Ollie Kickett feels much more happier driving his coffee van Coffee Kix around Canberra, than his 35 year career trying to drive change in the public service.
"It's more satisfying, absolutely more satisfying," he said.
"I'm making my own decisions about my business. Not having to be responsible to a whole range of bosses, including the boss above you, the boss of the branch and minister. In some cases we had three ministers who were at bosses."
Mr Kickett, who worked in law and justice, said being Aboriginal sometimes made it hard to work in the public service.
"Because we come from the Aboriginal community, we try to represent our community. So sometimes we're divided about where our loyalties lie, to either the minister or the community," he said.
"So if we upset the community, then we're seen as too close to government. And if we were too close to the community were criticised by government."
The Aboriginal elder said he was sometimes accused of "being government" by people in the community.
"You know, you can only do so much as a junior public servant anyway, so you just chip away at it and try to see if you can get little programs here and there that can make a difference," he said.
After an early retirement, Mr Kickett used his superannuation money to buy a coffee van and start a totally new venture about 18 months ago.
He had no experience running a business, but his career to that point had prepared him for some challenges.
His experience in tourism taught him to have a point of difference.
"I had no plans on not having the [Indigenous] artwork because I think there are a number of coffee vans around Canberra," he said.
"For me the artwork was always going to distinguish my business against somebody else's."
The van is used by organisations as diverse as local football clubs, public service departments and even as an early morning pick-me-up for primary school teachers.
"The school jobs are starting to become more frequent. That will be something that I would like to continue to grow on at the moment," he said.
After a successful winter, the grandfather of two is looking to the future.
His first step is to fit out the van, which will cost about $20000, before expanding into franchisees.
"At the moment I've got probably two offers to expand. I want to get into definitely wanna get to Perth because Perth my home town. And I'd like to think about Melbourne and Sydney as well," he said.
Perhaps the biggest change to Mr Kickett's life has been the late-life advent of coffee snobbery.
"I have become a little bit more fussy about the coffee that people give me now. Because I know a cappuccino from a latte and a flat white from an espresso," he said.
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