Paul Western and his team in Nowra

With a range of career and job options on offer and the flexibility to support transfers to align with posting cycles, Ventia recognises the skills, value and experience that Australian Defence Force (ADF) Veterans bring with them when they choose to work with us.

As a result of our many years of service to the ADF and our national footprint, Ventia attracts Veterans, their spouses and civilians who have family connections to the military and a desire to continue some form of service. 

Paul Western (pictured above, far left) is our Area Manager for Southern New South Wales and the ACT on the Defence Retail Stores and National Clothing Store contract. After joining the Australian Army in 1988, Paul dedicated 25 years of his life in service to Australia as a member of our armed forces.

"I've lived in every state except for Western Australia," said Paul. 

"I was fortunate, a lot of my postings were three-years - so I moved around a lot and decided to make the most of it, to see as much of the country as possible." 

Back in Nowra

Paul has now returned to his home base at Nowra in New South Wales, where he first joined the service. 

Paul started out as a Stores Manager back on "Civvy Street" (as a civilian before joining the Army), working for Blackwood Hodge and Sons, managing earthmoving equipment, tools and spare parts. He ran their Sydney store in the late 1980's working in a role that was both front and back of house, with a warehouse and workshop, as well as a sales counter.

I was always more storeman than salesperson. 

True to form, upon joining the Army, Paul became a storeperson, now known as an ADF Warehouse Coordinator. This is a crucial logistics and support role, handling the receipt, storage and delivery of military equipment and supplies for operations across a range of environments and locations - it keeps the army moving.

"They train you to a basic level at first and you build on that by taking courses each time you step up for promotion," said Paul. 

He completed leadership and operational courses, learning how to spot danger, how to patrol and clear buildings. Another course ensured candidates were educated to a high school certificate level. This was followed by trade-related learning.

"For me this was stocktaking, logistics and inventory management - moving from front counter to back office."  

Not only did Paul learn how to deploy logistics within Australia and overseas, he also focused on how you supply down to the troops on the ground, mastering distribution of support to the operational front line. Over time, Paul found the logistics function required a broad understanding across a range of critical functions, from transport and medical, to mechanical including weapons and vehicles. "I had to know how to recover it, how to replace it and how to fix it," he said. 

The journey from Army to civilian

During his service, Paul gained strong experience working overseas. In the early 1990's he spent a fortnight in New Zealand playing the role of the enemy in a training exercise for cadets with the Royal Military College. 

In 2000, Paul supported centenary celebrations as Storeman for the Australian Federation Guard, a tri-service ceremonial unit made up of members from the Royal Australian Navy, the Australian Army and the Royal Australian Air Force - the first purely ceremonial unit in the history of the Australian armed forces. "I went to England and had to make sure everything was ready for the Guard, including the band, when they represented Australia at Buckingham Palace and the Tower of London." 

Paul was deployed to serve in East Timor for four months concluding in 2009 as part of Operation Astute, deployment of troops to bring security, peace and confidence to the people of Timor-Leste following the 2006 crisis. 

When Paul discharged from the Army in 2012, he landed a job full-time four days later with Serco. After two years, their contract was picked up by Transfield Services, and is now Ventia. 

I went from being a supervisor of just one store, to also overseeing three Defence Fuel Installations and a repairs workshop. I was often tapped on the shoulder to visit locations when issues arose that needed resolving or staff needed coaching or training.

Defence Clothing Store Services

The five-year contract to operate the Defence Clothing Stores network kicked off in 2018 and delivers clothing and personal equipment, kitting and tailoring services to the ADF. Paul was then promoted to the position of Area Manager. 

"I now cover the Shoalhaven region and Canberra for Ventia. In the ACT, I've picked up the HMAS Albatross Royal Australian Navy store, plus the ADFA and RMC clothing stores, and a total of six Defence Retail and National Clothing stores. We also have the HMAS Creswell Navy store on the waterfront of Jervis Bay, which I am never sad to visit." 

In 2022, Paul will have been working in his evolving role for a decade and having started with one team member, he now looks after 45 people and is still passionate about his job.  

"I love my job. I believe in treating people the way you like to be treated. It's a bit of a cliché, but I treat all my workers like they're my kids, my family. It doesn't matter what's happening with them, whether it is home life, work life or whatever; if there is something wrong, there is something wrong." 

"I make sure they know I am here to talk about it, if that's what they want." 


Ventia employee at a Defence Clothing Store servicing a young soldier

The Defence Clothing Store Services contract delivers clothing and personal equipment, kitting and tailoring services to the ADF.


Mentoring for client focus

When Ventia began partnering Defence to support the clothing stores, Paul invested his time mentoring and coaching his team of supervisors. "I wanted people to think outside the box, rather than just doing things the way they had always done them - to think about whether there might be better or more efficient ways." 

"Some people resist change, but what I have learned is that if you don't embrace change, you can't shape it." 

Ventia has helped me transition from service life back into normality. 

"I get to see the guys I've worked with over the years, because I'm still at Defence locations, which is much better than the outright cut of removing yourself from the service altogether and having your phone calls to your mates become few and far between. It's important not to lose contact," said Paul.

"I was in the Clothing Store the other week in Canberra and one of the Captains I used to work for back at the Royal Military College, who is now a Major General in the Army, said 'G'day, how are you doing, Paul?' I hadn't seen him for years, but he still said hi and remembered me, because I'm still around."


Pictured at top: Paul Western (left) with his team in Nowra, NSW.


Read about our Veterans Employment Program here

Ventia has signed the Soldier On pledge and supports the Pathways program, which makes it easy for veterans and their families to recognise veteran-supportive organisations like Ventia and enables Ventia to connect with veterans to assist with job opportunities and career transitions.