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Saab Australia

  • 1,000 - 50,000 employees

Konrad Groeneveld

Currently, I build software interfaces for equipment that will be mounted on the Royal Australian Navy’s new Offshore Patrol Vessels.

What’s your job about?

Saab Australia is primarily a defence company. However, recently, the civil side of the business has rapidly expanded. Currently, I build software interfaces for equipment that will be mounted on the Royal Australian Navy’s new Offshore Patrol Vessels.

I’m working on the interface of this equipment in tandem with another member of our team of six. My work is focusing more on what is visible to the users, and our integration teams. This includes working on the user interface for the equipment, providing a protocol dissector for our integrators allowing them to read equipment-specific network traffic, communication between the equipment and other parts of our software system, and creating documentation and tests relating to the equipment’s functionality.

Soon I’ll be moving to the civil side of the business, where I’ll be working on security system solutions.

What’s your background?

I was born and educated at public schools in a small country town until year 11. Before starting year 11, my parents forced me (I wasn’t thrilled with the decision) to attend a regional private school for the rest of my secondary education.

After completing year 12, I still wasn’t entirely sure what I wanted to do, so I took a gap year to work at the school as an ICT trainee. While growing up, I was always curious about how things worked, and I also enjoyed solving puzzles. I found during that year in ICT, I learnt a lot about how the world functions and got that problem-solving fix I now craved regularly.

After the gap year position, I started a Bachelor of Information Technology at UniSA, where I was introduced to the world of software development. After the first semester, I transferred to a Bachelor of Software Engineering, as that focussed on a more complete software development picture, and opened an opportunity to an honours year.

At the end of the second year, I applied for a summer internship at the university. From here I got to learn how research worked, and completed some more paid work during my third year. At the end of the third year, I applied for and got a job at a geophysics business as a software developer. I worked there during my final year on projects using C#, VB.NET, FORTRAN, and MATLAB.

At the end of the fourth year, I applied for a graduate software engineer position at Saab Australia, and for the last year, I’ve been working here.

Could someone with a different background do your job?

Yes, definitely. Even around the workplace, there are many different examples of people have taken drastically different paths to eventually come and work here. You can be from a public school or a private school, come from a different country; none of that matters. All that does is that you can think creatively and/or logically, and can communicate productively with others.

What’s the coolest thing about your job?

For me, the coolest thing is getting a feature I’ve been working on for a long time to work correctly. It’s even better when it hadn’t been working at all, and then through a few minor changes, it works flawlessly. It’s an incredibly gratifying moment, and it just feels even better the longer you’ve been working on it.

What are the limitations of your job?

While this line of work isn’t physically demanding, it can at times be quite mentally challenging. It’s easy to get bogged down on one problem, and subsequently become frustrated and burnt out. This can be countered by knowing when to walk away from it and come back with a fresh perspective.

Equally demanding is the level of attention to detail needed. Problems can be created by a single incorrect word or character in the documentation, or a single incorrect character in code.

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

  • Take opportunities, even if you don’t think you’ll be that interested, you may be surprised. It could also open up a lot of doors for you in the future.
  • This especially applies if living away from home; if you can’t already, learn how to cook ASAP. Even if it’s using packet sauces with recipes, it’s cheaper than buying takeout all the time and will usually be healthier. A cookbook with simple recipes can be a good idea too.
  • Do your best to not burn bridges with people you meet while at university, it’s incredibly likely that you’ll end up working with people you met there at some point in your life.