OnBoarding Officers’ Ambassador, ex-Lieutenant Colonel, Richard Ward, recalls his experience of transitioning from the military into the corporate world in 1988 and how different it was then compared to today.
“When I left the Army in December 1988 it was very hit or miss whether you had any proper Resettlement help as an Officer (it is all so different now I am pleased to say). In my case it was a miss! The organisation I was signposted to seemed to be totally out of touch with the reality of the civilian world and did not fully appreciate the transferable skills I and other Service Officers possessed. They advised that my aspirations were way above that which I could expect. I thought I knew better and so set out to plough my own furrow. I am glad I did.
I was determined that once I was in gainful employment I would endeavor to help and advise others following me on how to get a job and the sort of jobs we were best suited to, hence with another recently retired colleague we set up a Regimental resettlement group and I got involved in the early days of setting up The List.
My first job within a month of retiring was that of CEO of a local authority in London. I had applied during my so-called Resettlement Leave. I was shortlisted with a BA Pilot and a CEO of a smaller local authority. So why me you might ask – the LA CEO certainly asked. I had experience and knowledge that put me ahead of the other
two. I had no ‘baggage’ and I had well-honed leadership, organizational, communications and man-management skills. I had self-confidence and an enquiring mind. The Council wanted someone who could manage major change and maintain morale and services whilst it was effecting that change. The other two candidates were very competent but could not demonstrate they could do what was being asked of them. I could and you could. You all have the skillsets that I offered the Council. In those days I went from a Lieutenant Colonel’s salary to that of a Major General’s so don’t sell yourself short – be ambitious, have confidence in your ability, be prepared to adapt, listen and learn and above all demonstrate those skillsets shown above which are all so transferrable and so lacking in your civilian contemporaries.
After just over 2 years I had achieved the dramatic change that was asked of me by the Council, but I realized going forward that this wasn’t what I wanted to do. I didn’t relish working with elected Members and was concerned at the lack of integrity at all levels so I put my name in the ring again and over the years I have set up and run a quasi-public sector medium sized business , Chaired a Government Quango , been a Chairman and NED of a number of private sector businesses , organized and led UK Trade Missions all over the World and currently am involved in training and developing CEOs/MDs and senior executives in private , public and charity sector businesses and organisations . My message is; recognize when the job is not right for you and never be afraid to change horses and locations. You will have been mobile in your Service career where many of your civilian counterparts haven’t and that can often give you an advantage when applying for a job.
Finally, you don’t have to lose touch with your roots. I have been a Regimental Museum Trustee, a member of a RFCA Employer Support Committee and SaBRE and am currently on my Regiment’s Memorial Committee, my County ABF Committee, co-host The List in the West Midlands and am a Member of The West Midlands RFCA Management Board.
It’s amazing where your skillsets can take you, just put your head above the parapet.”