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
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
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
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
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!