I’m here today with Rear Admiral Adam Grunsell from the Royal Australian Navy.
The Admiral is one of the key note speakers at the upcoming AMPEAK conference next week in Adelaide.
Welcome Admiral and thank you for taking some time to chat to the Asset Management Council today.
We are very excited that you are a key note speaker at AMPEAK for many reasons but in particular because of your incredibly impressive and fascinating navel career and, of course, the complex and intensive work you do in the area of asset management.
Q1. Can you tell us a bit about this work and what will feature as part of your presentation at the conference?
Within Defence, there are nine Groups that provide support to the Army, Navy and RAAF. These groups include the Strategic Policy & Intelligence, CFO, CIO, Science and Technology, People, and Estate and Infrastructure. I belong to the Capability Acquisition and Sustainment Group and have responsibility for providing support for the Navy’s fleet of vessels, and other Specialist Military Equipment.
Most of that support is provided by Defence Industry and therefore ours is very much a contracting and contract management role.
One of the basics in good asset management is understanding your context and planning how to deliver value within that context. I am going to talk a bit about our context and how that has shaped our thinking on asset management. In particular, I will talk about our asset management framework, and how building relationships is fundamental to delivering support.
Q2. The work you are doing involves so many different stakeholders and is massive in scale, how do you effectively move such a large project forward?
You are right, there are a lot of stakeholders and a lot of moving parts. It’s a complex environment. But the scale does not change the principles of good management.
We still need to understand what is core business, and what is not. We need to understand our context, how that evolves over time, and how we respond to change. And, we still need to understand what value we are generating for our shareholders. Whether you are managing $20k or $20bn worth of assets, sound management practice and discipline should prevail.
Q3. As part of this project you built a custom IT system. Can you tell us a little bit about this and any tips on how to ensure a custom built system delivers for the organisation?
We have some standard enterprise systems supporting our business like maintenance and Inventory management systems. We have also added an application, based on the ThoughtWeb product, that we call the Interdependent Mission Management System, or IMMS for short.
IMMS is used to present a shared and dynamic view of risk to Navy and our own business units. IMMS captures key data and provides visibility of sustained risk reduction activity relating to achieving capability outcomes.
Like any tool, IMMS doesn’t replace the need for intellectual thought and creative problem resolution by our Commanders and Managers. So whilst we are pretty happy with the tool, this is about a shared view of the world and working together. Its an interdependent view and that message needs to be pretty clear.
Q4. In addition to what you have already said - What are some of the key lessons you have learn along the way?
The world is a very different place to what it was when I joined the Navy. We have lived through a technological explosion. Information is available to everyone, everywhere, at the touch of button. And, at times, we probably have too much information available to us too quickly.
Probably the best lesson learnt is to understand what information you need, and how timely that information needs to be. We can spin a whole organisation into an unnecessary frenzy if we get it wrong. Alternatively, no information is like sailing on a dark night without any charts or navigation aids.
We are constantly looking at our internal performance measures, and those of our suppliers. Being adaptable and maturing performance measures over time is extremely important in the modern world.
Q5. What additional challenges or opportunities do you have undertaking this type of work in a “government – defence” environment.
At face value you might think that working in a Public Sector environment is a whole bunch easier than cutting a profit and answering to shareholders. The truth is that our shareholders watch us very keenly and expect dividends. Those dividends are a little less obvious.
We are always looking for better ways to do business and drive efficiency into what we do. Some of the measures we use include cost per operating day, failure rates & corrective maintenance costs, and Maintenance Cost Growth. The latter being how much work we find after the ship has gone into maintenance. We’d prefer to know the scope before it goes in.
Q6. You have had a range of sea and shore postings in your career. Can you tell us a little bit about these and which ones have been most memorable?
Well, I joined the Royal Australian Navy in 1984 and completed my studies at the Australian Defence Force Academy in 1985-86. I have served on exchange with the United States Navy in Jacksonville, Florida providing logistics support to ships and bases in South East USA. I was also the Maritime Logistics Officer on the submarine base, HMAS Platypus, servicing Australia’s submarine squadron. Both these postings provided invaluable experience in logistics management that has held me in good stead throughout my career. I was also the inaugural Maritime Logistics Officer on HMAS Arunta.
Q6. What has been the highlight of your naval career?
Obviously being part of ship’s company is a highlight for any Naval officer. As I said earlier, I was very fortunate to be the Maritime Logistics Officer on HMAS Arunta, an ANZAC Class Frigate, when she was commissioned. The sense of achievement you get from leading a department as part of a well drilled team, and meeting operational readiness, is quite something.
Thank you again so much for your time Rear Admiral Grunsell.
Make sure you register today to attend the AMPEAK conference and you will get to see Rear Admiral Grunsell in person as one the key note speakers.
We look forward to seeing you all there.
REAR ADMIRAL ADAM GRUNSELL AM, CSC RAN
Rear Admiral Adam Grunsell joined the Royal Australian Navy in 1984 and undertook his initial Bachelor of Arts studies at the Naval College before completing further study at HMAS WATSON and the Australian Defence Force Academy in 1985-86.
In 1987, he undertook initial Maritime Logistics Officer training at HMAS CERBERUS followed by a range of sea and shore postings. Between 1994-96, Rear Admiral Grunsell served on exchange with the United States Navy in Jacksonville, Florida providing logistics support to ships and bases in the South East United States of America. In 1997, Rear Admiral Grunsell served as the Supply Officer in the submarine base, HMAS PLATYPUS before joining the ANZAC Frigate HMAS ARUNTA as the Commissioning Maritime Logistics Officer. He remained in ARUNTA until 2000 when he assumed the role of Officer in Charge of Maritime Logistics Training for the RAN.
In 2001, Rear Admiral Grunsell completed the inaugural Australian Command and Staff Course graduating with a Masters in Management (Defence Studies) before assuming the position as J51-Plans in the Joint Logistics Command 2002-03. He subsequently served as the Deputy Training Authority Logistics in HMAS CERBERUS (2004-05) and was promoted to Captain in 2005 and appointed as the Director General Navy Communications and Coordination in Navy Headquarters (2005-07) where he was awarded a Conspicuous Service Cross (CSC) in the 2007 Australia Day Honours List. During 2007-08, Rear Admiral Grunsell attended the United States National Defense University in Washington DC graduating as a Distinguished Graduate of the Masters in Science in National Resource Strategy program.
Rear Admiral Grunsell served as Chief of Staff (Support) in Fleet Command 2008-09 before assuming the position of Director of the Amphibious and Afloat System Program Office between 2009-2011 to lead maintenance and engineering support of Navy’s amphibious and replenishment ships.
He was promoted to Commodore on 14 October 2011 and appointed as the Director General Maritime Support until 2014 and Director General Reform in Maritime Systems Division of the Capability Acquisition and Sustainment Group in 2015. He was recognised as a Member of the Order of Australia (AM) in the 2015 Queens Birthday Honours List for his efforts in maritime logistics and engineering and sustainment support of the RAN Fleet.
Rear Admiral Grunsell was promoted to his current rank on 9 December 2015 and is currently serving as the Head of Maritime Systems in Capability Acquisition and Sustainment Group responsible for the in service sustainment of all units of the RAN surface fleet. He lives in Sydney and has two young sons, Tom and Will and maintains a strong interest in nutritional science and personal fitness.