Former chief executive of the Defence Materiel Organisation Warren King has formed a strategic partnership with Canberra and Washington-based strategic advisory consultancy CMAX Advisory.
King, CEO DMO from mid 2011 to early 2015, will join with CMAX as special counsel, working with managing partner Christian Taubenschlag to lead the consultancy’s defence services, specialising in defence policy and procurement.
“People are saying ‘are you going to industry?’ No I’m going back to industry. I was in industry for 20 years,” King said in a recent interview.
“I think I had a good 10 years in the Department and I enjoyed it, but my natural habitat is industry.”
King’s near 50 years of working in defence included a 20 year career in the Royal Australian Navy and two decades in defence industry ahead of joining the DMO, which at the time of his retirement had 6,500 staff, was managing over 180 major projects with an average budget of just under half a billion dollars each, and supported and sustained defence equipment worth over $40 billion.
Explains Taubenschlag: “CMAX has always been very successful at government engagement, strategic communications and assisting Australian and international businesses to understand the Australian acquisition landscape once it comes into the decision making process. However, what Warren and I will also be focusing on is what happens at the beginning of that process. How do international businesses identify the opportunities that are coming down the pipeline early enough to undertake preparatory work before they even think about developing a tender response?”
The partnership between CMAX and the former DMO head will allow them to fill a “niche in the market”, says Taubenschlag.
“Defence businesses have always gone to people who help with tenders, people to help with communications, people to help with advertising, people to help with departmental and parliamentary engagement and processes. That should be under one umbrella, there is no reason to go to five or six different companies, what that really requires is a holistic, integrated strategic approach.”
King’s says his depth of experience of the Australian acquisition system will allow CMAX to offer that holistic approach.
“I saw a lot offerings that were immature and not complete, and they could have been, but the companies were struggling to work out how to make a complete offer. Where we think we can add a lot is to help them make that complete offer in a very effective way.”
Continues King: “Companies need to know what support systems they need in place – the training, technical documentation, supply chain management, in service support which will work for Australia.”
King and CMAX plan to offer services to companies with existing presences in Australia and to new entrants to the Australian defence market.
“Some existing defence companies in Australia will need to re-jig their approach to the market with changes evolving from the First Principles Review. Several of them will need to rethink their strategies and we’ll be able to help there,” says King.
“But I think we’ll also be able to help second tier companies that can’t effectively operate a large footprint in Australia but do have products to sell, we’ll be able to help them directly with our own skillsets but also bring them together with other Australian companies to help provide the raft of support that they’ll need.”
Another opportunity, says Taubenschlag, is working with defence companies to help them understand the political considerations influencing Australian acquisition decisions.
“When businesses are trying to identify what Australia needs, what the Department needs, it doesn’t just come down to the technical requirement or cost, there are a whole range of variables that the Commonwealth will be looking at. How does business adapt to that, how does business know what that holistic offering needs to be if it is not just going to be a technical or cost solution that the Commonwealth is looking for?”
Both King and Taubenschlag are enthusiastic about the range of opportunities for their new partnership.
Says King: “I’m looking to join forces with Christian and CMAX to build a business through delivering outcomes to other businesses.”