This edition of What’s your story features John Boylan, the current HR Manager at Greenpeace Australia. Since his beginning as an Army Cadet to his current position, John has had a very interesting career.
I’m currently working as Human Resources Manager for Greenpeace Australia Pacific. Broadly speaking, I’m tasked with all the HR functions of Greenpeace in our geographical region.
What other activities are you involved in?
I do a bit of fitness training for a local rugby team called Sydney Irish. It’s a largely expat group and leans far more to the social than to the competitive side of things. In saying that, they’ve won two trophies in their first two years so there must be some talent there!
Aside from that, although over a year and a half in the country, I still see myself very much as a tourist in Australia and so spend my time trying to figure out what exactly is going on in Australian people’s heads…an endlessly fascinating pursuit.
Is this what you expected to be doing when you were at school?
I had absolutely no expectations in school of what I was going to be become…not in a negative sense; I just had complete confidence that I’d choose my own path and not conform to what seemed the obvious choice. I still do that and I still have no idea where I’ll be in 5 years’ time…and it’s made all the difference!
What was your first job?
My first job was when I was 13 at an amusement park stall selling dreams…..well, selling the dream of being able to knock 6 cans over with a baseball and winning a teddy-bear. The lady who ran the stalls used to sit in a caravan watching us all on CCTV cameras so if you stopped yelling out “3 balls for a pound!” to customers she’d come down and give out to you. Naturally I came to dislike this woman and took great pride in blocking the camera, knocking the cans over with my hand and presenting select people with their prize.
My first REAL job I suppose was when I was accepted into the Army Cadets after school which kick-started a 12 year career as an Army Officer.
Can you tell us about a significant turning point in your career/life?
I wouldn’t so much call it a turning point as confirmation of what I’d suspected, but when I was serving as a Lieutenant in Kosovo in 2008 I felt stymied by my role there. While the Irish Army performs an unbelievably valuable function in the peacekeeping sphere, being involved in the military side of things meant you could help, but only so much. After that, I knew I needed to get involved in a far more direct way with helping people in trouble-hit zones. I haven’t got there yet, but that’s the goal.
Who do you admire? Who has inspired you?
Che Guevara. Reading his works and about his life in my early 20s completely restored my faith that there are leaders out there who will choose the harder right over the easier wrong, and that will act with disciplined selflessness in order to inspire orders through leading by example. He was intelligent, pragmatic, completely uncompromising, and guided by a personal set of morals, values and ethics that I could personally empathise with.
If there were no limitations, what would be in the future for you?
I’d like to put my skills from the army into practice by coordinating international aid elements on the ground in disaster-hit areas or war-torn regions.
Finally, what would you tell your younger self about work and careers?
I’d tell him that, as he suspected, nothing you do will totally meet your expectations, so as soon as you feel things have run their course, get out…..and trust in your ability to find what you’re looking for.