Written by Robert Haddow, North West Operations and Maintenance Manager.
“The date was 8th August 2005, I was an 18-year-old on Platform 1, Poole Train Station, waiting to get the next train to Lichfield, Staffordshire, to start a career in the military. Since leaving school, I had worked a few jobs but nothing really appealed to me – I wanted a challenge. My dad had recently finished a very successful 24 years’ service in the Royal Marines, so I decided to join up myself.
It was something that appealed to me as soon as I made a few enquiries and chose to enlist within the Corps of Royal Engineers to acquire trade qualifications. I thought I would do the minimum of 4 years and leave with a trade, however ended up leaving after 13 years with all the qualities to build on my success.
After finishing my training and trade requirements I immediately put myself forward for the All Arms Commando Course to earn the right to wear the coveted ‘Green Beret’ and serve within Commando Forces. I passed my Commando Course, and in the process developed the attitude and outlook that would stand me in good stead for the rest of my career and life.
The next 10 years took me around the globe, ranging from an Operational tour of Afghanistan, the sub-zero climates of the Arctic Circle, and the jungles of Malaysia to name a few. I also had the fantastic opportunity to work with Special Forces in both Africa and South America during this time. The experience I gained has been paramount in my development as Commander, enabling me to think strategically while managing teams and crisis situations in a variety of different environments.
The last two years of my military career was spent as an Instructor at the Royal Engineer Boat School. I was extremely fortunate that I had a good management team that continuously challenged and developed me as a Senior Manager while helping me realise my potential. I was given several high-profile assignments, most notably incorporating new training models which drove expenditure savings that will have a lasting effect on the school for years to come.
So why leave then, you’re probably asking? My priorities have changed in the last two years of service; I met my wife Emma and am pleased to say we are expecting our first children… twins, in the near future. We have settled in Essex and I no longer want to spend 6 months of the year away from family, therefore I put in my Notice to Terminate my contract.
In the months that followed I was assigned various courses and workshops with the Career Transition Partnership (CTP). The CTP is the official provider for Armed Forces personnel going through resettlement. They offer career transition advice and training opportunities while giving every Armed Forces leaver resettlement support. All courses are free and this is truly a fantastic organisation that every Service leaver should take advantage of. The biggest advice that I took away from these opportunities was to ‘never undersell yourself’.
The CTP also organises job fairs across the country which is a great opportunity for Service leavers to network with potential employers and to find out about different sectors. This is where I first came into contact with Balfour Beatty, who would become my employer. Balfour Beatty signed the Armed Forces covenant in 2015 and are a forces-friendly employer. They really understand the transferable skills we can bring to the construction sector, offering employment opportunities for Service leavers and veterans. I spoke with Balfour Beatty’s representative and sent them my CV.
A couple of weeks later I was contacted by Connect Plus Services, of which Balfour Beatty is a parent company, and asked if I was available for an interview. Connect Plus Services (CPS) operates and maintains the M25 network, including all adjoining trunk and slip roads on behalf of Highways England and Connect Plus.
After two successful interviews and delivering a presentation, I was offered a position as Operations and Maintenance Manager, which I immediately accepted. I have been very much welcomed into the Balfour Beatty and CPS organisations, have already been on numerous training courses to enhance my learning and have been given a development plan which has a clear timeline to coincide with promotional opportunities. I really could not have asked for a better first couple of months.
I wanted to share my story, as I know how difficult ‘the jump’ can be back into the civilian sector. Every member of the Armed Forces offers so much to civilian employers, and the Career Transition Partnership provides great support and advice while making the transition. They help and assist you along the way while organising many Job Fairs with civilian employers who recruit Service leavers.
Connect Plus Services and Balfour Beatty actively seek to recruit service leavers as they know the skill set and work ethic that we can provide. Balfour Beatty has a vibrant ex-Forces community and the company are keen to receive applications of personnel who are in their resettlement phase.
If you’re interested in joining the team that keeps the M25 moving, contact email@example.com/”