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Insights Partnering with Armed Forces: support and success in consultancy

Meet Stuart Chambers – Veteran, Reservist and Principle Consultant in Digital Asset Management in Transportation. Stuart's role with AtkinsRéalis, is to steer complex, multi-stakeholder programs. He joined us in August 2019 after an exciting military career. Here's Stuart's story, followed by his Three Top Tips for Civvy Street:

Your military service is a great asset for a civilian career

The leadership, management skills, and specific qualifications gained from my military career have proven invaluable in my civilian life. Even without formal project management qualifications, the logical methodologies learned through managing missions and tasks in the military, such as using the seven questions estimate and orders process, can guide effective client delivery.

Engineering disciplines, being highly regulated, often have standards and codes of practice rooted in military or aerospace applications; while terminology may vary, the core concepts remain strikingly similar. Our military background inherently strengthens our abilities in operation and maintenance across sectors. It equips us to critically evaluate standard operating procedures, manage risks, consider alternative modes of operation, build resilience, and unhesitatingly challenge the status quo.

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How I started my military career

In 1999, after earning my Mechanical Engineering degree, I joined the British Army, breaking with my family's great naval tradition. I graduated from the Royal Military Academy Sandhurst, joined the Corps of Royal Electrical and Mechanical Engineers (REME), and trained in Aeronautical Engineering. My duties ranged from overseeing the Army's total assets' maintenance to contributing to the Army's first Apache AH-64D Regiment's growth and deployment, including its first assignment in Afghanistan.

Seeing the world through the service

I've been deployed globally throughout my service, including Northern Ireland, Afghanistan, Iraq, and at the 2012 London Olympics. I've worked in a variety of settings, from Regular and Reserve units to Army Headquarters and Defence Equipment and Support. Notably, my team in Iraq was honoured with the Civil Service Award for Innovation, having developed critical operational changes that protected deployed personnel.

Serving as an Army Reserve

As a Reservist, I commanded a REME Recovery Company, supporting Operation RESCRIPT (COVID-19 NHS response) and maintenance missions in Germany for the UK's operational fleets and equipment designated for Ukraine and NATO allies in Europe.

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Moving to a civilian career

Following my Regular Service, I completed the Advanced Management Achievement Course at Alliance Manchester Business School, a program I endorse for service leavers and those with remaining learning credits. Transitioning into civilian life, I served as an Operations Engineering Manager in the pharmaceutical industry in North-East England. I used my military skills to introduce innovative strategies like live non-destructive testing, optimizing asset health assessment and ensuring efficient shutdown periods.

Discovering AtkinsRéalis at a webinar

Despite previous interactions with management consultants during my military tenure, my interest in professional services grew after attending a webinar on Management Consultancy by an AtkinsRéalis employee and a Partnering with the Armed Forces (PwAF) member.

Supported by AtkinsRéalis' Partnering with Armed Forces

The AtkinsRéalis initiative, PwAF, helps reserves and former military personnel transition to civilian life, from job hunting to career advancement. The program excels in evaluating the CVs of ex-military personnel with a flexible and open mindset.

Recognizing potential: identifying transferable skills for my new role

After my first contact with AtkinsRéalis, I attended a PwAF Insight Day in York and received support throughout the hiring process. Identifying a role within the Transportation division, I proactively connected with three AtkinsRéalis staff on LinkedIn to identify my transferrable skills. These friendly people became my Team Leaders and Heads of Asset Management Discipline.

Support and flexibility around my needs as a Reservist

Thanks to PwAF's policy support for Reservists, I've been able to meet my Reserves commitments. An extra two weeks of paid leave for the Annual Continuous Training Camp, in addition to military pay, is a huge perk!

PwAF's online presence via Yammer and Teams has also been invaluable for raising questions and finding experts across all fields – as PwAF members span every division and level within our business.

Photo of Rebecca smiling towards the camera

If you're looking to transition to civvy street, in typical military fashion, here are my three top tips:

1.Choose an organization that embraces hybrid working

When I first joined AtkinsRéalis, my skills and experience were a good match for their Aerospace, Defence, Security & Technology team (ADS&T). But I wanted to stay in North-East England, so I didn't apply for roles mainly based in the South and South-West. Thanks to AtkinsRéalis' flexible working culture, location is less important – we've seen that hybrid and remote work really do work well.

2. Choose Armed Forces Employer Recognition Scheme Members

By making this commitment, organizations have already demonstrated that they are 'Forces friendly' and will be able to signpost you to people that can provide you with advice specific to roles within their organization. For example, although I was a chartered engineer, I was advised that within my Transportation division, job titles with 'engineering' were actually for deep subject matter experts with several years of specialist experience and that my knowledge, skills and expertise would better suit roles I had not previously considered.

3. Consider joining the Reserves directly from the Regular forces.

It's possible to transfer to the Army Reserve Reinforcement Group from the Army. There's no commitment initially while you kick-start your second career. But if you transfer right away, you keep your medical history and security clearances, which could be helpful for future military or civilian jobs. The Reserves can also be great if you're moving to an area where you don't know anyone. About a third of my team were former Regulars who moved to new places (like their spouse's hometown, a previous posting, or a new job location) and joined the Reserves for social connection and a sense of belonging.

How about working for a Military-friendly organization? Discover more and search live roles.