Steve is a Lieutenant Commander and Innovation Engagements Manager in the Royal Australian Navy, after a long and rewarding career that has taken him all over the world.
What happened after you left Bridgnorth Endowed School?
After I left school at 16, I worked in Baxters Butchers on Bridgnorth's High Street for 18 months, before joining the Royal Navy in 1980.
Since then, I’ve been in a number of tight spots and great places, travelling all over the world. I’ve spent over 15 years at sea, away from home, and been to the Falklands, the Gulf of Oman, working in counter-drugs in the Caribbean, and many other great places.
I have been in charge of the Royal Navy Leadership Academy, the initial entry officers training school in Australia, and head of a training team at the Australian Defence Force Academy.
Having achieved all I could, I decided to emigrate and start again in the Royal Australian Navy in 2008, with a commission as an officer. I am now a Lieutenant Commander, having been promoted through all the ranks over time. My family and I now live and work on the Gold Coast in Australia.
What does your current job involve?
Over the years, I have self-studied in a variety of areas – it took six years to do my BSc at sea! This has led me away from combat operations, where I specialised, and I now work in strategic people development.
I am a certified leadership coach and systems facilitator and have now become Innovation Engagements Manager for the Navy. This means I help take a person’s idea and turn it into something useful.
I often present and give lectures to help other government agencies start up their own innovation programmes. It’s a varied role with new challenges every week.
I have also started my own company, to conduct leadership development and to coach veterans leaving the Military and also business people – www.livedeep.com.au.
What achievement are you most proud of?
It has been a long journey and not without its challenges. I survived kidney cancer in 2015 and on the day I was diagnosed, I had taken on a new job, which kept me focussed, so I am proud of being pretty resilient.
In 2004, I was awarded an MBE by the Queen, for leading a major change in the Royal Navy and was subsequently awarded the Meritorious Service Medal for all my work, just before I left.
I have been given commendations for my work in Australia by the Head of the Navy and, apparently, I am one of the top 100 achievers in Defence.
I think, over time, we all achieve great things and I am always looking for an opportunity. This year, I hope to conduct research into coaching people with autism, just because it means something to me and no one has done it.
I am most proud of my daughter and son, for their hard work and who they have become, and my wife, who I've been married to for 33 years, for putting up with so many years of separation.
What were the highlights of your time at Bridgnorth Endowed School?
School is one of those places you don’t appreciate until later. I was one of the last to go through the grammar school system and, while it was quite strict, it set the standard on how I approached problems in the future. If you’ve ever done an exam on a ship in the dark with a head torch you will understand!
I loved the Houses (Talbot ruled, by the way) and the sports set up; I became an avid rugby player of 30 years, thanks to Mr Dave Turnock, who sadly passed away recently. The practical aspects we did in woodwork and metalwork, like making chess boards and bike racks, may have seemed silly, but, as an adult, simple skills go a long way. I believe school set me on a course for adventure and so, here I am.
A word to the wise
School may seem really hard but it’s that way for a reason, and that is to prepare and educate you for life. Life can change at any second and you can choose to do whatever you want.
If you work hard at school, you get to learn skills that will stand you in good stead for the rest of your life. If you volunteer and do scary stuff now, you will continue to grow all your life. Life isn’t a rehearsal and the world needs great people and leaders more than ever before. Over to you now….