I came across HALO in 2005 while deployed as a United Nations Military Observer in Sudan. I was an Officer in the Royal Australian Regiment, finishing my ninth year in the service. It was a very different peacetime Army, where a job with a Peacekeeping Mission was the gold standard and only available to the lucky few.
I had just received an email posting me for two years behind a desk in Townsville when I first spoke with HALO about their work, which sounded like everything I was looking for. It gave me the opportunity to be back in the field getting mines out of the ground, in some fascinating places around the world. With my experience HALO offered me a command posting almost immediately, and were willing to bridge the gap between my army training and their own in-house training to get me up to speed! I dropped everything, and disappeared from the shores of Australia within weeks of arriving home.
I joined HALO in 2006, and after completing my three months of deminer training in Angola, survey in Sri Lanka, explosives training in Nagorno Karabakh and mechanical training in Abkhazia, I was posted to Cambodia in 2007.
My postings in Cambodia were a career dream come true. As a Location Manager of 200 staff, I was given enough rope to hang myself and all the support I needed to develop, with my final posting as Deputy Programme Manager. I was very fortunate at that time to be part of a process of changing how we structured clearance, which was an exceptionally rewarding challenge to my creative problem solving addiction.
I met my wife Rachel on explosives ordnance disposal training in Nagorno Karabakh in 2006, and we were fortunate to be posted together in Cambodia in 2008. We left HALO in early 2009 to start a fitness business in Edinburgh, and to start a family.
Despite the many engaging challenges of running your own business, it just didn’t compare to HALO which I looked back on as the most professionally rewarding time in my life. Six years later I re-joined HALO as the Programme Manager of Mozambique in 2015, to witness the first heavily mined country be declared free of known mines, for which I remain grateful. Now I have the chance to lead the team in Nagorno Karabakh towards the same dream, returning to Stepanakert with Rachel where we first met ten years prior.
I see incredible value in living and working with the many exceptional people that HALO employs around the world. That experience is priceless, and one that I hope to share with my daughter as she grows and develops surrounded by a diverse cultural stimulus. It is an education money can’t buy.
I am committing ten years of my life to continue the work HALO is doing globally to rid the world of landmines. By 2025 we could see many of the world’s most heavily impacted countries free of mines, and to me, that’s ten year investment in a life spent living.