As a year 12 student some 30 years ago, my focus was on having a good time, which may not be that different to many of todays students in year 12. The result of my "good times" was that was I did not pass the Matriculation exams and shut the gate on entry to university. As a know-it-all 17 year old, I joined the Australian Army and began my 20 year career. Along the way, I discovered that I enjoyed learning and that I was probably smarter than I had previously given myself credit for.
During my 20s, maturity assisted in my selection for officer training. More importantly, I was one of a very small group of my cohort to graduate to the Intelligence Corps. As an Intelligence Officer, I was required to be an analyst and was given access to an Aladdins cave of information, both classified and unclassified. Back then it was called intelligence collection and analysis - now of course I call it research. Suffice to say that it was my time as an Intelligence Officer that developed my love of research and a desire to one day do a PhD.
After a 20 career in the Army, I accidentally fell into the resource sector as the security manager for a medium sized diamond producer with domestic and international operations. This marked the start of my new research focus - the worldwide legal and illicit diamond industry - and the recognition that I was someone who new quite a bit about this. My extensive knowledge led to my being appointed as an expert consultant to the UN in Sierra Leone. As a diamond consultant, I advised the UN mission and Sierra Leone Government on policing the local diamond sector, which resulted in the establishment of a specialised police unit.
Around this same time, I completed my Masters degree and began thinking more seriously about a PhD. However, being a consultant and undertaking a PhD at the same time did not seem prudent. I faced the decision of whether to complete the PhD and go bankrupt or develop a good business and never complete the PhD. Of course there was a solution - apply for a lecturing position and combine work with study. Now I lecture in security and intelligence in the new School of Computer and Security Science whilst researching Professional Intelligence Judgement Artistry in order to determine what separates good intelligence analysts from great analysts.