Honouring Armed Forces Week: Jamie’s Story

Submitted by Connie Maddock | 24/06/2024

As Vertas Group reflects on the remarkable service and sacrifices made by the armed forces, the company is pleased to spotlight the stories of its ex-armed forces colleagues.

This Armed Forces Week, Vertas Group is celebrating the remarkable journeys of its ex-forces colleagues who have transitioned from military service to civilian careers. As a forces-friendly employer, we are delighted to recognise the incredible value and unique perspectives ex-military personnel bring to the business.

We caught up with Jamie McLaughlin, Area Cleaning Manager, who spoke about what it was like to transition to the civilian world with the support of Vertas Group. Jamie joined the company two years ago and, despite initial challenges, found similarities in business structure and core values, which made the transition smoother.

Thank you for agreeing to share your story.Can you tell me about your background before joining Vertas Group?

I joined the military in 2008 and completed multiple deployments, notable ones to Afghanistan and Iraq. My best role while serving was stationed in Cyprus, just 10 minutes from Ayia Napa, for two and a half years. I left the military on the 6th of April, 2022, and this was coincidentally my first day at Vertas Group—by luck more than design.

I don’t think there is any job that would be a like-for-like exchange for the military. However, there are similarities, the structure is a great example. Additionally, Vertas Group has its core values that are not too dissimilar to the military. This helps set out the spine of the organisation and shows what you are becoming part of.

We do a lot of work through Teams, so I initially met people remotely but not in person. It was by meeting the wider teams in person that I was pleasantly surprised to find out that there is a lot of ex-military employed. This instantly gives common ground and makes you realise that Vertas Group see the value of our unique skill set.

How has Vertas Group supported you as an ex-forces colleague? Are there any programmes that have been particularly helpful?

I was put on the Aspire 2 Inspire course to help further my skill set as a manager. I was pleasantly surprised at how much the training mirrored previous military leadership courses. It was helpful to have these lessons delivered from a civilian business perspective. One of the biggest takeaways from the course was the emotional intelligence area and learning how to adapt my management style to best suit a civilian business. 

How does the company promote the skills gained from your service?

The most relatable skill set I feel I have brought from my time in the military is that no plan survives first contact. You can have the best planned week, and then it will all be put out of place with factors beyond your control. It’s here I feel ex-forces employees thrive, being able to take a moment and move my team, assets or attention to areas that will ensure the best delivery and return. I have always been led by people who never ask others to do something they wouldn’t, so I try to embody this with my teams and show them we are all working towards a common goal.

In what way does Vertas Group provide support and development opportunities for veterans and ex-forces personnel post-transition?

I have struggled with my transition into civilian life; one of the key areas has come from working in a large team at a unit of 120 Gunners to some days only seeing people remotely. I learned that Vertas Group supports its employees in becoming cadet instructors, TAs, etc. I inquired if this included the Fire Service and was advised it would. I applied and successfully became an on-call firefighter.

I had to commit to six weeks of evening training that culminated in a two-week basic training package. Vertas Group gave me the time off (unpaid) to complete this and has supported my development as a firefighter. I’ve completed two further courses since starting, my favourite being the breathing apparatus course.

This opportunity has given me a great balance of working as part of a larger team again and giving back to the community. It has helped me immeasurably in finding my feet outside of the military. It is also not something widely offered by employers, and it is commendable that Vertas Group recognises the social value it adds.

How does Vertas Group promote a culture of understanding for veterans and ex-forces personnel?

I have many friends who have been through or are in the process of leaving the military. I feel Vertas Group recognise the value these colleagues bring to the business and is keen to nurture existing skills. A company’s culture is shaped by its people, and we have a lot of ex-military, from our CEO down. However, we also have a lot of people who have family and friends who have served, and together, we embrace the value forces leavers add to our teams and company as a whole.

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