Just call me The Boss

5 July 2004

Lieutenant Colonel Bernadette Boss has become the first female commanding officer of the Sydney University Regiment in its 104 year history.

A reserve soldier for almost 20 years, Lt Col Boss (below right) said she found it "pretty daunting" to be appointed the regiment's first female commander. But she is used to pressure: outside the regiment she is a practising barrister and recently submitted her PhD thesis to the University.

Lieutenant Colonel Bernadette Boss
Lieutenant Colonel Bernadette Boss

She joined the British Territorial Army in 1985 and later served with both the Australian Regular Army and Army Reserve after moving to Australia in 1993. She saw operational service in East Timor and on Christmas Island in response to the Tampa Crisis.

Not only is she certified to practise law, but she also received her qualification as a registered nurse in 1985 and a diploma in ophthalmic nursing in 1987.

While appreciating the proud history of the regiment, Lt Col Boss wasted no time in introducing reforms. Her first action in office was to implement the Military Appreciation Process, gathering staff to analyse what the regiment was doing, why it was doing it, and how it could be done better.

A number of changes followed: the regiment now has instructors who deliver training and company instructors who, within the traditional chain of command, deal with discipline and other responsibilities.

"There was a bit of angst and concern about the changes initially," Lt Col Boss said. "But the staff now see the benefits. We all went through the process together so everyone has ownership."

Capt Clinton Seares agreed: "It is interesting to see how drastically a leader at the top can change our core business of cadet training," he said. "The changes have led to significant changes for the better."

With students making up half of her 111 cadets, Lt Col Boss is now interested in working on the relationship the regiment has with the University - and one of her priorities is to raise the profile of the regiment within the University.