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Insights Life after the military - a perspective

Duncan Ross Russell is the Regional Director at Faithful+Gould, a member of the AtkinsRéalis group. He is currently involved with the South Tees Development Corporation in the North East and sits on the Project Management Forum across EDPM.


     image of Duncan smiling

After four years in the reserves, Duncan was commissioned into the regular army as a Royal Engineer, where he served for a further 16 years. He is a Chartered Mechanical Engineer and his role in the Army was to manage construction projects across the battlefield. When he decided to leave the military in 2007, he had been based overseas which presented him with a unique problem – he didn’t have a set place to relocate in the UK nor did he have a job to steer him in choosing a location. While this is an unlikely problem in the civilian world this can be quite common for those exiting the armed forces. He had this to share about his resettlement experience - 

“On leaving the forces you can have too much flexibility making decision making difficult.  I owned a property in North Yorkshire so chose to settle here, reducing my options but giving more focus to my decision making.”

When it came to finding work opportunities, Duncan cast his net wide leveraging military platforms such as the Officer’s Association and Career Transition Partnership as well as recruitment agencies. One of the difficulties he experienced was the lack of understanding by civilian agencies to align him with a role, which required him to take control of the process himself through his network. Some advice from Duncan to anyone in the process of leaving the military is -

“I believe networking is key, use every means at your disposal to mobilise your network to advise and support you in finding your next step in life. It’s important to reach out to the forces community in your area or desired industry for advice on the career landscape and what skills to showcase from your military experience. Every veteran has gone through this experience and the majority are more than willing to offer advice.”

Duncan was instrumental in Atkins’ initial involvement with the Armed Forces Covenant and in achieving Gold certification. He currently represents F+G within Atkins’ Partnering with the Armed Forces (PwAF) programme, which is a community of interest for employees who have a connection to the military and is part of the UK&E Equality, Diversity and Inclusion (ED&I) network. Regarding the importance and contribution of military personnel to companies like Atkins and F+G he had this to say -

“It’s vital that companies show their support and actively recruit veterans, they bring a unique dynamic to teams as they have experience working in fast paced environments that often require multiple changes in approach. This flexibility is a highly valued skill and something that veterans have fine-tuned over the course of their military careers.

Events like Armed Forces Week are great programmes to raise awareness and show our appreciation of the work that our armed forces do. They are also an opportunity to remind them that when they return, they will be valued for the skills they have gained.” 

PwAF not only supports our military community within Atkins but also operates externally by hosting Insight Days at various Atkins’ offices during the year, where military personnel can learn more about our offering, as well as partnering with the Officer’s Association at their careers events. These events are important in attracting military personnel to the company and highlighting that their services are required in industry. The programme also raises awareness of key military events such as VE-Day and Armed Forces Week within the company.