From a military career to a senior operational leader at Aurizon
Kris Knott served for five years as an Officer in the British Army, commanding operations in Afghanistan, with post-tour deployments to East Africa and the Middle East. This year he made the leap to the rail industry, joining Australia’s largest rail freight business Aurizon.
Kris Knott’s journey from a military career in the British Army to a senior operational role with Australia’s largest rail freight business has been a big move but relatively seamless.
Kris has brought deep leadership experience and well-honed skillsets to his new role where he manages rail yards operations at Callemondah, Gladstone at the heart of Aurizon’s Central Queensland coal business.
“The military does a fantastic job of training and developing its personnel to exceed across a broad range of skillsets that Aurizon covets,’ Kris said. “In my time with Aurizon, I have already had the opportunity to utilise strategy, planning, problem-solving, leadership, negotiation and people management skills, all of which were forged in the military."
Aurizon is honoured to have a number of returned servicemen and women in our workforce, recognizing that veterans bring a variety of unique and transferable skills and experience to our business, particularly in roles such as maintenance, supply chain and operations, engineering and leadership.
At Aurizon, Kris’ role is focused on leading the team responsible for managing rail yard operations at one of our largest facilities in Central Queensland. This operation is vital to delivering safe, reliable services for our coal customers.
Kris acknowledged there may be an initial absence of industry-specific technical knowledge for those transitioning from a military career, but there are ample opportunities to add value through his understanding of strategy, risk management and how to operationalise and execute plans.
The supportive local team at Aurizon helped him quickly fill the gaps in his rail knowledge and the needs of the customer base being served by the business.
“We have a brilliant and diverse cadre of leaders, planners, coordinators and freight operators, who work tirelessly to ensure that we execute plans safely and on time in support of our customer portfolio in Central Queensland,” he said.
“Come into the industry with an open mind and be prepared to work hard to fill the technical gaps in rail specific knowledge. In addition, some form of further business education would also really help bridge the public/commercial sector divide and would only enhance the value proposition for veterans. Outside of this, stay true to the values and standards that underpin military organisations and continue to always put the mission and your people before self.”
When asked what he most enjoys about his job and working at Aurizon, Kris was very clear: “People. Organisations cannot sustain excellence without looking after their employees and I have really enjoyed working with such a capable and diverse cohort at Aurizon’s Callemondah Depot,” he said.
“I have met colleagues that have driven trains in the jungles of Sierra Leone, through to new recruits that have spent time horse breaking in the Northern Territory. This range of experience within our teams is a real bonus from a leadership perspective, as it provides the opportunity to attack problems from different angles.
“I am always looking to find areas where our team can outcompete rivals and having this assortment of skills and experience encourages innovative thinking, which often results in novel solutions to some of our more complex problems.”
There are great professional opportunities for veterans or serving members who are considering a career in the rail industry. If this is you, please express your interest to attend one of our information sessions in Queensland.