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Saab Australia

  • 1,000 - 50,000 employees

Charlie Rocklyn

The best thing about my job is working on important projects that make a difference to other people’s lives.

What's your job about?

Saab Australia develops software and products across various industries. I work in the maritime division where we build the software that most of the Australian naval fleets use to run the ships. My job has a lot of range, but over the scope of a project, I will program new bits of software, fix bugs, test the software by using it and by writing tests, document the software and review other team members work. During my short career I’ve been really lucky to have multiple opportunities to travel for work. I’ve really enjoyed demonstrating our products to interstate customers and living in the USA while learning and gaining on-the-job experience. I like coming to work because I work with friendly people and we all work together to create quality software products that we can be proud of.

What's your background?

I am an only child and I grew up in Adelaide. I went to an all-girls Catholic high school, and although I studied a number of maths and science subjects, I also really enjoyed English and creative subjects like drama and art. I didn’t know what I wanted to do at university but a lot of my classmates chose some kind of engineering or science degree, so I did too. I started studying a bachelor of engineering (electrical and electronic) straight after high school but I transferred degrees twice while studying. In my final year of university I took six months off to dance in Disneyland and then travel America, which begun my love of exploring foreign places. I won a scholarship with Saab Australia and did three months of work experience. I didn’t really enjoy it and I questioned if I had studied the wrong degree! However, I was offered a position on the graduate program with the promise that I wouldn’t be doing the same work I did on work experience, so I accepted. The graduate program allowed me to experience different areas of the business which have very different work styles and projects. It was great to be able to do real work and contribute to real projects while learning more about what I enjoy doing.

Could someone with a different background do your job?

Yes, with conditions. Anyone with some programming skills can do my job, however, you do learn a lot about problem-solving and programming algorithms from a university engineering or computer science degree. The important personal skills to have are perseverance, logical thinking, creative thinking and communication. I think communication is often overlooked, but it’s important to be able to convince others that your solution to a problem is a good solution.

What's the coolest thing about your job?

The best thing about my job is working on important projects that make a difference to other people’s lives. The software that I write helps to defend our country and our service people out in the field. While I hope that our defence products are never really needed, it’s so important to have good quality software to support our forces. It’s also just as rewarding working on non-defence projects as our software is still really important to the customer. Building something that the customer is happy with makes me really proud.

What are the limitations of your job?

Working in the software you have to accept that you will never know everything. There are just so many aspects that one person could never learn everything about all the programming languages, networking, development tools, software processes, and the list goes on. Just think about how many things we use in our everyday lives that run some kind of software, and they are all quite different eg. phones, microwaves, computers, modern cars etc. You have to be ok with saying “I don’t know the answer, but I’ll work it out”.

3 pieces of advice for yourself when you were a student...

  • Get involved with groups and clubs, even if it’s not related to your degree. You’ll be building a network of peers and maybe even some lifelong friends.
  • Don’t write anything off as “I’ll never use that in real life”. I always thought maths was useless and I didn’t think my retail job experience would be useful after I graduated university but both have been really valuable, and I wish I paid more attention during maths!
  • Don’t be afraid to try things. You’re still a student so this is the time to make mistakes and work out what you like and don’t like. Don’t close those doors before you’ve tried what’s behind them.