Armed Forces Week – Day 3

In the last of our Armed Forces Week posts we profile 3 more veterans working at Tetra Tech sharing insight from their experience of what it is like to move on from a career in the Forces.

Today it’s the turn of Directors James Simonds and Jamie Smith as well as Principal, Andy Goodhew all of whom work within our Project Management business.

James served over 33 years as a Royal Engineer officer going through the Chartered Engineer route as a Civil Engineer. He spent the last 15 years of his Army career in Defence Infrastructure.

In that role he had routine engagement with the civilian consultants providing technical support services and worked closely with WYG (now Tetra Tech) when they were at Camp Bastion in Afghanistan. James said, ‘I found my transition out of the services into consulting reasonably simple as I was an internal consultant with the Army and employed consultants in support of projects. I knew a number of ex Royal Engineers who had gone into consulting and was therefore able to discuss with them their transition.’

James’ role within Tetra Tech involves managing the Army portfolio of work which makes use not only his personal skills but also his considerable knowledge of the Defence estate and how Defence Infrastructure works. He also has a number of trusted relationships client side.

When asked about the main benefit companies get from employing ex-services personnel James says, ‘It is the work ethic based on self-discipline. If something needs doing it gets done and if we are asked to do it, we do it. We have confidence in what we can do and are able to prioritise and evaluate how to achieve the aim. We are also great team-players’

Andy spent 22 years in the Royal Engineers taking a route which led to professional engineering design and project management and becoming a Warrant Officer Class 1. Like James he worked alongside Tetra Tech at Camp Bastion.

When asked about his transition from the forces Andy says ‘I had planned quite far ahead about when I would leave the Army so had time to think about what I would do to make the change seamless. One of my last projects in the Army was working with colleagues at Tetra Tech on the Mina Salman project in Bahrain which worked as form of job interview to join the business when my forces contract ended’.

Speaking about where his Army colleagues sought career advice when they left Andy mentioned Buildforce, a not-for-profit organisation that helps Veterans looking to work in the construction sector. He says, ‘They give valuable guidance and have links with lots of organisations looking to take on Veterans. I found some of their workshops really useful’.

Currently working as a site supervisor on a project in Belize, Andy says he understands the local challenges of working away from home having travelled all over the world with the Army. He says ‘I have the confidence to make decisions when needed and am adaptable and unfazed by whatever challenges I am presented with. I will always strive to find a solution to work around a problem’.

Jamie was also in the Royal Engineers holding a variety of positions from bomb disposal officer to Senior Instructor in Engineering, rising to the rank of Major.

He says that he always had one eye on what he would do after the Forces, thinking about where his training and skills could lead him. He applied for a few roles, but it was colleagues who had left a short time before him that introduced him to WYG, feeling it was a good fit for him and the company.

Jamie says that his Army training has prepared him well for the type of role he now undertakes. He says ‘we have world-class training in how to lead a team and manage people, we are also taught problem solving skills that can be applied in all manner of situations and after a while your brain just starts to think that way’.

One of the benefits Jamie sees in having Veterans as part of your team is that they are very adaptable to change. ‘An officer changes role every 2 years, you get used to doing thorough handovers and picking up new information quickly’.

His advice for those leaving the Forces and looking for a role in this industry is to ‘take your time’. Jamie says ‘you probably don’t know all the options available and where you would best fit in, maybe look at a contractor position first, there are agencies specialising in finding security cleared contractors. This will let you get to know the industry and look at what you would like to do more permanently’.

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