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Resettlement success

Dean W
Forces: RAF

Dean W - WO

"The CTW was a superb workshop that left me feeling confident about my own plan."

WO Dean Wood served in the RAF for over 38 years. Here, he shares his resettlement story.

Throughout my career I have seen many colleagues reach the 2-year point before discharge and, as if it was some sort of surprise, reluctantly enter into resettlement activities. It was as if they were in denial that their time in the RAF was coming to an end and they would then stumble on through the resettlement process. I was determined not to fall into the same category.

As I passed the 30 year point I engaged with the Career Transition Partnership (CTP) team, registered for resettlement and attended the initial briefing to begin the process. With 8 years’ service remaining I didn’t really know what I wanted to do or become when I re-entered civilian life for the first time since the age of 16. Rather than waste my Career Transition Workshop (CTW), I elected to wait until nearer my discharge date.

Planning for the future

I eventually decided on a 5-year plan. Even though I still didn’t know what I truly wanted to do, I knew that my CV would not be good enough; who in Civvy Street would understand what a front line RAF Squadron Warrant Officer did? Having been in rank for over 2 years I was able to use my Enhanced Learning Credits (ELCs) to study for a Masters degree in Leadership & Management. This was the first step in making my experience relevant to the civilian arena and I followed it up by joining some professional institutes (the Chartered Management Institute (CMI) and the Institute for Leadership and Management (ILM)) and activating my LinkedIn profile.

Preparing my CV for Civvy Street

Believing my future lay in the management field, I began attending networking events with the institutes and met many interesting individuals from all walks of life.

The one thing the people I met at networking events all had in common was their praise for the Armed Forces and the transferrable skills that we all have.

I was encouraged by their optimism for my future and decided to work at becoming professionally registered as an engineer to further enhance my portfolio. Obtaining registration as an Incorporated Engineer (I Eng) and Member of the Institute of Mechanical Engineers (I Mech E) was a long but fulfilling process.

During the same period, I decided to apply to be a Chartered Manager through the CMI. Once again this required a detailed written submission and an interview that lasted well over an hour, conducted over skype from Afghanistan; another gratifying experience when I was informed that I had been successful. I also completed the Prince2 and APMP project management qualifications.

By 2014 I had amassed a number of civilian qualifications and industry memberships, which provided not just a series of letters after my name, but a recognition of career achievements translated into a language that potential employers could understand.

It was now 2015 and with two years before discharge, I started to seriously think about what I wanted to do – and what I didn’t want to do. I knew that I didn’t want to work in one location, didn’t want one job and didn’t want to have to be a slave to the clock. Essentially I wanted to work for myself, and I decided to start my own business as a management consultant.

Attending the Career Transition Workshop

I then attended the CTW at Kendrew Barracks.

The CTW was a superb workshop that left me feeling confident about my own plan.

Along with other resettlement briefings and events such as a Pensions Briefing and Employment Fair, I attended the ‘Insight to Commercial Finance’ course (now called ‘Finance for Non-Financial Managers’), which I felt would fill a gap in my knowledge and at least enable me to understand some business financial language, hopefully to not fall foul at interview or when pitching my business.

Starting my own business

It was during this period of resettlement training that I researched and started my own limited company, embarking on a series of pro-bono initiatives, supporting business areas from the NHS to local start up companies with consultancy services. This was an excellent way to gain some experience and feedback without feeling any pressure to earn money. I was also able to utilise the testimonials that I received when building my website.

I used my remaining ELCs to obtain change management qualifications: ‘Lean Practitioner and Six Sigma Black Belt’.

As I entered my final period of leave, remaining resettlement leave and terminal leave, the networking paid off and I was offered an opportunity contracting in a project role for one of the UK’s main defence contractors.

Looking to the future

Alongside the new day job, I am also part owner of Nelly’s, a mobile bar business which continues to grow. The bar is based within a lovingly refurbished vintage horse trailer, specialising in real ale from an award winning brewery, and we attend weddings, country shows, private garden parties and vintage carnivals.

Looking to the future, I want to concentrate on cementing my reputation in the management consultancy field whilst supporting the growth of Nelly’s. I know there is some hard work ahead but ultimately I would like to be in a position to enjoy family life; watching and supporting my grandchildren as they grow up having missed out on much of my own children’s lives due to the many overseas deployments.

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