Peter Howman joined the military at the tender age of 16 in order to become a communications technician. After completing his apprenticeship, he went to university and earned a business degree, a computer science degree, and an MBA. He spent most of his early life in military housing, which ultimately led to his current position as Managing Director of Defence Housing Australia (DHA).

“I’ve experienced single living in, single living out, defence living on base, defence living off base, defence living in rental accommodation, as well as defence living in the first DHA location, and I experienced the reason why DHA was formed,” Peter explains. “DHA was formed because too many people were leaving the military—the houses weren’t good enough, and they couldn’t convince people to join the military for this reason.”

Peter has always recognised the social importance of housing for those in the military, particularly as personnel are posted to new locations quite frequently. However, the uprooting added strain on Peter’s family, so he joined the private sector, “I worked for Siemens Plessey, Rockwell Collins, the Boeing Company, Lockheed Martin, Hewlett Packard, and Thales. So all very hard-nosed: ‘Hit the numbers or your competitors will hit the numbers. Lose the work and they get the job’.

“DHA became a GBE [!government!] in 1992. It still had a lot of public service ethos to it and it was doing an okay job, but it didn’t have that hard-nosed commercial focus on the clients’ needs and hitting the numbers, so I was asked to come on board and shake the tree, which I’ve done.”