Championing future Defence capability
Brigadier Kathryn Toohey began her Army career in 1987 when she was chosen to be in one of the first intakes of the Australian Defence Force Academy. She joined the Signals Corps and served in several communications and electronic warfare units. An early career highlight was serving as a Troop Commander on an operational deployment with the United Nations Transitional Authority in Cambodia. She has also served as an instructor at the Royal Military College, as aide-de-camp to the Governor-General and as Director of Defence’s Capability and Technology Management College.
Kathryn has enjoyed the diverse challenges in each of her postings, but says she feels especially privileged to be a Director General in the Capability Development Group. In charge of the Integrated Capability Development Branch, she leads an experienced team of people who are analysing and proposing to government the best options for Australia’s future defence capability. In particular, Kathryn’s team develops options for systems that will be used across all Services and Groups in Defence, such as those providing communications, simulation and operational information.
In addition to championing specific systems, Kathryn also oversees a specialised directorate responsible for guiding and evaluating integration between other projects and systems already in service.
‘Defence employs very complex and sophisticated systems in diverse circumstances, and often in conjunction with our allies. The best way we can ensure all these capabilities work together is to consider integration as early as possible in the process, at the point of project initiation and design’, Kathryn said.
In addition to normalising integration for all projects and driving an attitude of continuous improvement, Kathryn wants her branch to be a workplace of choice.
‘Fortunately, most people really want to be here anyway’, she said.
‘We have a diverse mix of military, public servants and contractors, all with considerable expertise and dedication. They know that the business cases they present to government have the potential to deliver capability that will remain in service and save Australian lives, long after they have retired from their own careers. It is complex work, but very rewarding.’
Kathryn admits to being highly committed to her work, so she is very grateful for the balance provided by her family—she has a husband and three school-age children. She is also a keen runner, basketball player and traveller.