Leading the team responsible for determining the air combat force of the future has resulted in Maddy Rentmeester being named a finalist in the Project Management category of the prestigious 2021 Australian Defence Magazine Women in Defence Awards.

As Director of the Future Air Combat Systems Program Office, Ms Rentmeester is responsible for a critical body of work that is laying the foundation of Air Force’s future air combat capability.

Ms Rentmeester has been in the role since mid-2020 and, since then, the team and scope of projects has grown significantly. 

From managing the future phases of the high-profile F-35A project and Loyal Wingman, to the Southern Cross Integrated Flight Experiment, Next Generation Jammer and Joint Terminal Attack Controller system upgrades, Ms Rentmeester and her team have their work cut out for them.

“Future air combat capabilities are exciting and I have loved being able to grow a team from the ground up, influence the culture and dynamics, be on the front foot and create an organisation with no preconceived ideas to get at this capability for the Air Force,” Ms Rentmeester said.

Ms Rentmeester has worked in Defence since 2002 – the majority of her career – and has been in Capability Acquisition and Sustainment Group (CASG), and its predecessor, the Defence Materiel Organisation, for 10 years. 

“I was in the team bringing the Romeo Maritime Combat Helicopter into service for Navy, which was a career highlight,” she said. 

“At the time, Romeo was a huge program worth $2.5 billion.”

She has also worked in the Maritime Guided Weapons team, where she was involved in the upgrade to the Evolved Sea Sparrow Missile, as well as the COVID-19 Task Force last year where she managed unsolicited proposals for Defence industry during a time of economic turmoil.

Ms Rentmeester said she was drawn to the air domain because she always wanted to be involved in aerospace projects.

“Being involved in the Loyal Wingman’s first test flight in February was amazing,” she said. 

“The team worked incredibly hard with Boeing Defence Australia to enable a successful first flight. 

“The Loyal Wingman is the first military combat aircraft to be designed, engineered and manufactured in Australia in 50 years, so it was a significant achievement.” 

But Ms Rentmeester knows having technologically advanced capabilities are only possible with the humans behind them. 

“I love my team,” she said. 

“It’s like a family and I wouldn’t be able to do this job without them. 

“In fact, it was two of my team members – Tom Sebalj and Wing Commander Piotr ‘Buzz’ Baizert – who nominated me for the awards.

“I was blown away.

“We also work closely with Air Force Headquarters. 

“Group Captains Guy Adams and Peter Robinson – who work in Air Combat Capabilities – have been trusted and patient advisors helping us to establish the Future Air Combat Systems Program Office in CASG.”

Ms Rentmeester recommended Defence to women who want “amazing and varied opportunities”.

“No matter where you work in Defence, you’ll be able to exercise your mind and solve complex problems, liaise with multiple stakeholders and devise creative solutions that really matter,” she said.

The Women in Defence Awards ceremony is scheduled to be held in Canberra on February 1. 

For more information, visit: https://admwomenindefenceawards.com.au/