Dr Ellen Nelson is working to change how we look at work. Her career started in the New Zealand Army but today she is working to change how we look at work. When she was nine years old she saw a recruiting campaign by the military and it convinced her to join. And she stuck to that plan through school. She went to her officer training in Australia at the Australian Defense Force Academy. There she made a lot of friends and when she started off her career she didn’t really know anyone in the New Zealand Army and may of her close friends from military life are Australians. She served as an Engineer Officer. We also discussed her transition out of the military and how it led to the work she is doing today.
Changing how we look at work
As an Engineering Officer she worked to manage the construction projects. She was responsible for managing the troops but also got learn about the trade they did. She managed projects not only in New Zealand but also all over the world including Afghanistan and the Pacific Islands. Her last assignment before she left the militarywas in recruiting. She worked to help people from other countries who wanted to serve in the New Zealand Army.
During her ten years in the Army she spent seven of those ten years outside of New Zealand. She spent a lot of time in Australia, did a six month exchange in Great Britain, did a number of construction projects in the Pacific Islands, deployed to Afghanistan and spent two months in Antartica. Her deployment to Afghanistan was on a Provincial Reconstruction Team.
While deployed she was in charge of base infrastructure for the NZ Army. She was also the Engineer Officer for the PRT and went on various mission within her province in Afghanistan.
Leaving the US Military
She decided to leave the military after ten years because she had set out the goals she wanted. And she also was looking for more stability with hopes of planning for a family in the future. She had a smooth transition. She got her MBA before leaving the military and also took advantage of her career in recruiting. There were a number of civilians working with her which gave her an opportunity to work in an office type environment and helped bridge the transition from military to corporate life.
Getting her Ph.D.
She decided to go back to school and get her Ph.D. She picked the topic of women in leadership with a focus on the military for her dissertation topic. Through her interviews she found that while women had a lot of positive things to say about their experience in the military there were recurring themes of issues and challenges they faced while in the military because of their gender. It caused her to reflect on her own experience and she wanted to do something so she approached the head of the New Zealand Army and told him about her work. This led to her working with the NZ Army to make things better for women.
Changing how we look at work #workschoolhours
That experience changed her focus and she began wanting to work to change everyone’s experience in the workforce. And works to advocate to make things better for workers in the work place. Flexible schedules, work based on output not hours spent at a desk, and more. She is now working on a movement of changing how we work. Her campaign is under #workschoolhours
She also shared about how she worked to get the team members she worked with in Afghanistan out of Afghanistan after the fall of the Afghan government and the take over by the Taliban.