Civvy Street – Challenges and Opportunities

We interviewed one of our ex-services employees on the challenges they faced entering Civvy Street. 

What advantages does an HM services background give you in terms of a career in the transport world?

Having spent my forces career in the Royal Logistic Corps, and majority of active service in the Balkans areas, the experience and skills gained are priceless, and some eye opening life lessons. You see the adverts on TV, saying “its what will make you”, regardless of which service you entered in, this is true. The team work and comradery experiences are a major advantage for developing and furthering a career in the transport industry. Having real life situations where urgency and customer satisfaction is a must, even though through a different context, are very transferable.

The old cliché of Improvise, Adapt and Overcome, something you hear throughout your service and is hounded into you, are more transferable skills where on a daily basis in the transport world you are problem solving and multitasking, in a very demanding industry. Leadership skills gained from various courses offered by the forces when training for JNCO or SNCO status, is not only training you to lead, but develops your own leaderships skills, again transferable.

Not least the people and social skills developed whilst servicing are an asset to your tool box when developing relationships with colleagues and customers, as your self-confidence and pride clearly shows.

Whether you’re moving ammunition, supplies or aid to much needed end users these skills are easily transferable to moving consumer products, grocery or construction materials.

What are the adjustments you have to make?

Adjusting was difficult, moving from a way of life in which you’re told what to wear, what to do in every aspect of a routine, was hard.  I suppose at first it felt great, being able to get up in the morning and know that for the rest of the day you, to a degree, are in control of yourself. The first few weeks felt like I was lost and was waiting to be told which way to go.

The other difficulty was working environment and, to a degree, regulations kick in.  From a place where you just go on with it and got the job done, to a place where H&S, unions and best practices took over were difficult to get my head around.  On my first role as a civvy driver, I was taking part in an induction, and when asked about flat tyre procedures, I could not get my head around someone coming to do it for me and having to wait 60-90 mins, when you’re used to your so called mates driving past on a Bedford, and throwing you a tyre, that you built up yourself.

These were very difficult adjustments for me, and took me some time to adjust, probably around 2 years, but it got easier and having the support of other ex-service personnel within the industry made it easier, some you could go to for support, as they had done it, to eventually giving your support to others new to Civvy Street.

If you could give advice to any ex services man or woman starting a new career in Civvy Street what would it be?

Leaving the forces was very difficult, having to give 12 months’ notice, and for that 12 months taking the jokes from the lads, and the superiors trying any way possible to retain you.  In the end it was all worth it, but I felt it was time to move on and develop myself, something I had thought in myself that after 22 years’ service would I have been able to do what I have achieved now? probably not.  I have no idea why I took that decision after 6 years but I did. I found that most employers in Civvy Street would always look at an ex service person with respect, and knowing that you have self-discipline and personal pride will always get you a long way.  Don’t get me wrong I miss it, and would go back tomorrow if circumstances changed as I loved every minute of it. But the opportunities and skills, that small time serving gave me are something that I am thankful for. Once you have taken the decision to leave, there is a reason you decided to do so, have confidence in yourself and look back and what you achieved when you were in the forces, as Civvy Street seems scary, but in comparison it’s nothing that you haven’t done before. Take the bull by the horns and crack on, you will see it is worth it in the end.