Seaman Vimbayi Hakutangwi is hoping to inspire others, particularly young women, to pursue a career in Defence and show it doesn’t have to come at the expense of achieving personal goals.
CAPTION: Gap Year Seaman Vimbayi Hakutangwi with a dive helmet at HMAS Stirling, Western Australia. Story by Richard Wilkins. Photo by Able Seaman Rikki-Lea Phillips.
Enlisted through the ADF Gap Year Navy program, Seaman Hakutangwi is currently balancing her ambitions of becoming a clearance diver with a ‘passion for fashion’, competing as a finalist in the Miss Universe Australia competition.
Seaman Hakutangwi was born in Zimbabwe, came to Australia as an unaccompanied minor in 2009 and was brought up in Perth by a single mother.
It was her passion for challenging herself that drew her to a career in Defence.
“When I initially began looking into a career with Defence, I had ambitions to become a submariner,” she said.
“But as I researched more roles, I became drawn to the role of a cryptologic linguist and clearance diver.
“I recall someone at Defence Force Recruiting suggest that I enlist through the ADF Gap Year as this would allow me to explore these different roles without committing blindly.”
From the beginning of this year, Seaman Hakutangwi has been posted to Clearance Diving Team Four (AUSCDT Team Four) for work experience, witnessing first-hand the daily activities of one of Navy’s most elite units.
“It is truly inspiring to see how they handle challenging and high-pressure situations with professionalism and precision,” she said.
“Working alongside them has taught me the importance of teamwork, attention to detail and staying calm under pressure. It has been an invaluable experience that has greatly enriched my understanding of the Navy and its tenacious personnel
“I have been able to make lifelong friends and have met an extensive range of mentors of differing ranks, who have provided me with guidance in making the right career choice no matter what path I choose to take. I have never felt alone with their consistent support.”
While training to become a clearance diver would be more than enough to keep most people busy, Seaman Hakutangwi also finds time to indulge her passion for dancing, surfing, travelling and competitive netball.
It was through a netball friend that she became aware of the Miss Universe Australia competition.
“I saw it as an incredible opportunity to showcase my skills, represent my country and empower women to dare to have a career whilst still pursuing personal dreams and aspirations,” she said.
“The journey to competing in Miss Universe Australia has been a whirlwind of excitement, hard work and personal growth. I have made lifelong friends from all over Australia and had the opportunity to travel to Vietnam with them for our national finalists trip. The memories I have created will always hold a special place in my heart.”
Seaman Hakutangwi said she hoped her achievements would inspire more young women to pursue a career in Defence, showing they can strive to achieve their personal goals regardless of profession.
“At first, I thought balancing my career and personal aspirations would be a daunting challenge. However, over the past eight months, I have experienced nothing but immense support and flexibility from both sides,” she said.
“Personnel from AUSCDT Team Four even went the extra mile to come to the Miss West Coast State Final. The support I have received from the Defence community has definitely surpassed my expectations.”
CAPTION: Seaman Vimbayi Hakutangwi recently competed as a finalist in the Miss Universe Australia competition.
ADF Gap Year Navy Officer in Charge Lieutenant JD Byrne commended Seaman Hakutangwi for her achievements.
“I am thrilled that we have the capacity in Navy and the Gap Year Program to support members like Seaman Hakutangwi as they strive to achieve their personal goals,” Lieutenant Byrne said.
“She is an inspirational member whose hard work and dedication has resulted in her achieving outstanding results through the Miss Universe competition. The benefits of having goals outside of the RAN can greatly add to achievements at work, and striking the balance is important.”
AUSCDT Team Four Commanding Officer Lieutenant Commander William Thomas said Seaman Hakutangwi is already making a name for herself in the team.
“We have enjoyed the way Vim has integrated seamlessly into our team, even taking on rates on the dive site that shows her motivation to strive to be her best self,” Lieutenant Commander Thomas said.
“It also shows that young women like her are more than capable of taking on responsibilities that they may have never imagined possible. She’s been an absolute asset to the team and we know she will continue to prosper.”
Not one to rest on her laurels, Seaman Hakutangwi is looking ahead to what is sure to be a successful and inspiring career in Defence.
“My aspiration is to become a clearance diver. I am working towards that goal by planning to take the ADF Scuba Air Course later this year in September, followed by the clearance diver aptitude assessment testing next year in May,” she said.
“In the long run, I hope to commission and continue my Bachelor of Arts degree, double majoring in journalism and international relations. I believe this combination will allow me to make a positive impact and contribute greatly to the field.
“The Gap Year has provided me with invaluable perspectives on the various roles and is especially beneficial for those who are fresh out of school or having trouble deciding on a specific role.
“The ability to explore different options and gain exposure to a wide range of experiences is priceless. I could not be more fortunate to have chosen this path to begin my career within the Navy.”