Life On The Job


Mona Shindy (1968 - ) retired-Navy Officer,  Organisational Leader (MComm), Engineering Executive (BE(Elec) Hons, Certified Practicing Project Director, GAICD, Cultural Advisor

Mona Shindy
(Source: Wisconsin Muslim Journal)

Introduction

Captain Mona Shindy was born in Egypt in 1968 and migrated to Australia with her family at the age of three and settled in the beach suburb of Maroubra, in Sydney. Her father sadly passed away when she was only 14, so Mona got to see her Mum raise 4 children on her own. “She is a strong lady and she gave us the right steer, looked after us and got us through university. It wasn’t easy because we had no other family in Australia and we were quite isolated.”

That situation made her focus on her studies and allow her to achieve the success she has today. Mona now has 3 children of her own, and went into the Navy after following in her older brother’s steps.

Her 32 year Royal Australian Navy career saw her serve on a number of the nation’s most technologically advanced warships which took her to all corners of the world.

She saw active service at the commencement of the IRAQ conflict in 2003. Utilising her extensive array of leadership, technical, change management and business competencies she has led many organisations through significant business and cultural reforms.

Captain Mona Shindy was the Australian Navy’s first Hijab-wearing Muslim captain. She was a Navy Weapons Electrical Engineer and the Chief of Navy’s Strategic Adviser on Islamic Cultural Affairs. Along with her aforementioned roles as well as being the Director of Littoral Warfare and Maritime Support for the Royal Australian Navy, Mona says her job as the Strategic Adviser on Islamic Cultural Affairs is an important one especially when it comes to communication and cooperation with Muslim allies.

It is about bridging the understanding gap between the various communities. I am surprised when I brief my colleagues at how much they enjoy learning about Islam,” she said. Captain Shindy explained how this work helps to improve Defence capability. Captain Shindy worked to help create a better understanding among Defence members of the Islamic faith, traditions and cultural sensitivities.

It gives our people, particularly when working with our close Muslim-allied navies, a better understanding and appreciation of serving Muslims, their needs and how they view the world’, she said.

Another key function of the role is to increase the appeal of the Navy as an employer of choice among the Australian Muslim community. A member of a large, culturally diverse extended family, and involved in many community and school mentoring programs, Captain Shindy was determined to motivate and inspire others, and is passionate about encouraging more Muslims to think about the ADF and the Navy as a career.

Muslim women in the Australian Navy have only been allowed to wear the Hijab since 2013, when the Vice chief of defence force, Vice Admiral Ray Griggs, who also appointed Captain Shindy as the cultural adviser, recognized the need for diversity and inclusiveness.

Looking at newspaper
(Source: Winconsin Muslim Journal)

Education

Captain Shindy joined the RAN in 1989 as an undergraduate engineer. She holds a Bachelor of Electrical Engineering (Hons) and a Masters of Commerce (Advanced Major in Organisation and Management Studies) from the University of New South Wales.

In 2016 at the Australian Defence College she completed a Masters in Politics and Policy. This builds on previous training in a number of disciplines. She holds qualifications as an Electrical Engineer and Masters of Commerce, She also has a Diploma in Export Management, is a chartered professional engineer and Engineering Executive as a Fellow with the Institute of Engineers Australia.

She is recognised as a Certified Practicing Project Director with AIPM and is a Graduate of the Australian Institute of Company Directors.

Career

Mona assumed significant responsibilities, in challenging financial and cultural circumstances from her early teenage years. As the daughter of first generation immigrants, that tumultuous life crisis, forced her to develop resiliance and strong self motivation just to survive. It taught her to be humble and thankful for all the blessings she had in her life and not to get too disappointed or worked up about any life setbacks. It taught her to reflect on other people’s challenges and to be empathetic when trying to decipher or understand the reasons behind human behaviour. It focussed Mona on living her life in a very deliberate way, making the most of it, enjoying the simple things and remaining true to her beliefs in relation to the purpose of life and the journeys yet to be taken after death.

"In watching both my parents courageously navigate unfamiliar experiences as new migrants, I learned to really understand how people are layered. How the outward image people project hardly ever shows the true treasures hidden beneath the surface. That knowledge, is what gives me the interest in unlocking the hidden talents in others, respecting all contributions and finding ways to allow all people to shine, irrespective of difference."

When Captain Mona Shindy climbed aboard HMAS Canberra to test missiles in the Pacific, a locker had to be converted into a sleeping quarters to accommodate her.

Never before had an active Australian warship carried women. But aged 23 and launching what would become a 26-year career with the Navy, this was just the first hurdle of a trailblazer. Then came the challenge of Ramadan, and explaining as a young sublieutenant that she was fasting and would appreciate a meal being put aside for her.

The response was along the lines of: “You’ll eat with everyone else, or you just won’t.” Which left her “the middle of the ocean with a few cans of tuna”. Once the right ranking officer was made aware of the problem, a solution was soon found.

She said her career has exposed her to a broad range of technologies and experiences in and around the Defence Materiel Organisation. She has seen everything from active service at the start of the 2003 Iraq War to shore positions involving overseeing myriad complex programs.

Through many missions on warships she has travelled the world. She saw active service in 2003. She led organisations performing complex project and contract management, combat system design and operational test and evaluation. She represented Defence in Washington DC on the Australian Air Warfare Destroyer Program.

at award ceremony
At Award Ceremony

As the Adelaide Frigate System Program Office Director (FFGSPOD) Captain Shindy drove major cultural/organisational reforms establishing and implementing performance based contracts. Concurrently she became Chief of Navy’s Strategic Adviser on Islamic Cultural Affairs (CNSAICA) in 2013 receiving a Conspicuous Service Cross for work in this capacity in the 2015 Australia Day Honours. In 2015 I was Runner Up for NSW Woman of the year and the NSW Telstra Business Woman of the year also. In 2016, she presented business cases to Government for acquisition of future Defence assets including, Patrol Boats, Tankers, and Littoral Warfare equipment.

‘As a mother, I would like to think I am helping to create a future for my children where they feel understood, included, and respected’, she said.

As Director Littoral Warfare and Maritime Support, Captain Shindy advised the Government on the best way to spend billions of dollars on replacement tankers, ships, patrol boats — almost everything except submarines.

She was previously charged with turning around the Fast Frigate System Program Office, from an inefficient organisation with adversarial stakeholder relationships, to a collaborative culture with performance-based contracts. And she shaved 30 per cent in costs from a $130 million budget.

People were happy at the end of the tenure, ships were leaving the wharf on time with all the maintenance done, when initially they weren’t.

Soon after her first tour of duty on HMAS Canberra, Captain Shindy married and had a daughter, and a son. She had another daughter a decade later.

The job has required service on ships for two-year durations, with time away ranging from two to six months.

But six months in anyone’s language for a mother with two young children and a young family, is a very significant sacrifice. “I’m not going to dress it up. It was tough.”

It could not have happened without an extended family backing her up. Crucial were her mother — “who in many ways acted as a pseudo mother for my children sometimes when I was away” — and husband, who has taken many career breaks.

Captain Shindy said that, although there have been challenges, the ADF and the Navy are well positioned to improve cultural sensitivity. She said she was honoured to be working with the Chief of Navy and Defence on this critical issue.

In 2013, Captain Shindy participated in the Community Relations Commission’s outreach to the International Fleet Review. She was also instrumental in the establishment of an Australian Navy Cadet Unit, comprising many culturally diverse groups, in western Sydney.

The new cadet unit highlights the wonderful way in which the RAN gives back to the community, enriching and enhancing the lives of young Australians’, she said.

Through the Australian Navy Cadets Youth Development Program, teenagers are given great skills for life. I feel privileged to be involved with this and I am excited for the current and future youth of western Sydney.’

Head of the Guided Missile Frigate System Program Office  (FFGSPO), Captain Mona Shindy, was also the Chief of Navy’s appointed Strategic Adviser on Islamic Cultural Affairs and accepted the position in March 2013

 

Since retiring from the Navy, she has recently commenced a new career chapter as a strategic leadership and management consultant, author, international keynote speaker and mentor.

Did You Know?

in office

Tell us a bit about yourself.

I am a Captain in the Navy with 26years service. I hold a BE(Electrical)(Hons)UNSW, Masters of Commerce(UNSW), am a Chartered Professional Engineer , Graduate of the Australian Institute of Company Directors and a Certified Practicing Project Director . Through many missions on warships I have travelled the world. I saw active service in 2003. I have led organisations performing complex project and contract management, combat system design and operational test and evaluation. I represented Defence in Washington DC on the Australian Air Warfare Destroyer Program.

As the Adelaide Frigate System Program Office Director (FFGSPOD) I drove major cultural/organisational reforms establishing and implementing performance based contracts. Concurrently I became Chief of Navy’s Strategic Adviser on Islamic Cultural Affairs (CNSAICA) in 2013 receiving a Conspicuous Service Cross for work in this capacity in the 2015 Australia Day Honours. In 2015 I was Runner Up for NSW Woman of the year and the NSW Telstra Business Woman of the year also. Today I present business cases to Government for acquisition of future Defence assets including, Patrol Boats, Tankers, and Littoral Warfare equipment.

Tell us 3 things you are and 3 things you’re not.

I am a mother, a champion for necessary change and an astute business woman and leader.

I am not a token pin up girl, a seeker of attention or someone easily discouraged.

Complete this sentence, ____________________ changed my life. How and why?

The early passing of my father changed my life.

I assumed significant responsibilities, in challenging financial and cultural circumstances from my early teenage years. As the daughter of first generation immigrants, that tumultuous life crisis, forced me to develop resiliance and strong self motivation just to survive. It taught me to be humble and thankful for all the blessings I have in my life and not to get too disappointed or worked up about any life setbacks. It taught me to reflect on other people’s challenges and to be empathetic when trying to decipher or understand the reasons behind human behaviour. It focussed me on living my life in a very deliberate way, making the most of it, enjoying the simple things and remaining true to my beliefs in relation to the purpose of life and our journeys yet to be taken after death.

In watching both my parents courageously navigate unfamiliar experiences as new migrants, I learned to really understand how people are layered. How the outward image people project hardly ever shows the true treasures hidden beneath the surface. That knowledge, is what gives me the interest in unlocking the hidden talents in others, respecting all contributions and finding ways to allow all people to shine, irrespective of difference.


What has been life’s greatest lesson?


To always keep things in perspective. To remain focussed on the big picture and to live life in such a way as to contribute positively and enthusiastically in all that you pursue. Life is very short with only a finite time to influence the world for the better. Don’t waste a minute.

What is your biggest achievement?

My biggest career achievement was transforming my last organisation from one that was wasteful, adversarial with industry and that regularly failed in delivering ships out of long-term maintenance on time and budget to one that was trusted to deliver.

When I assumed directorship of the organisation, there was a culture of blame and a reluctance in people to take on responsibility. One particular contract with industry was not delivering expected outcomes and the relationship between my direct staff and this contractor was extremely adversarial. This repeatedly resulted in ships being delivered back to the Navy out of “maintenance periods” late, risking Navy’s ability to meet Government tasking. Further, ship repair contracts were being contested on every occasion a ship entered long-term maintenance which created an industry culture where companies bid low to secure work and then looked for every opportunity to create growth work. This often blew-out project budgets and result in schedule delays.

I addressed these problems in an environment where Government was demanding savings from Defence and placing a complete freeze on recruitment. I led transformational cultural reform necessitating behavioural changes in my direct staff, contracted staff and contract and organisational structures.

I confirmed pervious learning about the importance of vision, respect and trust for others and communication in effecting lasting change. In setting a clear, effectively communicated organisational vision, leadership by example, goal setting and performance expectation discussions and agreements , open dialogue with industry to understand challenges and constraints, a series of partnering workshops and the development of revised performance based, long-term contracts giving industry more work certainty, the organisational results were transformed for both my Government entity and the industry players.

The last 18months of my leadership saw every ship complete maintenance on time and budget (achieving all Government activities), performance based contracts delivering collaborative teamwork behaviours in contrast to previous adversarial transactional and wasteful dealings. All stakeholders succeeded and I was also able to return a significant portion of my organisation’s traditional budget back to the overall Defence portfolio to be reallocated to areas in need.

Speaking

What has been your toughest obstacle and how have you overcome it?

I think as most migrants would have experienced, the challenge of working out how to fit into Australian society as part of a minority group, while remaining true to self; ie in terms of spiritual beliefs, values and traditions has really been an ongoing challenge throughout my whole life. That challenge however is not insurmountable. Communication, leading by example and education through engagement with others are the keys to breaking down barriers, creating cohesion and achieving better understanding and respect for all within our society.

Viktor Frankl says “Those who have a ‘why’ to live, can bear with almost any ‘how.” Everyone needs a purpose, what’s yours?

My purpose is doing positive things both professionally and personally for the betterment of society and all people. I believe in equity, ethical practice, compassion for others and giving back through professional mentoring and community service.

I want people to be true to themselves, without fear or discrimination. To be respected for their varying views and contributions. I believe cohesive, inclusive and respectful work and social frameworks allow people to give their best and be their best.

What are your words to live by?

Always be true to self.

If you could have any mentor, alive or dead, who would you choose and why?

My mother. Loving, intelligent, courageous, dignified, compassionate and selfless. Simply beautiful.

If you could play hookie for a day what would be on your list to do?

Try some exotic food, go to the theatre and just relax on the beach with family catching up on news in their lives.

You give so much to others, what do you do to take care of yourself?

Sport, travel, chilling with loved ones, reading and learning new things.
(Source: The Annoyed Thyroid 18/12/2015)

Awards

She was awarded a Conspicuous Service Cross in 2015 in that year’s Australia Day honours for contributions to cultural and business reform initiatives she championed for Defence.

Her career achievements as well as her considerable community service activities were recognised when she was named the 2015 National Telstra Business Woman of the Year.



Links

Department of Defence - Feature Profile: Captain Mona Shindy, RAN

DoD


Mona Shindy Consulting

Website
Navy Daily 23 July 2013

Navy Daily



YouTube: Captain Mona Shindy - Affinity’s Friendship and Dialogue Ramadan Iftar Dinner 2017
https://youtu.be/QVhToegFYHk



YouTube: 2015 Telstra NSW Business Woman of the Year Award Winner - Mona Shindy
https://youtu.be/mt7q_cRW_s4 

 

YouTube: Aspire Role Models Biography - Mona Shindy
https://youtu.be/nSvtr5QdpRo

YouTube: 2015 Telstra Business Woman of the Year - Australian Navy Captain Mona Shindy
https://youtu.be/osqvgai1aQg


Did You Know?

If we go back in time, women were first authorized to join the Navy on 21 April 1941 – mostly due to WWII – and the birth of Women’s Royal Australian Naval Service [WRANS] ensued (which was eventually incorporated into the Permanent Naval Forces in 1984 (Argirides A, 2005).

WRANS
Telegraphist ratings of the Women's Royal Australian Naval Service (WRANS) equipped with gas respirators during World War II.

at work
During World War II the WRANS provided valuable service ashore in a broad range of occupations including catering and communications to name just a few.


However, service was often cut short; between 1941 – 1968 it was compulsory for women to leave the Navy after marriage.

Historically, the typical functions permitted to serving women were generally administration / communications, medical, law and recruitment and training; women were not permitted to serve at sea or overseas until 1985, with combat roles only being permitted in the early 1990s.
(Source: INDVSTRVS 2020)

YouTube: Women in the Navy [15m]
https://youtu.be/v3cbVywPMo8



This video was produced in the 1950's and offers a unique insight into the embryonic Women's Royal Australian Naval Service (WRANS).
Much has changed since then and today women are employed across the length and breadth of the Royal Australian Navy in a wide variety of roles both at sea and ashore.


 

Activities

Tweets and Government Employees: Why is it not allowed? A Community of Inquiry

PrimaryPrimary MiddleMiddle  High SchoolSecondary

Ethical Understanding Australian Curriculum General Capability: Ethical Understanding

LiteracyAustralian Curriculum General Capability: Literacy

CriticalAustralian Curriculum General Capability: Critical and creative thinking
Personal and social capability
Australian Curriculum General Capability: Personal and social capability

Intercultural UnderstandingAustralian Curriculum General Capability: Intercultural Understanding

PhilosophyPhilosophy

 

 

As a class, you are going to conduct a Community of Inquiry [CoI] using an article from The Daily Telegraph 5 January 2016 as the stimulus material.

 

 TeacherTeacher Process:

1. Get the students to form a circle with their chairs or directly on the floor. Everyone is to be in the circle including the Teacher.

2. Using stimulus material, read the story or text by asking the students to take turns to read out loud each paragraph.  

3. Set up a Question Quadrant on the floor or on a whiteboard:

Question Quadrant

4. Get the students, in pairs, to come up with 4 questions - one for each quadrant about the stimulus material.

The Questions for Thinking are the hardest to come up with – but that is what we are aiming for.

5. List all the questions on the board from this 4th Quadrant "Questions for Thinking" and put the students' names next to their question.

6. Ask the students to think about grouping the questions - the ones that are the same or similar - together.

7. Start the discussion with the most asked question.

8. Make sure the students follow the rules of Philosophy in Schools:

  • Only one person speaks at a time
  • Pay attention to the person who is speaking
  • Give other people a chance to speak
  • Build upon other people's ideas
  • No put-downs
    (Source: Associate Prof. Phil Cam)

9. Discussion should involve students in critical, creative and caring thinking:

Critical Creative Caring
give reasons
explore
disagreement
consider implications
apply criteria
weigh evidence
generate questions
raise suggestions
imagine alternatives
formulate criteria
make connections
build on ideas
listen to other's points of view
consider other's reasons
explore disagreements considerately
build on other's ideas
explore other's opinions
help to synthesise suggestions
 

10. Provide Closure and leave the questions on the board or copy them so that the other unanswered questions can be used in the next lessons.

 

 

Community of Inquiry

Let's begin the Community of Inquiry: read the following newspaper article as a class. This article is the stimulus material.

 

Headline: Muslim RAN Captain Mona Shindy broadsided after terror tweet row

Daily Telegraph


A SENIOR female Muslim navy officer has had her twitter account shut down after it posted tweets on Islamic terrorism that appear at odds with government policy.

Captain Mona Shindy, the Chief of Navy’s strategic adviser on Islamic affairs, was believed to run the account @navyislamic which retweeted a counter-terrorism expert mocking Tony Abbott after the leadership coup.

The social media account had also backed Grand Mufti Ibrahim Abu Mohamed’s controversial response to the Paris terrorist attacks, tweeting the hashtag #IStandWithTheMufti.


Captain Shindy, who won the Telstra NSW Businesswoman of the Year last year, had also called for the word “Islam” to be removed from reporting on Islamic state in a policy talk.

Her twitter account, which described itself as the “Official Royal Australian Navy Islamic Advisor Twitter account”, vanished shortly before Christmas following complaints.

Captain Shindy had retweeted counter-terrorism expert Anne Aly, who had tweeted on the night of the leadership change: “Wait. Did our new PM just give a speech and not mention boats, death cult, security, death cult, terrorism, national security and death cult?”

Captain Shindy has stated it was her aim to encourage more Muslims to join the defence force, as about 100 of the 45000 defence force personnel identify as Muslim, 27 of them in the Navy.

But a row erupted when she used the account to enter the political fray, and attacked a new Queensland-based political party called the Australian Liberty Alliance, launched by Dutch politician Geert Wilders.

“Real shame to see these extreme ill informed fringe groups threatening #community #cohesion. #auspol #teamhumanrace” the tweet from October 22 stated.



A Defence Department spokesman told The Australian newspaper: “Navy has consolidated its social media platforms to achieve a ‘single source’ so as to strengthen its messaging in synch with its support to traditional media.”


Captain Shindy was 2015 Telstra NSW Businesswoman of the Year

Captain Shindy has worked for the navy for 26 years and is the head of its Guided Missile Frigate Program.

Defence policy usually bans political statements from defence personnel in their official capacity.

In a talk to the Royal United Services Institute of NSW in March last year, Captain Shindy accused the media of “fearmongering”, stating there was no connection between the terror group and religion.

She also raised the issue of a “double standard” over the issue of the occupied territories of Israel, comparing with the world’s “willingness to take prompt and decisive action against other nations such as Iraq”.

“The extremist behaviour of groups purporting to be Muslims has been overplayed by the media for years constantly linking terrorist behaviours to Islam, e.g. use of the description ‘Islamist’, rather than separatist or militant,” she said.

“It is also important that, in the public rhetoric, terrorism and Islam are de-linked. “Constant negative media reporting on apparent Muslim behaviour provides ammunition for terrorist recruiters enabling them to convince impressionable Muslims that there is an agenda against them and their religion — again, supporting a call for armed jihad.

“Indeed, the word ‘Islam’ needs to be removed from reporting on ISIS/ISIL or Daesh. “The barbaric nature and ideology of these groups has nothing to do with Islam and we should work to limit their appeal to vulnerable Muslims, preventing the use and advertising of ‘Islam’ in their name.”
(Source: Daily Telegraph)

 

 

 

 

Material sourced from
Linkedin

Wisconsin Muslim Journal
Department of Defence [Annual Report 13 - 14; ]
The Daily Telegraph

The Annoyed Thyroid
Science Meets Business

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