Glen Ferrarotto — Ironside Recruitment

In 2012, Glen Ferrarotto founded Australia's first dedicated recruitment agency for veterans, Ironside Recruitment.

5 June 2020

Since that time, he has paved the way for a large number of Australian veterans to access and develop long term, meaningful careers outside of the ADF.

Glen is a veteran himself, having served for over 10 years in the Australian Army as a CPL vehicle mechanic. He joined in 1997 as an 18 year old and qualified as a heavy vehicle mechanic by 2001, and began his posting cycles. By the age of 26, Glen had lived in three states and one territory and represented the Australian Army as a Catafalque Commander at Sandakan, Borneo on Anzac Day in 2005.

He had led Army sections through jungle warfare training in SE Asia and was deployed twice to Afghanistan with the Special Operation's Task Group. After a posting to Melbourne following his second deployment to Afghanistan, Glen discharged into the Australian Reserves in 2008. In 2012, Glen transitioned to non-active reserves, and 25 May 2020 was Glen’s official last day of service at any level.

Glen Ferrarotto in Australian Army camouflage uniform, manning a gun on a heavily armoured vehicle.

“My wife and I both grew up in Melbourne. We were around old friends and family once more,” he said. “I had ambition within the Army that would see me taken away from Melbourne again for a long period of time so I chose to separate to put family first.”

He brings this personal understanding of the military experience to his work as an advocate for veterans’ employment. Over the past eight years, Glen has engaged with businesses from industries across Australia, establishing comprehensive networks and working tirelessly to raise awareness of the skills and qualities that veterans bring, while also directly helping veterans to understand their own value post transition.

Glen’s transition in 2008 started off rocky. He took his uniform off on a Friday and the following Monday morning he was in a suit on the job hunt. Glen had been applying for jobs while serving and worked to line up a discharge date with potential employment.

“I had one particular interview that started poorly and the interviewer recognised I was in way over my head. She made a decision to cease the interview and instead gave me some coaching on how to perform better next time around,” he said.

“I was so grateful for this and I think that act of empathy and kindness helped me realise early that civilians are actually 'ok’.”

In his first role on transition, Glen lead a small project team on a Land Rover ILS program, and his leadership style was adapted to meet the office environment. He implemented simple tactics such as lunch time walks and ensuring all staff had each other’s contact information if support was required. Glen says these small changes contributed to increased productivity within the team.

“I was able to use technical skills I learned working on land rover vehicles in my first role as a Project Leader on an ILS program however I soon learned it was my leadership and ability to form trusted relationships with others that would be of more value to my civilian career,” Glen said.

“Throughout my career though, it's been leadership, communication and the forming of relationships that has been of most help to me.”

Through this and other employment, Glen found he had a knack for relationship building, and in 2012 explored these avenues through establishing his business Ironside Recruitment. Glen and his team provide placement services for ex-defence members across the country in most major industries, with a focus on mining and defence. The team spend a lot time engaging with clients and industry partners, looking for opportunities that are most relevant to skills trained in the Australian Defence Force.

“Even some four years after my own discharge, there remained a huge gap between Defence and the private sector, so I thought I could do something about that with a few years of industry experience and network under my belt,” he said.

Glen describes his work at Ironside as his sense of purpose post-Defence.

Glen Ferrarotto smiling in a charcoal-coloured suit and plum-coloured tie.

“So selfishly, I keep doing this because it provides me with a purpose to get out of bed and come to work every day,” Glen said. “And that purpose is being able to connect the country's best men and women with industries that are starving of skills and attributes that our veterans bring.”

It’s a purpose Glen hopes to continue well into the future — advising and guiding veterans in their transition and supporting entrepreneurs establish their businesses. Glen advises transitioning personnel to link up with their Defence Community Organisation and access their professional support and advice prior to leaving the forces. They’ll even help those who have already transitioned, but need a little help in making it a successful move.

“This is your future and the way you behave during your transition will set the path for your new career. If you play the victim and expect things to be handed to you, your career will represent that,” Glen said.

“If you hold your head up high and be proud of your service and the skills and experiences you've now got, then conversely, your career will represent that. Take risks, punch high and don't be afraid or surprised to fall down a few pegs.”

Glen’s dedication to veterans continues beyond employment support — he currently holds a position on the RSL Victoria State Executive Board, is Vice President of the Veterans Film Festival and Chair of the RSL Victoria Philanthropic Council — positions he is proud of, and hopes help others realise you are not limited by your rank outside of Defence.

Glen’s parting words to transitioning personnel are simple — use your network, including LinkedIn, to make people aware you're considering a change.

“Remember 60 per cent of the job market is hidden, meaning those roles are not advertised, so your network remains your greatest asset in securing a new career,” he said.

“Just always look back on your service and remember who you were when you were wearing that uniform. That person is still there and even if you've been kicked around a bit 'out-here', you still have that fighting spirit inside you that you may just need to go back and find every now and then.”