From Navy Engineering Training Manager to Emerging Talent Manager

A Royal Navy career training recruits gave Tony Ellender the experience to take on the responsibility for the development of around 1200 graduates, apprentices and trainees across the UK for Balfour Beatty.

Lieutenant Tony Ellender served as Engineering Training Manager responsible for training, education, resettlement and career development for officers and ratings at sea and ashore.

‘My final role was on the staff at Britannia Royal Naval College in Dartmouth, training new recruits during their initial officer training.  A typical day would start early with an 0600 physical activity/beasting and a full day of military and professional training in and around the college, on the river or on Dartmoor. The evening would see Rounds with inspections of the Officer Cadets’ cabins, often followed by some form of formal social event (purely for training purposes of course!)

‘The kind of skills I gained in the Navy included decision-making; seeing the detail and marrying it up with the bigger picture; presentation skills; thinking on your feet; resilience; course design; verbal and written communication.

‘In my work now I am responsible for the development of Graduates, Apprentices and Trainees across the UK (around 1200 people) on a variety of programmes at a variety of levels.  I lead on strategy, programme design, talent identification, social value and government/industry engagement and policy.

‘My current role is UK-wide so it often involves an early train for a meeting with a professional body or university.  I may then be attending a Graduate course to listen to and assess presentations, followed by an internal meeting to discuss future intakes.

‘Military skills and behaviours are directly transferable and are often better developed in a military environment.  What is new is the new knowledge requirements but because in the military you change jobs every two years or so, so you are already used to learning quickly and having to make a credible impact in a short space of time.

‘In the final year of my commission, I applied for dozens of L&D jobs and was lucky enough to be taken on by the largest company in a rewarding and interesting industry.  I had completed a Masters’ Degree and high level NVQ to civilianise my naval experience and skills and offer credibility.

‘My advice would be keep an open mind, be flexible on industry and location and research the companies that invited you to interview.  Resilience and persistence were important as most of the companies I applied to had little or no knowledge or experience of Service Leavers’ skills sets.

‘Start your resettlement early, research where the job roles are and where the shortages are.  Map what skills and knowledge you already have to determine the extent to which you already have a head start and then fill in the gaps with the appropriate qualifications and work placements.  Be realistic but don’t dumb yourself down – you have already got more of the skills required than you think!’

‘Three words I would use to describe a career in the construction industry are rewarding, dynamic and fun. Three words I would use to describe an ex-Military person to a recruiter from the construction industry are flexible, resilient and dynamic.  Four words would be better – “When can they start?”

Tony Ellender
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