Spotlight on a Covenant signatory – transitioning from the Armed Forces
FDM Group has signed the Armed Forces Covenant and is committed to supporting ex-forces personnel, providing a soft landing into the corporate world for personnel transitioning out of the Armed Forces. Here’s a piece from former RAF Flight Sergeant, Catherine Young who shares her career journey into FDM with us.
I recently left the RAF after 22 years as an IT manager/PM otherwise known to those in the services as ‘comms’ specialist. Over the years I’ve amassed a broad range of experience ranging from telecoms/network management through to information management working on large, complex systems integration and data migration projects, including the transition of fast yet Typhoon from RAF Leuchars to RAF Lossiemouth. I had a great time during my career, getting the best out of the opportunities the RAF had to offer including sandy detachments, expeditions far and wide, and of course the Mess functions.
While pregnant with my second son, Lloyd, in 2018 I started to realise that although I loved my job and the RAF, the nomadic lifestyle was starting to impact on family life and with my 22 year point and pension on the horizon, I decided to take the plunge and leave.
FDM had always been on my radar as I’d known service leavers of a similar background who’d successfully completed their initial 2 year contract on client site and then either renewed their FDM contract or ‘went perm’ with their placement employer. The security of a 2 year contract appealed to me along with the support you are given during transition from military to civvie employment.
FDM is a Gold award holder on the Defence Employer Recognition Scheme and provide ‘insight evenings’ where they give you a balanced view of life with them and what you can expect from training etc. I chose to forgo this due to the recommendations of trusted service mates and jumped straight in by contacting their recruiter directly (details at bottom of piece). He put me at ease straight away – their ex-forces team are all from a service background – spoke my language, asked about my experience and suggested that I apply for the Ex Forces – Advanced Project Management route.
Daunting as it was to walk through those shiny, frankly, intimidating doors at FDM Glasgow, the ex-forces team who greeted me soon made me feel relaxed, or as relaxed as you can be prior to an interview. The selection process challenges you to make quick decisions and do what we military people have all been trained to do: to think on our feet. My advice would be to keep calm and trust in your abilities, after all, those are the abilities that FDM see the value in from our military background.
Following selection, I was given a start date for the 5 week advanced course and was part of a small 3 person team throughout. I cannot praise the ex-forces training team highly enough. They know your background, they’ve lived it themselves, and can relate their experiences from both civvie and military working life in an identifiable way. This was the key part for me; developing confidence that my skills, knowledge and capabilities were directly transferable to a business environment. The courses we completed cemented the past project experience we already had and gave us that much needed ‘piece of paper’ to certify our skills.
Part of the course is dedicated to interview techniques, CV writing and perfecting the art of selling yourself which we are inclined as military personnel, to neglect. It was a step beyond the classes given during CTW and gave me real confidence going into my first video interview with RBS. The FDM account staff organise interviews with clients and work hard to match your CV and skills with the roles that clients require. I was lucky enough to pass that first interview and things moved pretty quickly with my starting the role at RBS Gogarburn within 3 weeks.
So, what am I doing now? I’m currently on client site with RBS, working in their Data Innovation department as a Scrum Master/Agile PM on exciting projects using Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning to detect fraud. A lot of it is new and it is an adjustment culturally having worked with the RAF for 22 years, but, I’ve found I’ve drawn upon lot of the skills I accumulated in the military and knowing that I have the support of the ex-forces team at FDM to bounce ideas off, helps enormously.
If you’re thinking of a change of career post military (you can actually do the FDM training as part of your service transition) or even just interested in hearing more about the opportunities for tri-service, all ranks, trades and branches, contact the email address below for further information.
Thanks for reading, Cath.
To apply to the FDM Ex-Forces Programme, or to discuss your options with a member of the Ex-Forces Team at FDM, send your CV or enquiry to [email protected].
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This story comes to you as part of the RAF FF’s themed month of June for all things relating to employment and training. As well as our online reference section, you can keep yourself up to date with the information and advice – available by signing up to our (free) weekly eBulletin and/or quarterly Envoy magazine.