Resettlement Story - Emma Morgan

Date: Friday January 10, 2020 at 1:06pm

Sunday 17 Feb 2002, I found myself waving goodbye to my family and friends on a very cold Neath train station. Settling down in my seat, the realisation hit me – “S*** I’m joining the Army”.  What are you doing Emma!  There was an urge to get off at the next stop and run home.  What are you thinking!  We had no family history of military service, save for my father’s brief stint in the Royal Naval Reserves (where he had 5 mins of fame, after swiping a Russian sub during a training exercise!) That night trying to get warm under my set of blankets itchy (no duvets in them days) in a room which had seen better days, again the urge to get the hell out was there again.  However, something made me stay and it was the best decision I ever made.  Fast forward 6 months and I am on a beach in Cyprus starting my first posting as office in charge of legal aid to soldiers in Cyprus.  Yes - good decision Emma!

I was blessed with a phenomenal Army Career, serving overseas in Cyprus, Germany, Georgia and Afghanistan to name but a few.  Highlights include running the London Marathon (pic below) and raising £2500.00 for combat stress.  Meeting David Beckham (pic below) and also a few of the royal family.  

During my last few years of service I was fortunate to be in London and serving in a specialist legal role. It was the pinnacle of my Army service, I had done and achieved a huge amount during my time but started to think I needed a new challenge. I therefore took the decision that now was the right time to leave.  I didn’t take the decision lightly, I spent countless hours looking at what I really wanted to do, where I wanted to work, and whether this was the right time to leave.  After a few weeks however I was clear in my mind that wanted to leave and set about putting in my termination of service. 

   

I submitted my notice 18 months out from my exit date, and I found this hugely advantageous as it gave me a significant amount of time to start looking at what was out there and what I wanted to do. I had a clear vision that I didn’t want to be a lawyer in the traditional sense and sought to seek out other opportunities.  The employment of veterans and the skills they offer is a now readily recognised by most employers, and the vast majority of the big corporate firms run schemes aimed specifically at ex-forces.  Early on I attended a CV and interview workshop at Barclays Bank and was impressed and encouraged by the support and opportunities offered by them.  I was fortunate to be offered a mini work placement with them for 2 weeks. I got to see various departments and what roles were potentially available to me. I spent some time with the financial crime and compliance teams and realised that my skill set was a good match.  I therefore sought to seek out opportunities in this area.  In early 2018 I attended another CV and interview workshop with KPMG.  KPMG have an excellent programme for ex-forces, offering an initial 6 month paid fixed contract.  This was opportunity led, rather than a fixed entry date for service leavers, and the scheme has been hugely successful with a 100% conversion rate to permeant contracts. An opportunity presented itself in risk consultancy, financial crime, and following a successful interview for the role, I was offered a role as Manager.  I commenced employment with KPMG in Sep 18 Prior to starting work, I took 3 months out and invested that time in myself.  I would urge anyone leaving the forces that if they can, do take some time for themselves.  

Being in the corporate world wasn’t as daunting as I expected.  The team at KPMG were hugely welcoming and got me involved from day 1. I was also provided with a buddy who was ex-military who I could chat to at any time.  By week three I was at a client site and working as part of a team. The work was interesting and varied and the team of people I worked with were very supportive and helpful.   KPMG also have a significant forces in the firm network, so there was always someone you could reach out to even if it was just for a coffee and chat.   

Out of the blue in Apr 19 I was contacted by a senior Partner at a law firm, Harrison Clark Rickerby’s (Pics below), offering me an opportunity with them.  This took me by surprise, as I had set out not wanting to be a lawyer in the traditional sense.  However, a few more conversations and a visit to a number of the firm’s offices and a look at the work involved, I decided to take the plunge and go for it.  I am now a Partner is their dispute resolution team, specialising in security, defence and the forces.  The firm is a huge supporter of defence and the armed forces community.  They employ former members of the armed forces and serving members’ families, and has recently won the highest possible award in the Ministry of Defence’s Employer Recognition Scheme – the Gold award. The Firm also supports me by providing paid leave to undertake my reservist commitment.  I am now a month into the new role, and whilst never expected to find myself working in a law firm within a year of leaving, I am thoroughly enjoying it.     

Advice I would give to anyone looking to leave is do your homework first, think about what you want to do and where.   

If you can, put in your notice as early as possible to give yourself a long lead in time to your exit date.  Time goes quickly and before you know it you are out the door.

Go to as many events as possible, even if it’s to discount that industry. 

Use LinkedIn!  When you meet someone add them, even if you don’t contact them again, you never know when you might need that contact.

Take some time out for yourself. Invest time and energy in you. 

Don’t feel you need to stick with your first choice, I know of many service leavers who for a variety of reasons change roles fairly early on.  It’s not fatal!

Finally, enjoy it!  This is something you can control and shape.  You can finally be the master of your own destiny and not have some Desk Officer deciding your fate!

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