In her day job, Auckland’s 2nd Lieutenant Lily Feng
uses her biomedical engineering training to sell respiratory
devices to help with people’s breathing.

In her New
Zealand Army Reserve Force job, 2nd Lieutenant Feng
initially spent five years as a combat engineer (or sapper)
- where, as part of a troop, she uses explosives to create
or remove obstacles, build temporary bridges and handle
small boats to take on water obstacles so her fellow
soldiers can get about the battlefield.

In 2020 she
took a commission to become an officer and is now in a
junior leadership role. Those early foundation skills she
gained have provided her with in-depth military engineering
knowledge as well as a unique leadership

“The only thing in common with my job
and my degree is the word ‘engineer’,” 2nd Lieutenant
Feng says.

Originally from Palmerston North, 2nd
Lieutenant Feng is a marketing manager at a global medical
device company, Fisher & Paykel Healthcare, where she
puts her biomedical engineering degree from Auckland
University to use.

“I work with our international
sales teams to help them sell medical devices to hospital
healthcare professionals. The device provides a relatively
new respiratory therapy, so my job is to lead a team that
provides education and sales tools to sales

She said Fisher & Paykel had supported
her in her Reserve Force role, and NZDF training had been
beneficial to her civilian employment.

“The Army
provides me with challenges that my civilian job will never
be able to give me.”

She joined the Reserve Force in
2015 and has risen to become the Troop Commander of 3 Troop,
2 Field Squadron, 2 Engineer Regiment.

“I love being
part of the combat engineers, and feel very lucky to be in a
position to serve New Zealand,” she said.

Lieutenant Feng supported Operation Protect as part of the
government response to Covid-19, and contributed to the
disaster response when Cyclone Gabrielle caused flooding in
the Bay of Islands.

“You don’t need to already be
an engineer or have a technical background to become a
combat engineer. In our troop, we have people from many
walks of life, university students, business CEOs, software
developers, educators, data analysts and, of course
engineers and people from the trades.”

Lieutenant Feng has faced testing times in her Army life,
but said it was rewarding work and the people and
friendships help her pull through.

Recruit training
teams up pairs of “battle buddies”, where each person is
expected to assist the other both in and out of the field.
Battle buddies share challenging moments during their
training and this often forms a friendship that spans a

“My battle buddy and I both became combat
engineers, and belong to the same troop in Auckland,” 2nd
Lieutenant Feng said.

“The friendship was built from
Day 1, forged through challenges and developed over time.
It’s a great feeling to trust someone 100 per cent and
know you have each other’s backs.”

“I am also
fortunate to have a very supportive partner, he is
encouraging of what I do, and it makes juggling full time
civilian work, Army work, family, and life more
manageable,” she said.

Any Defence Recruiting
enquiries can be directed to 0800 1 FORCE. Each Reserve
Force company has its own training programme in line with
its battalion’s training focus.

Reserve training
normally comprises of a training weekend and training night
each month, with additional exercises and training
opportunities available throughout the

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