After obtaining a Bachelor of Commerce Degree at the University of Melbourne, Hugh taught for two years in the State Secondary Education System before joining the Australian Army in 1970 as a National Serviceman. He was allocated to the Royal Australian Army Educational Corps and served, as a Captain in Papua New Guinea until 1974 when he was posted as Instructor to the Officer Cadet School at Portsea. He was subsequently promoted to Major and, in 1986, Lieutenant Colonel and District Education Officer at Headquarters Third Military District. In 1991, he was promoted to the rank of Colonel and assumed the appointment of Director of Army Education until 1996. He also held the position of Director of the Defence Force Equity Organisation.