Taranaki Man Swaps Silicon Valley for Life in the Army

11 September 2018

Army Lieutenant Toby Jordan was looking for a career that offered variety, with structured career opportunities, when he turned his back on a job in Silicon Valley to join the New Zealand Army.

He had been working as a business strategy developer in California when he opted for military life.

“I had a good job with a company that had a flat hierarchy and I would have been in the same position for a long time,” he said. “The structure in the army appealed to me a lot more.”

After three years in the Army Lieutenant Jordan, 27, is now a platoon commander, leading 24 soldiers of 51 Aerial Delivery, part of the army’s 5th Movement Company, based at Linton Military Camp. 

His most recent role was leading his platoon building and loading pallets at Exercise Bullseye, a week-long airdrop accuracy competition based at Royal New Zealand Air Force (RNZAF) Base Ohakea involving the Royal Australian Air Force, Royal Canadian Air Force and RNZAF.

Born and raised in New Plymouth, Lieutenant Jordan graduated from New Plymouth Boys High in 2008 with NCEA Level 3 and did five years in the Territorials (5/7 RNZIR) while studying for a degree in science and geography from Victoria University in Wellington.

“I was looking for a break from university and joined the Territorials for the outdoor lifestyle and the chance to do different challenges, and not a civilian job,” he said. “I like teamwork and being part of a motivated group of people.”

After university he took a job as an advisor and analyst for a business strategy company in California’s Silicon Valley, but after six months decided that was not for him.

He returned to New Zealand and signed on with the Regular Army.

“I went through the Officer Selection Board at the end of 2015 and the Junior Officer Induction Course at the start of 2016, followed by a year on the Officer Commissioning Course at Waiouru Military Camp,” he said.

He became a Regular Force officer in December 2016 and was posted into 5th Movements Company – Royal NZ Army Logistic Regiment.

His Platoon builds and loads the pallets of equipment and supplies that are delivered from military aircraft such as C-130 Hercules, P-3 Orions and Royal New Zealand Air Force helicopters.

“I love the work – it’s very busy and there’s lots of job satisfaction seeing pallets we have loaded being dropped from the planes.

“We go wherever the Air Force needs us. That might be training exercises out of Ohakea or Woodbourne air bases or anywhere in New Zealand for any of the squadrons.

He has been to the Kermadec Islands with the Royal New Zealand Navy and has worked with coalition partners on exercises in New Zealand, including from the United States, Canada, and Australia.

“It’s a great opportunity to work with international partners and other services, interacting with all those different units and countries,” he said.

He is looking forward to continuing to lead his Platoon and getting more deployments overseas.

This page was last reviewed on 7 February 2019.