25-year old Alex Zourkas confessed he didn't enjoy school very much.
Growing up in Mornington, Victoria, the AFL Forward Pocket said he was more interested in playing football and hanging out with his mates.
"One day my Dad and I had an argument about school," he said.
"I can recall Dad saying, 'well your friends won't pay the mortgage'.
"So I started a job search on seek.com and the Navy came up straight away.
"I joined at the age of 17, and looking back, it was the best career decision I ever made," he added.
Alex was offered a position as Combat Systems Operator and within six months of completing category training, he deployed to the Middle East Region in Anzac Class frigate HMAS Stuart, conducting counter terrorism and counter piracy patrols in the Arabian Sea and north Indian Ocean.
"I marched out of category training on the 24th April 2009, and on the 24th April 2010 I returned from the Gulf," he said.
"Deploying on operations – and seeing a different part of the world – was a privilege so early in my career."
Alex, who hails from a family of restaurant and café owners, was no stranger to hard work, with experience at the Mornington Target, Hungry Jacks and Subway all on his resume by the age of 17.
Now he turns his attention to complex radar and data link systems to protect the 1,000 or so souls in the ship he's embarked in.
"As a Combat Systems Operator we deal with the radars, and make sure the ship knows what's going on in the outside world," he said.
"We track unknown aircraft and surface ships. Maintain constant communication and liaison between ships at sea as well as many other auxiliary tasks."
This winter, Alex will participate in the world's largest maritime warfare exercise, Rim of the Pacific (RIMPAC) in and around the islands of Hawaii.
Embarked in Amphibious Assault Ship, HMAS Canberra, Alex will monitor the surface and air picture to allow a large contingent of troops and vehicles to land safely on the beaches.
"It will be a busy time in the operations room," he said.
"We chat to the boats carrying personnel and equipment and say, 'yes come', and 'yes go', but it's up to the Landing Force Commander, the conduit between the beach and the Amphibious Task Group commander to give the order."
The Australian Defence Force has participated in Exercise RIMPAC since its inception in 1971, but 2016 will be the first year in which the ADF will contribute an entire Amphibious Task Group, with frigates HMA Ships Warramunga and Ballarat, Landing Helicopter Dock, HMAS Canberra as well as troops and vehicles from Army's 2nd Battalion, Royal Australian Regiment.
Alex said it's an exciting prospect as a Combat Systems Operator.
"When we sail in a Task Group, we link our radar picture to the radar picture in other ships, so we can see further than we might normally be able to see on our own."
"I'm looking forward to doing my job under some of the most demanding of conditions, learning a lot and testing myself," he said.