Jan Phillips

BSc 1976

It has been interesting that I have used the skills I gained in the ANU Geology Department in both my military and civilian careers

I graduated at the bottom of the mid 1970’s mining boom and after a year of pushing to launch a career in geology, during which I worked on the 25th International Geological Congress in Sydney, and part-time for a geological exploration company in the Michelago area, I made the decision to try teaching. I did my Dip Ed with Ann Goleby, Bruce Webber and Jane Creaser, after they finished their honours year.

Before commencing my Dip Ed, I had joined the Army Reserve with the goal to drive trucks, and earn some income! I was commissioned into the Active Army Reserve in 1978, the same year that I started work in the ACT Department of Education, initially as a science teacher, later as a behaviour management consultant, manager of a high school goat stud and finally as an assistive technology consultant working with students with special needs. I continued with both careers for 28 years, until I was offered the opportunity to transition to the Australian Regular Army in a complex personnel/ reputation management role and settled to a single employer for the first time. Through my Defence career I have also received national accreditation as a mediator, a skill that I have found to be very handy when managing a variety of circumstances in military, education and civilian life.

It has been interesting that I have used the skills I gained in the ANU Geology Department in both my military and civilian careers and have maintained some of the friendships I made at ANU to this day. I recall with particular pleasure two great teachers, Prof David Brown and Prof KSW Campbell. I vividly recall a Geological Society trip to the New England, about 1975, where Prof Campbell stood on a fossil bed and after telling us that there were 125+ different species in the assemblage, he bent down and picked up a small specimen and said this is an ‘X’. How do you know? I said and he replied ‘because I named it!’

Although my husband died of cancer 16 years ago, I adjusted to the change in circumstances and life went on. I have two children, my daughter is a petroleum engineer, working for an international service company and my son, who has special needs, has just commenced studying part-time at University of Canberra, he hopes to become a lawyer. Although I had considered retirement, I find that I have moved into yet another area of endeavour and I am currently developing a beef cattle operation near Murrumbateman.

As I look back I am surprised at the amazing changes in technology which have occurred since my graduation: from an old manual typewriter to word processors that make editing so simple; from paying someone by the page, to type your thesis to doing it yourself; and from computer programming with a stack of punched cards to mobile phone apps. Who would have thought!! Although my life may not have gone in the direction I had hoped it would after graduation, I continue to achieve my goals, including gaining my civilian semi-trailer licence last year, just because I wanted to! It has been a great trip with plenty yet to come. 

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