From Royal Navy Weapons Engineer to Building Services Manager

Mark joined the Royal Navy in 1992 and, despite a forthcoming promotion, decided in 2014 he was ready for a new career. He left HMS Iron Duke as a Petty Officer Weapon Engineering, and, after work experience at WYG, started in his new role as a building services manager at Styles & Wood in June 2016.

As Mark began his resettlement he explored all the things he had to think about before taking this significant step. This included finding the time to start drawing up a resettlement plan and writing a CV whilst still engaged in operational commitments and a busy ship’s programme.

He felt the most important place to start was to enrol in the Career Transition Partnership (CTP) and attend a Career Transition Workshop. The CTP resettlement services enabled Mark to research the construction industry and create a personal network. He used the courses and events to identify companies that he might like to work with and then make contact directly to see if they had opportunities that would suit his skills and experience. He also built a strong LinkedIn profile and joined relevant special interest groups to get the latest ideas and news.

Mark emphasises the importance of developing a strong CV and sound resettlement plan:

“It cannot be overestimated and keeps you motivated and focused during your job search. I attended job fairs, including ones outside the CTP, such as the Engineering and Construction Recruitment and Renewable UK Energy exhibitions. These offered opportunities to meet employers face to face and understand the sort of candidates and transferable skills they were looking for. I learned to encourage dialogue and received constructive comments on my CV. This enabled me to constantly refine and tailor it to target specific roles.

Whilst networking and attending various events, it became clear that many of the skills I had attained during my military career translated directly to the construction industry. Employers appreciate this and are eager to buy into what Service Leavers have to bring to the workplace.”

Styles & Wood is a property support services company that offers the full range of professional and contracting services required to manage clients’ real estate and property asset needs. Mark met the company through an event at Catterick Garrison. They presented themselves really well and had a clear ambition to recruit ex-Forces personnel. He was asked to go for a job a few weeks later and was lucky enough to be offered a position after the first interview.

During a 12 month career break after leaving the Navy, Mark realised the benefit of properly researching appropriate job vacancies and discovering how best to market himself confidently to employers. Through a mentoring scheme being piloted up by The Royal British Legion, he was provided with the perfect opportunity to learn more about the industry.

“The scheme enabled me to select a mentor from a choice of best matched networking contacts. I chose Nigel Blackburn, an ex – Army WO1 and now a project manager at WYG. WYG is a global project management and technical consultancy. It has always had a strong bond with the Armed Forces and a long history of working alongside Service personnel.

Nigel had a profile which exactly suited my interests and as our mentoring relationship developed he was able to organise a week’s work experience at their office in Leeds. I found this extremely valuable.”

A work placement lets a Service Leaver get a real insight into the civilian workplace and engage with what could be a potential future employer. For Mark it was also useful to see how hard and soft skills gained through a military career can fit in to a civilian working environment.

(Based on a case study from the Royal British Legion.)


mark watmough
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