He has a distinguished career spanning more than three decades in the armed forces, and now University of Queensland student Doug Sheridan is on a new endeavour.
Today the former sniper team leader is equipping himself with the skills and knowledge required to excel as a business leader.
Doug is studying a UQ Master of Business of Administration, a qualification he says is integral to his transition from a career with the Special Air Service Regiment (SASR) and Australian Federal Police to civilian pursuits.
“People ask me why I am doing an MBA now at my age and I tell them it’s because I want to remain relevant,” Doug said.
“The SASR has always taught that if you’re standing still, other people are walking past you.
“You need to stay agile, and you need to keep moving forward.
“The MBA has allowed me to plug straight into a system where I can learn what I need to learn and overlay that with my military and police experience and come out the other end as a hybrid, special leader.
“Down the track, I would like to be a director of a support service for soldiers, make it really effective and, in a way, serve again.”
Doug received a scholarship to study the MBA through a partnership between UQ and Wandering Warriors, a veteran charity organisation supporting former SASR soldiers and their families through education and employment.
“I joined the army with my parent’s permission at the age of 16 years and nine months,” Doug said.
“I hadn’t gone to university, so I don’t have undergraduate degrees or anything like that.
“That’s why I am very grateful to Wandering Warriors for starting these scholarships to help special forces veterans transition to the civilian workforce and support them if they are struggling with mental health issues.
“Education is an enormous help as both a preventative measure for mental health issues and it can be used as an intervention to help repair and healing.”
During his career with the Australian Army and the Federal Police, Doug served in West Sahara, Malaysia, East Timor, Solomon Islands, Tonga, and Afghanistan. He said the demands of serving in the Special Forces and as a federal agent in the Australian Federal Police had taken a toll on his mind and body.
While serving as a close protection officer for diplomats at the Australian embassy in Afghanistan, Doug recognised it was time to heal from decades of being “hyper-vigilant and burnt out”.
The effects of war finally impacted his life in a serious way and resulted in a difficult and challenging period to navigate, Doug took a hiatus from work but continued to serve in the Army Reserve. Together with his supportive partner and family, he took time to rehabilitate, travelled extensively and used his lived experience to contribute to Soldier On Australia, a national not-for-profit organisation supporting defence personnel, veterans and their families.
Doug moved to the UK with his partner to support her career, during which time he picked up a job with Cricket Scotland and even completed a stint as a liaison officer for the Thai women’s national cricket team.
The pandemic brought him and his family back to Australia, where he then seized the MBA scholarship opportunity with Wandering Warriors and UQ Business School.
“It got to the point where I was done and dusted with army life, and I realised I no longer wanted to hold onto the identity of just being a soldier,” Doug said.
“Now I walk into an MBA class on a weeknight or on a weekend and I am positively received by my MBA peers, lecturers and professors.
“When I first looked at the course structure and saw subjects like Leading People and Teams, I told myself that I had been a leader my whole life and that I already knew what I was doing.
“But doing the course has given me access to the cutting-edge insights, doctrine, views and fresh thoughts on business and leadership.
“I wanted to be current and relevant in a civilian context, to be more than a seasoned war fighter, and the MBA is assisting me in achieving this.
“I’m also really glad that I’m doing the MBA through UQ because the prestige of the university doubles the effect of an MBA in my mind.”