Home' Defence Magazine : Defence Magazine Issue 2, 2108 Contents Steven Groves brings a fresh
perspective to his role as
Chief Finance Officer.
Photo: Jay Cronan
STEVEN Groves says preparing and planning
for the long term is one of the best lessons
he has learnt in his career.
“You have to view a job like it’s a
marathon,” he says. “If you are continually
surging and getting worked up over issues
then you are not going to make it to the end.
“You have to try to keep calm and look at
it from a long-term perspective and accept
things are going to take time, but at the
same time you need to be pushing forward.
“I have learnt not to get too wound up
about the small things because you waste a
lot of energy that you’re better off directing
somewhere else. So you just have to take
some things on the chin and move on. In the
end, the world will continue.
“You also need to be able to switch off
when you go home. I don’t think there have
been too many times in my career where
I have had a problem sleeping, so being
able to keep some balance in life is very
Steven also says experience brings its
“ When you have been around the town
doing similar roles for a long period of time,
you’ve seen most things.
“A lot of the time you can plan and be
ready for what’s next because you’ve seen it
and dealt with it before.”
Steven has worked with a number of
leaders he has admired and learned different
things from them.
“I worked for Michael Carmody, who is a
former tax commissioner, and I learned a lot
from him around good governance and how
to make sure an organisation is delivering on
what it said it was going to deliver.
“Likewise I worked with Mike Pezzullo,
Secretary of Home Affairs, for eight years
and learnt a lot around strategy and issues
management and how to manage the hurly-
burly of a big organisation. I would say they
are probably the two most influential figures.”
The boss who challenged him the most
was a former CFO at the Tax Office.
“Donna Moody was probably the person
who forced me out of my comfort zone.
“I was in a job that I really loved and
she forced me to move into the other side
of accounting, which is more the financial
accounting side. It was something I was
never really interested in but something I
will forever be grateful for because it helped
me become a bit more rounded and helped
me get CFO positions. My next job was CFO
at Veterans’ Affairs.”
Experience brings its own rewards
of established processes, which I am not saying are
bad in any way, but there are different ways of doing
things I would like to work through and I have ideas
on how we can be doing things differently.”
Steven also believes he has taken on the role at the
right time and is excited by the challenge.
“I think the First Principles Review set the agenda
for change and meant the organisation had to think
about doing things differently.
“It is a good time to be coming in, there’s a lot
of change in the senior leadership, which inevitably
opens the organisation up to different views.”
While he doesn’t describe himself as your stereo-
typical accountant, he says he has some of the traits.
“I don’t think I am as introverted as others and
I don’t look at other people’s shoes, but I enjoy the
financial management side of things and I’m proba-
bly much better at remembering numbers than I am at
remembering people’s names – that might be a bit of
Having been through the Graduate scheme in the
late 90s, Steven’s advice for the 300-plus Defence
graduates is to learn their trade before looking up.
“A lot of graduates come in and think they should
be climbing the corporate ladder very quickly,” he
“Make sure you learn your full set of skills before
jumping up the ladder. From my experience at some
point you will need those skills and, if you haven’t
had the opportunity to fine-tune those at a junior
level, you’ll struggle as you climb the tree.
“I remember in one of my first jobs as a grad my
band one said ‘oh can you come into this meeting
and do the minutes’. I had no idea, I hadn’t even seen
any minutes of meetings so I didn’t know what I was
meant to be capturing.
“It’s those basic skills, like a bank reconciliation,
it’s good to get them in your toolbox, because you
never know when you’ll need them.”
Issue 2 2018 Defence
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