Stepping up and talking the talk

When Chief Petty Officer Gillian Bryant stepped up to act in a lieutenant commander’s role, she could walk the walk, but found it hard to talk the talk.

CAPTIONChief Petty Officer Gillian Bryant has been awarded a Conspicuous Service Cross. Story by Corporal Michael Rogers.

“Officers don’t tend to communicate the same way as senior sailors or junior ranks, so I softened my edges to allow communication up and down,” Chief Petty Officer Bryant said.

“I think it’s made me a better senior sailor, knowing how to approach those conversations that can sometimes be difficult.

“During my service I have encountered some great leaders and mentors, who have enabled me to succeed and grow into the senior sailor I am today. I am grateful to have had those people around me and support my career.”

Then Petty Officer Bryant volunteered to fill the role of operations officer of Sea Training Group – Defence Cooperation Program when no replacement could be found.

The communication and information systems sailor worked in the assistant operations officer role for 12 months before her unexpected job change, which came during a turbulent time in the program.

Several of the Guardian-class patrol boats had returned to Australia from pacific partners for urgent unplanned repairs, and Chief Petty Officer Bryant found herself working long hours to keep her head above water.

“I would often find myself logging on after my children had gone to bed so I could catch up on the day and prepare for the next, but I guess that’s just my work ethic,” Chief Petty Officer Bryant said.

“The organisation relied quite heavily on me and I wanted to do a good job. I wanted to make sure that I provided the right support and got the right outcomes at the right time.”

She was able to plan and deliver training with limited personnel, at a time when the organisation was under significant scrutiny due to the maintenance issues.

Even though there was no expectation for her to fill a communications role, she also volunteered to provide communications training on the vessels.

For her outstanding achievements, Chief Petty Officer Bryant was awarded the Conspicuous Service Cross as part of the 2024 Australia Day honours.

She sees the award not only as recognition of her work with Sea Training Group, but also for the effort she has put in over her career.

“I never thought I would receive anything of this calibre. I feel like its 23 years of hard work and dedication that I’ve been recognised for, not just this period of time,” Chief Petty Officer Bryant said.

“I always just jump in feet first and do my absolute best every time to get things done. So, I feel like all those years I’ve done that and been this same person, I’m being rewarded for my life and career so far.”


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