As the story goes, army veteran Tom Moore hatched the idea for WithYouWithMe (WYWM) – a veteran education and employment tech company – when he was attempting to transition back into the civilian workforce but not having any success.
Tom spent eight years in the Australian Army. He served one tour of duty in Afghanistan during this time, before being formally medically discharged in 2016. Afterwards, he became disillusioned with the murky process of finding a fulfilling career when embarking on life after service.
“Eventually, when he decided to leave the army, he found he couldn’t get a job,” according to WYWM chief technology officer Scarlett McDermott, who said Tom and his fellow veterans weren’t taken seriously as candidates for civilian roles, with “lack of experience” often cited as the reason.
WithYouWithMe is a finalist in the 2022 InnovationAus Awards for Excellence in the Defence and Defence-related Capability category to be awarded at a Black Tie gala on November 17.
“He did hundreds of interviews and applications and resumes and was even told at one point that he was under qualified to be a security guard, even though he’d been the close protection officer for the Prime Minister in a war zone,” Ms McDermott said.
While disheartened, Mr Moore knew he wasn’t alone. His army colleagues were also struggling to find meaningful employment and were even pushed to the edge of mental health and self-harm.
And so, he set out to help solve the problem, along with co-founding partners Luke Rix, Tom Larter, and Sam Baynes.
“We knew mates working as labourers, in bars or mines, and they were all really unhappy, so we launched WithYouWithMe to solve veteran underemployment,” Mr Moore said.
“It wasn’t only veterans who found it hard to enter a murkier and murkier workforce. People graduate with degrees and become depressed because they can’t find the right job,” he said. “The other co-founders and I decided to focus on the supply-and-demand problem of skills the market wants.”
Today, the crew is on a mission to train and upskill 50,000 veterans for free in new, in-demand tech careers like cyber security, data analytics, DevOps, robotics and IT management.
In fact, they want to “harness potential, not experience,” and have created an intuitive and customisable software platform – dubbed Potential – that not only discovers talent, but also trains that talent, deploys it, and helps it grow through additional career development opportunities.
The digital platform tech – which incorporates AI-driven aptitude and personality testing to match people with jobs – connects elements of the traditional HR and recruitment systems. Additionally, the Job Matching algorithm streamlines recruitment by focusing on hiring efficiency, jobs, projects, and teams.
“We focus on Human Asset Creation, which means that we consider people to be assets instead of capital. If you have the capabilities and personality for a specific career, we will teach you everything you need to know to do it well,” Mr Moore said, who credits ongoing training and aptitude testing for what made him a good soldier.
Through the SaaS platform, jobseekers complete free skills and aptitude testing to discover hidden strengths. Based on the results, WYWM suggests careers they’d be a great match for, and offers no-cost training to land a role in tech.
“We have designed a workforce technology platform – Potential – that reinvents the recruitment model and brings its disconnected parts together. This reverses the process of job searching for jobseekers. The jobs come to the seeker versus the job seeker finding and clicking on a job application,” he said.
What’s more, the data-led platform is also ideal for veterans and reservists seeking to modernise the armed forces, Mr Moore explained.
“Potential provides the Australian Defence Force (ADF), the Five Eyes (FVEY) network, and private sector companies priority access to a diverse pool of talented workers: veterans, temporary workers, and other skilled employees. This enables our associated partners to diversify their staff’s knowledge and skills while establishing a long-term network enabling effective scalability.”
The company has now expanded across Canada, the UK, and the US with 400 employees on four continents and works with various government agencies and global businesses to address both the digital skills gap and its negative effects on society.
For Mr Moore, the mission is simple: “The more you understand people’s strengths, the better you can allocate suitable tasks, at the right time.
“And it’s only right that we protect those who protected us as they transition into new careers. Our software – Potential – takes someone from being a human resource to an asset; when it comes to veterans, the principle then and now is to ‘do the right thing for those who have served their country.’”
Tapping into overlooked talent pools
Certainly, the company also quickly discovered there was a need for this technology platform outside of the military world, according to Ms McDermott.
“Being a veteran-founded organisation, veterans were initially the core demographic, but WYWM has subsequently grown to include military spouses and their families, neurodivergent individuals, immigrants, and indigenous people,” she said.
“We want to assist as many people as possible in finding employment in the IT industry,” she said, explaining it has expanded to other social impact groups including women in tech.
The 2022 InnovationAus Awards – which celebrates excellence in the translation of Australian research into commercial and social impact outcomes – will be held in Sydney at Barangaroo’s The Cutaway on November 17. You can reserve your seat – or book a table – by clicking here.
Do you know more? Contact James Riley via Email.