How the army gave Nick Bloomfield a direction in life, and the opportunity to help others find theirs
At 16 years old, Leidos business development manager, Nick Bloomfield, had no idea what he wanted to do with his life. Then, on a whim one day, he wandered into Colchester high street's army recruiting office and declared he wanted to be a paratrooper.
“I was this scrawny thing with long hair, and the guy behind the desk just started laughing at me." Bloomfield describes. “But he suggested I join the Royal Engineers, and that was it really."
Bloomfield ended up spending 25 years of his life with the military, becoming a senior non-commissioned officer in charge of fifteen different types of armoured vehicles, running a command-and-control centre for up to 1,200 people in both peacetime and warfighting operations. He eventually worked as an instructor in everything from communications, weapon handling and driving to kayaking, biathlon, climbing, and map reading.
“What I enjoyed was the diversity and the fact that you never know quite what's round the corner," he says. “I think that suited me much better than the idea that I might end up just standing in front of some machine pressing buttons over and over again for eight hours a day. “
Where he had the most fun, however, was training young people ― a role that began unexpectedly when his OC called him in and told him that he needed to look after a group of 40, 11-18-year-olds for the next two weeks.
“These were from the army cadets, which is a civilian organization, sponsored by the MOD, the ACF and CCF work with kids from a wide range of backgrounds," Bloomfield explains. “One of the highlights was that we gave them some explosives and let them blow things up, and we took them out in helicopters, on the ranges, in construction vehicles and field training. When they left, they presented me with a mug and a list of the 47 cadet rules that I'd broken, and told me they'd had an absolutely brilliant time."
Having instructed both kids and military personnel, Bloomfield says that each group comes with a unique set of challenges. Still, he believes the most important thing is to help and understand each individual and figure out what approach works best for them.
, Business Development Manager
I think sometimes we try to pigeonhole people before we understand what they enjoy and what their skills are. It's really important to understand that people learn in different ways, have different skills and that you have to manage them in a way that's sympathetic to them, if you want to get the best out of them.
Upon leaving the army, Bloomfield brought that same philosophy to his first civilian role at a charity called SkillForce, which employs veterans to provide a role model and help children experiencing social and educational challenges in developing self-confidence, stability and independence and providing them with educational qualifications.
Then, after a few decades of working in instruction, a move for his wife's job saw Bloomfield switching to a new role in sales for a defence technology company. There, his skills at understanding what an individual needs and his military experience was put to good use. In December 2021, he joined Leidos to work as a business development manager in the defence division.
While a sixteen-year-old Bloomfield may have had no idea what business development meant, or where that decision to join the Royal Engineers might lead, Bloomfield now believes that it was precisely the skills he developed in the military that set him up for this challenge.
“All the training you have in the military is geared around developing confidence, self-sufficiency, reliance and the ability to work as part of a team," he says, "I don't think industry always appreciates the strength, and skill a veteran can bring. At Leidos they understand that we turn up five minutes early, prepared and if you give us an opportunity, we will work hard to do the best job we can."
For more information on our Operation Military Veteran Programme visit: www.leidos.com/operation-mvp