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Resettlement success

Stephen A
Forces: Ex-Army

Stephen A - Major

“There is no such thing as a perfect scenario, so work out what is in your favour and exploit the opportunities. Network, network, network. Most of all, enjoy yourself, it is infectious”.

Ex-Major Stephen A left the Army in March 2014, having served for 13 years as an Infantry Officer specialising in Defence Intelligence and HR. With an eye on his future civilian career, Stephen had undertaken a part-time and self-funded Masters Degree in Conflict, Security and Development at Kings College London, whilst still serving.

Stephen says, “My main reason for leaving the Army was to pursue opportunities that had presented themselves following my degree at Kings College London. These opportunities were in Humanitarianism, and I am now continuing that journey in my new career with IBM and also with the Military Stabilisation Support Group in the Army Reserve.”

Of his military experience, Stephen says, “I gained a good deal of operational experience in Intelligence. This was not perhaps the classical confidential type of intelligence but more about population security. Beyond operational experience, much of the officer education has been useful in my understanding of International Relations.”

With a few ideas in mind for his civilian career, Stephen attended a Career Transition Workshop at RRC Northolt, and says, “It was a great self-reflexive time to appreciate my accomplishments and identify areas for improvement, then get them recorded into a CV. Around this time I received a great bit of advice about the “British Disease” from a very successful businessman. He said that the British seem to be too bashful in discussing our accomplishments, whereas we should be more proud in talking about what we have achieved. He has had a long and successful career! This advice and the great coaching from the CTW meant I created a CV that was more compelling and relevant to a non-military audience."

Stephen also used some of his GRT to complete an Advanced Management Achievement course, which is a specialised programme designed for officers moving into management and executive careers. He says that this has been useful to learn the language of business, one that is just as complicated as military speak!

Armed with a civilian CV, Stephen soon found that networking was the key to finding employment in the civilian workplace, through what he describes as the “beer and coffee” method.

“This is about meeting as many people as possible, not so much for directly seeking employment, but more for sharing ideas and experiences."

He says, "People know that employment is what you are seeking, but they don't want to feel any pressure if there are no jobs available."

"There is a lot of good will for “the ex-Army guy”, which is very reassuring. People were very willing to give an hour of their time for either a coffee (daytime) or beer (evening). The key is to have a story to tell and an idea to follow, the more people you meet and share the idea with, the sharper your pitch will become. The trick is to always follow up with something. This might be sending an email with a link to a website relevant to the meeting, a referral for the person you have met, or to make contact with a person they mentioned”. The success of this method was demonstrated when Stephen was invited for an interview with IBM after networking with some IBMers. He describes this as "a great compliment from an impressive organisation". Following the interview, he was offered a job and now works for IBM in Cyber Security.

The role involves selling cyber-security systems to the MOD and Central Government and Stephen has found that much of his military experience working on large projects has been useful in preparing him for the role. He says, “training for a defence acquisition job has been useful to understand business management, and this has been complemented with the Advanced Management Achievement Course.”Alongside this role, Stephen continues to work with the Military Stabilisation Support Group in the Army Reserve and also finds time to do some private consulting in Humanitarian work.

When asked what advice he would give to other Service leavers, Stephen says, “there is no such thing as a perfect scenario, so work out what is in your favour and exploit the opportunities. Network, network, network. Most of all, enjoy yourself, it is infectious”.
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