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Media Article - From the Source | Nova Group CEO Greg Hume

Aug 12, 2016

Australian Defence Magazine (ADM)

12 August 2016

 

The Nova Group of Companies has continued onwards and upwards since being founded in 2000. The Group has just come under new management with Greg Hume taking over from founder Jim Whalley this year. ADM Editor Ketherine Ziesing spoke to Hume about the transition, growth opportunities and the wider Defence landscape.

 

ADM: Can you provide ADM readers with an overview of Nova Group (Nova Systems, GVH Group and Auspace) and the services you provide, and your local and international footprint?

Hume: Nova Systems are predominantly a professional service provider specialising in engineering and management services to industry and government alike actually, drawing on a range of our expertise in delivering complex projects and solving technology problems.

We’re still 100 per cent Australian and privately owned. Predominantly still working in defence but we have diversified, both overseas into a range of countries as well as into adjacent industries, if you like, that rely on that complex systems knowledge. So we’re operating in not just defence but energy and resources, utilities, communications, transportation and have offices pretty much around Australia now, plus offices in the UK, Singapore and NZ. We’ve got a presence in a variety of other countries, including Norway, Switzerland and the US.

We’ve managed to diversify across all of defence now – aerospace, land, maritime, joint – providing a range of services in not just our core original capability of test and evaluation but capability development delivery, a lot of project management delivery, specialist engineering and design across a range of specialist disciplines, including f certification and design approvals, operational systems, system safety, asset management and training.

GVH Aerospace, which has grown out of a couple of acquisitions is predominantly in the global civil aerospace business now, providing engineering and operational solutions.

We’ve got a range of approvals ranging from EASA Part 21J and Subpart P design approvals, as well as design approvals with CASA here in Australia, and CAAS in Singapore.  So we’re providing a range of solutions to airlines, aircraft lessors, OEMs, aero-medical and special mission operators.

Auspace is another part of the group that provides a range of solutions in more the controlling and managing of risk and productivity across a range of distributed assets, including lone workers, vehicles or other fixed assets. In that sense we’re able to provide a single visualisation platform, if you like, that enables our clients to monitor people, vehicles, equipment using a range of cellular, satellite and internet connections, and that gives near real time monitoring of events or accidents, longer term behavioural trends and other support to those clients.

 

ADM: What’s the split at the moment between the civil and the defence businesses, percentage wise?

Hume: It hasn’t actually changed that much – it’s roughly 70 per cent defence and the rest would be across the civil areas, both aerospace and the other markets that we’re in. We’re still growing those but the numbers of the people haven’t increased hugely, probably in the order of one or two dozen, but what we have managed to attract now are some ongoing clients and rather than being in start-up phase we’re actually now transitioning into a more sustainable and predictable business on both fronts.

 

ADM: What does your workforce look like these days?

Hume: We’re roughly 400 full time staff. The majority are engineers, a lot of specialist engineers and designers, but also a range of other operational staff; so we’re keeping that focus on delivery of operational outcomes rather than just focusing on the design. We’ve got a range of submarine captains, for example, surface ship captains, there’s pilots and engineers and a range of other intelligence or other specialisations within defence.

But then more broadly speaking, now we’ve got a range of other expertise across oil and gas, both in engineering, some analysts, some specialist engineers within certain specifics of those domains, as well as safety and other elements that we’ve been able to leverage out of defence and into those markets and then attract other people that have got more domain experience.

We’ve got quite a mixture of people now. We used to be predominantly ex-defence but now we’re sort of migrating the workforce – less than 50 per cent of the company now would have a military background.

 

ADM: Are you having any issues getting the right technical people that you need?

Hume: Yes, always. There are just not enough quality people, quality engineers in particular, available. There’s a continuous demand for them across a range of industries, not just defence or the industries that we’re in, and attracting those in Australia is a challenge.

We’ve actually tried to introduce a number of international recruits and diversification if you like, out of other industries into defence. We are handicapped to an extent because of security clearances. In fact, the time to get a security clearance is now significant.  It’s difficult to actually line up the business and then introduce someone into that once they’ve got a clearance because of the time it takes.  Some clearances are taking months, if not years, depending on the clearance level which is problematic.

We’re trying to come up with a way to grow our own staff. We’ve introduced a graduate program that builds on work experience through universities. We enter them into the company with mentoring and other programs to be able to grow our own engineers and other specialists now to be able to build our workforce,but also provide some level of diversification. We’re certainly trying to attract more women into the business and have had some success with that, as well as other culturally diverse backgrounds, which is also helping us with our international expansion with that cultural knowledge.

 

ADM: The Commonwealth has been building up its own test and evaluation capability in the last few years, particularly in the wake of the ANAO report into the issue. How has this affected your business?

Hume: We’ve always had a longstanding partnership with Defence, understanding that they bring current doctrine and tactics and operational knowledge into the test and evaluation environment where we in industry aren’t able to stay that current. What we tend to bring is more of the corporate knowledge about lessons of other test programs and how they’ve worked or not worked, and bringing that as part of a team has actually been quite successful.

In that sense we’re still doing what we’ve always done across a range of programs.  We’ve worked as an integrated team on a variety of platforms and test programs, aerospace, maritime, a range of others that seems to be working quite well and as Defence maintains and builds its capability, we’re attempting to grow and stay with them.

We are introducing new capabilities such as cyber security and others that are in the growth areas of the future as we’re still seeing that there is likely to be an ongoing requirement to support Defence’s own agencies when they need.

 

ADM: Do you feel that Defence is an educated customer when it comes to that side of their business?

Hume: There’s a huge range of experience levels across Defence. Some areas are immensely experienced and are able to do enormously complex programs, but I think as these programs become more complex and have longer timeframes then the ability to sustain that is obviously a challenge for everybody.

In that sense I think the way people are being trained, the way they’re being retained is going to become more and more important that Defence does work with industry so that we can provide that level of overall knowledge and expertise in the growth markets that I think Defence is entering; more and more work and projects are still coming down the acquisition line and as we’re seeing with a range of projects, Sea 5000, Sea 1000, Air Warfare Destroyer about to enter testing later on and there’s going to be an ongoing need for this sort of expertise and that’s certainly part of our core capability we’re hoping to grow with Defence.

 

ADM: Now that the dust is beginning to settle on the changes within Defence in the wake of the First Principles Review, what have you seen change in the organisation?

Hume: We’re seeing some very encouraging signs. We’re seeing more active dialogue coming from very senior levels within the organisation that previously has seemed somewhat reluctant. We’re also seeing some active reaching out to engage Defence industry, particularly with the recognition now of industry as a fundamental input to capability, and recognition that industry does have some valuable input and thinking on how Defence is going to move forward.

I think that the really interesting thing to see will be whether the high level acknowledgement of Defence industry’s early involvement and the direction to communicate and engage with industry will flow down to the working level within Defence. One of the things we have seen is that there’s also a recognition of the need for a cultural shift, where industry and Defence at times have had a somewhat challenging relationship and will need to overcome some of these legacy issues. It’s going to require a significant cultural change on both sides of the contractual fence.

But I have to say that I do like what I’m hearing in terms of the recognition of these cultural issues both from the industry discussions I’ve held but also senior defence. Certainly there seems to be a willingness from both parties to move forward on that front. We certainly look forward to collaborating further in this type of environment that I am hoping will be created post-First Principles Review and its implementation.

 

ADM: So what does being a FIC mean for you at Nova?

Hume: I think it comes back to what we talked about earlier with our test and evaluation support as an example.  Where Defence recognises that industry itself can be a fundamental part of providing an overall test and evaluation capability for Defence.

One of the areas that we’d like Defence and Government to recognise as part of this is what is going to be a sovereign capability for Australia?  We’re very keen to align ourselves with those areas where industry is going to be deemed as part of providing a sovereign capability for Australia as part of being a FIC.  What that actually means we’re all looking to see with some interest. What is going to be, if you like, flagged as something that needs to be a sovereign capability and a requirement for us to be able to do indigenously, and that’s certainly where Nova’s planning to align itself to those needs, to become a core element of that capability.

 

ADM: Are you happy with the level of program detail provided in the Integrated Investment Program?

Hume: You can never keep 100 per cent of people happy 100 per cent of the time with this sort of thing. The level of information for our needs is largely adequate. I think it is going to be interesting to see how it is maintained and whether it is going to be updated online as is forecast in the original document that was issued. I think if the information is updated regularly and we can rely on the accuracy of the indicative schedule, pricing and priorities that are going to be applied then it will be useful, and certainly from our perspective would largely meet our needs.

 

ADM: I’d just like to talk about the transition between yourself and Jim Whalley (one of the founders and former CEO) in terms of management; what does that look like and what does it mean for the company?

Hume: Well the transition started over 12 months ago when Jim announced publicly that he was going to step down; remain as chairman but revert back to being a project test pilot. In that sense the transition we’ve tried to set up has been relatively slow but considered and has formed part of our recent restructure to cater for the growth of the business. We’ve had not just myself transitioning into a new role but a variety of others that were promoted from within the company to take on new challenges within the leadership team.

Over the last 6months we’ve had a slow but sure transition to be able to introduce all of those new people into the new structure, with a level of exploration as boundaries have expanded and areas within the company have continued to grow. But in that sense I think overall I’d have to summarise it as smooth, that there has been no dysfunction that’s resulted. In fact, quite the opposite, I think it’s been very smooth. The strategy’s remained consistent. Nothing really has changed, apart from the name across the various leadership functions.

 

ADM: And I guess the big question is; are safari suits still part of your culture?

Hume: Compulsory.

 

View the Full August edition here http://www.australiandefence.com.au/home/adm-editions

 

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NOVA GROUP ANNOUNCES GREG HUME AS CEO

Jun 30, 2016

Nova Group today advises that Greg Hume has been appointed as Chief Executive Officer, effective 1 July, 2016.

Greg has been a key member of Nova Group’s senior management team as Chief Operating Officer since 2009 and will take over from Jim Whalley, who co-founded the Australian owned professional services firm with Peter Nikoloff in 2000.

Nova Group acts as the parent company for professional services provider Nova Systems, civil aerospace engineering firm GVH Aerospace, and integrated communications specialists Auspace.

Announcing the appointment Jim Whalley said he was delighted the Board had appointed Greg Hume as CEO.

Greg and I have been working together since the early days of Nova and I believe he is not only my natural successor but an outstanding one at that.

Greg is uniquely positioned for this role. He clearly understands the Australian Defence market and has a total commitment to our client’s success by maintaining a passion for Nova’s core values and strong culture.

Nova has grown rapidly over the past 15 years to be among the most successful and I believe, admired, Australian owned and operated professional services firms. That success for the most part, has been due to the leadership, effort and hard work of many others including Greg,” Mr Whalley said.

As Nova Group Chief Executive, Greg also takes over the role from Jim as Australia/New Zealand CEO for Nova Systems.  Jim will remain as Chairman of the Nova Board, and will continue to work within the firm on international expansion and as a project test pilot.

Reflecting on his appointment, Greg said his selection by Jim and the Board to lead this amazing team and position the Group for future growth was an exciting honour.

“The firm is in a good position for global expansion – already with operations in Australia, New Zealand, Singapore and the UK – and we will look to consolidate in these regional centres allowing us to grow strongly and contribute to solving current and future clients’ complex capability assurance problems.

I believe the innovative way we deliver our capabilities and the talent and experience of our consultants is key to our future successes,” Mr Hume said.

Greg Hume joined Nova in 2003 after 20 years with the Royal Australian Air Force.

A graduate of the Australian Institute of Company Directors and the Advanced Management Program at Harvard Business School, Greg is a qualified Flight Test Engineer and has over 25 years’ experience in aerospace test and evaluation, airworthiness certification, project management and systems engineering.

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Jon Sciortino receives BHP Billiton Recognition

Jun 30, 2016

Congratulations to Jon Sciortino, who recently received significant client recognition from BHP Billiton.

Amongst other responsibilities, Jon has recently managed the software upgrades for BHP Billiton’s Autonomous Haul Truck program. A potentially major safety issue arose during a recent upgrade and Jon, in his capacity as the operational representative, was a key member of the problem rectification team. Jon’s collaborative approach, energy and willingness to question traditional thinking, as well as his efforts to mentor and coach the team to approach the issue without bias, helped to identify a root cause and develop a workable solution under considerable time and production pressure.

‘Congratulations Jon on your Oresome Effort in recognition of your contribution to BHP Billiton and the way you live our Charter Values, particularly the values of Performance, Integrity & Respect.’

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SUBS in Schools - Athena go to NASA

Jun 24, 2016

Nova Systems recently sponsored the ATHENA 2015/16 St Peter’s Girls team – the 2016 Australian National Champions – in the ‘Subs in Schools competition’.

This sponsorship enabled the team to visit NASA in Houston to experience a one on one with Astronauts Andy Thomas, and (wife) Shannon Walker.

Congratulations team Athena.

For more information, and to follow their progress, view the ATHENA Facebook page here!

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G-NSYS on display at Farnborough

Jun 15, 2016

Nova Systems will be exhibiting at Farnborough International Airshow 2016, from 11th to 15th of July 2016.

We will be located at Hall 4, stand H4/130, and our H135 systems development and trials helicopter will be on display with a number of different trials and equipment installations.  If you are interested in Flight Testing your equipment then please come and see us!

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