Learning to lead in the Australian Army // Defence Force Recruiting

One of the reasons we love partnering with Defence Force Recruiting is because they encourage you to have an array of skills in your toolbox!

One of the skills which is super important to have and to continue to build on throughout your career (regardless of what industry you choose) is leadership. We couldn’t think of anyone better to learn the in’s and out’s of this skills from, than Army Captain Karina Harvey.

Find out more about Captain Karina Harvey below, what she has to say about leadership, and then join us on April 11 to hear from Karina in person at genYOU Doyenne: An event dedicated to young women.


Army Captain Karina Harvey joined the Australian Defence Force (ADF) straight out of school, aged 17.

Karina says leadership is something you can learn and the Australian Defence Force is well equipped to teach it.

Karina pursued a career in the Army because it offered excellent opportunities to study, gain new skills, and travel. It was also a career where she would meet new people, challenge herself, and learn to lead.

She commenced her military career as a Trainee Officer at the Australian Defence Force Academy, followed by 12 months at the Royal Military College- Duntroon, where the Army develops its world-class officers and leaders.

In her first appointment out of Duntroon Karina was responsible for 49 people. Karina said the group consisted of people with a wide range of experiences and skills, and was a very challenging, but highly rewarding role.

Karina said, “In my experience, you gain trust in your leadership capability through consistent actions.”

“You need to be someone who listens to people’s issues and ideas; who treats people with respect; and who does what you say you’re going to do,” she said.

“In the Australian Defence Force you learn about team work. It is so important to know where your team members’ strengths lay.

“As a leader this has implications for how you tackle challenges and work together to achieve positive outcomes.

“My military training taught me new ways of thinking about and approaching issues,” she said.

“At the Royal Military College we learn a process called the OODA loop. It stands for Observe – Orient – Decide – Act, and was developed by a United States Air Force Colonel, John Boyd.

“Essentially, when you are presented with a problem, you assess it based on your previous experience and any current information you have about the situation.

“Based on this information you make a decision, enact this decision, and observe the outcome to determine your next action.

“It is a loop, or a cycle, because it is a continuous process of analysing, acting, then observing and learning from the outcome, to inform your next decision.

“This ties directly into knowing your team. If you understand the resources you have and the capabilities of your team you can make better decision, quicker,” Karina said.

“In the Army we’re trained and enabled to think laterally. You develop an ability to think through multiple approaches to achieving an outcome, and to implement the most viable option to achieve the mission,” Karina said.

“Personally, my training has built my confidence in my own skills and my ability to contribute. I know my strengths and weaknesses, and how I react in different situations.

“I am quite an analytical thinker. I know that I am comfortable having more information than less. But, I’ve been equipped to trust my instincts, to make the best decision with the information I have, act and adjust as required.”

“I am always learning something from those around me, as well as something about myself, I’m always surprised by what the teams I am in command of are capable of achieving.

“It is a great privilege to be entrusted to command appointments where the decisions I make have real impacts on the lives of those for whom I am responsible” Karina said.


generationYOU is proud to partner with Defence Force Recruiting for genYOU Doyenne: An event dedicated to young women on April 11, where Captain Karina Harvey will be speaking on “developing leadership skills for impact.”

If you have leadership potential and want to commence a challenging and exciting career straight out of high school visit www.defencejobs.gov.au