officer prior to departing the business, which employs 15 people internationally.

“The company is still going strong”, he says.

“But I wanted more purpose for a career. Being a reservist kept the door open, but coming back to the Navy full-time as a Leading Hand wasn’t where I saw I could apply my skillset and make a positive impact. I wanted to use my experience, thinking and skills in a different capacity.”

He undertook the new Naval Reserve Common Training programme part time over 18 months, commissioning from the ranks in April 2023.

“The positive aspect was making good connections. In reserves, everyone has other careers and it’s about building your networks.”

He transitioned out of his business, rejoining the Navy full-time in October as a General List Operations Support Communication and Information Warfare.

Officers in this trade are responsible for leading the development in support of military effects from communication and information warfare-related capabilities throughout the full spectrum of conflict.

They oversee all Communications and Information Warfare-related capabilities so that they can be integrated, synchronised and delivered to meet mission objectives.

He’s now on an Information Warfare Officer course in Australia and working on a Bachelor of Arts through Massey University, majoring in Security Studies.

“I don’t think I could have timed this any better,” he says.

“I’m bringing my IT experience, communications background and leadership skills from running a company. I’ve come from a field where you need to understand how businesses and people use data, and how marketing influences people and decision-makers. Being able to apply my experience and skillsets into a technological area is very rewarding.”

“What comes next? That’s a great question. This is a whole new world. I like being part of something new and growing it. It just shows how important it is for you to maintain your connections when you leave. I’m excited to be back in and see where my career goes.”