Why I believe military veterans have so much to offer industry
The military is a phenomenal community where your colleagues become your extended family and support base. So once you’ve devoted a significant portion of your life to such an all-consuming job, when it’s time to make a change, it can be difficult to picture a professional life outside of the Armed Forces.
In my military career, I served as a Royal Air Force (RAF) Logistics Officer in Afghanistan, Oman, Qatar, and Kuwait. I saw parts of the world that I would never have dreamed of visiting and met colleagues whose professionalism and courage never failed to astound me, with many making huge sacrifices in service to the country. It is for this reason that I am so passionate about supporting military personnel as they transition out of the forces into new careers.
For anyone making this change, it is important to be flexible in terms of what you want to do and keep an open mind when opportunities present themselves. I would never have thought eleven years ago that I would be doing what I am now.
I joined Leidos as a Programme Director in 2019, specifically in its Home Office Biometrics programme, and have been lucky enough to work on several rewarding assignments, including with the Logistics Commodities & Services Transformation (LCST) team last year. Through working with the LCST, we were tasked with replacing pharmaceutical and medical storage and supporting the distribution of MOD equipment including COVID-19 vaccines, NHS PPE, ventilators, and COVID-19 tests. Before joining Leidos, I spent nine years working for Boeing, Babcock, and GKN Aerospace.
Embarking on this career after leaving the military required me to learn quickly on the job and embrace new challenges. It also became apparent that many of the skills I had learnt in the military could be directly and very effectively applied to industry. Strong communication and leadership are transferrable skills that will serve you well no matter what you are doing. I had to assume a high level of responsibility at a young age, which forced me to develop such leadership qualities. It also meant that when I left the military, supporting and heading up teams was an instinctive response to the role, as I had been doing exactly that throughout my whole career.
The work ethic and resilience you are required to show in the military hardens you to adversity. Work did not stop on Saturdays, or Sundays – it was a constant commitment to the job. With the stakes always high – failure to complete whatever you were tasked with was not an option and this can be a powerful mantra for veterans to take into careers in industry.
Leidos and the sectors the company operates in clearly represent a natural professional fit for those leaving the military. Quite simply, the programmes Leidos run cannot fail. But on top of this, the organisation has become a hub for former Armed Forces personnel because it recognises the huge value and experience that veterans can bring to roles. Leidos supports several mission-critical operations across the globe and crucially, many of our senior team are former Armed Forces personnel who know to adapt well to shifting high-pressure situations.
I consider myself lucky to have had the opportunities I had within the Armed Forces, and the doors it has opened for me since. Sadly this hasn’t always been the case for all servicemen and women transitioning out of the Armed Forces. This is now changing and with companies like Leidos at the forefront, industries are increasingly recognising the hugely valuable contributions that ex-military personnel can make. Leidos, and other companies within the industry, have shown that veterans can pursue incredible careers opportunities after their service regardless of whether they have gone down the university route. Long may this trend continue.