While some view contract negotiations as a “kind of war”, Spanish-born defence industry lawyer Emilio Pardo prefers to find common ground.
Emilio Pardo is a lawyer for Navantia Australia, the Australian subsidiary of the Spanish company Navantia, which, through its work for the Australian Government and its main contractors, services our defence industry by designing and building ships like the Hobart-class air warfare destroyers and providing other professional services here in South Australia.
Pardo works behind the scenes of our defence operations as the contracts manager at Navantia, and “negotiates the contracts the company has with the Commonwealth of Australia or any other companies working in defence. Once these contracts are signed, he says, “I ‘take care’ of them by attending progress review meetings, controlling the formal correspondence, giving advice to the project team whenever there is a doubt or a different interpretation of the contractual provisions.”
Work meetings often take Pardo across the country with discussions taking place in Sydney, Melbourne or Canberra, but it is Adelaide that Pardo has come to love with and now proudly calls home. Pardo is originally from the city of Ferrol, in north-west Spain, a place with a long history of shipbuilding and operations in defence. It was here in 2007 that Pardo, who was already employed by Navanti, was offered to work on contract negotiations in Australia.
Pardo admits he never imagined working in Australia, but when offered the chance, he jumped at it. “As a child,” says Pardo, “Australia was a mix between the series Secret Valley [a children’s TV show that was a co-production between Australia, Spain and France that aired internationally in the 1980s] and Crocodile Dundee, a sort of ‘California with kangaroos’.” But Pardo’s view of Australia was set to change and, since he has come to know and greatly admire Australia, he says living here has been “the biggest opportunity of my personal or professional life”.
“Moving to Adelaide was like really starting to know and become friends with an old acquaintance. My previous business trips didn’t allow me to really discover Adelaide and once I was settled here I realised the beauty of South Australia. I feel blessed to live in such a city and an area that has so much to offer.”
Of the most rewarding part of his job Pardo says, “I do not want to sound pretentious but I would say that contributing to the greatness of our countries is extremely rewarding, and the role these vessels play as peacekeepers and humanitarian service providers. When we mention defence, the Navy, etcetera, people normally think in terms of war and our products as ‘war vessels’, but I think that nowadays there is much more to them. Not everyone knows that the HMAS Adelaide and Canberra (based on the Spanish Juan Carlos I LHD design) can provide electricity for an entire city or that they have a real hospital inside them.”
As his job title suggests, communication and document analysis are a huge part of Pardo’s daily routine. “A standard day goes between emails, formal correspondence and meetings. It is when I am in the middle of a negotiation [that] I really love my job. Reviewing all the contractual documents and provisions are like pieces of a jigsaw puzzle that I need to fit together to see the big picture – that is the final and entire agreement.”
Although his work life is extremely serious, he hasn’t let that affect his taste for the eccentric. Pardo’s personal fashion sense reflects this, with what he calls ‘refreshed classic’, where he mixes traditional tailoring with his unique eye for colour.
Living in the CBD of Adelaide reflects this taste too, where he loves being able to walk to his local barber, Roccaffelas, take chocolates or tea at Koko Black or even pop into Tiffany & Co., before going to see the roses in the Botanic Gardens. When he’s not in the city and not at work, our beaches most capture his imagination, “As soon as I leave the office, if it’s summer, I head to the closest beach to the Osborne shipyard, such as Grange or on the weekends the beaches down south past McLaren Vale.”
The most important tools of Pardo’s trade are common sense, respect, politeness and also a bit of humour. He says, “Sometimes people understand the contract negotiations or the meetings held during the life of a contract as a kind of war where they have to win or to conquer the other. I do not agree and I prefer to think of them as a win-win game where I can explain my view and defend my points politely and showing respect for the people I have in front of me”.
When asked if he now feels at home here, Pardo speaks of finding Adelaide as his new base has been a kind of miracle. “I know and I appreciate my background and origins. I love my country but Adelaide has brought me things and feelings that I thought were long forgotten.”
Leo Greenfield is a freelance illustrator