Supporting the Armed Forces Covenant: Part Three

Ahead of Armed Forces Day, Andrew Johnson discusses his experience in the British Armed Forces and the importance of the Armed Forces Covenant.

At the age of 18, I began 10 weeks of military training known as Phase One, which is for all adult soldiers and is where you learn what it means to be a soldier.

It developed my individual and team skills in a progressive manner, whilst preparing me for Phase Two Combat Engineer training to join the Corps of Royal Engineers.  As a fully qualified sapper (combat engineer), I progressed to technical trade training and specialised as a plant operator mechanic – operating and maintaining construction, earthmoving equipment.  Civil engineering always excited me, so I joined the technical roster and became a civil engineer, leaving the forces as a senior soldier.

In my 24 years of service I grasped every opportunity that was thrown at me.  I served all over the globe on conflicts, peace keeping operations and training exercises.  Having learnt key military skills, I was selected to become an instructor delivering military engineering, physical and weapons training to recruits.  It was really satisfying to watch recruits grow into abled soldiers, working as individuals and as a team to complete tasks.  Even more satisfying is teaching them civil engineering, as senior soldiers, to deliver infrastructure projects in high pressure environments, usually in arduous conditions.

I have always adopted a high performance attitude throughout my career and in my personal life. This is closely linked to the leadership and management skills I have taken from the military for which I was awarded by The Queen.  Even though I have left the military, I still have a strong working ethic and passion for creating a powerful organisational culture.

Despite having all this experience, education, and transferable skills, the transition to civilian life has been difficult.  Working for a highly collaborative organisation led by enforced values, standards, and discipline for 24 years has made it difficult to adapt to new ways of working.  I know now I crave structure, processes, technology and engaging with people, I think this subconsciously led me towards Building Information Modelling (BIM) in the construction industry.

It was my choice to leave the Army after serving a full career. Upon reflection for life after the Army, I prepared myself academically very well and this was assisted by working, networking, and engaging with the construction industry. This provided a platform for me to utilise my managerial and technical skills in a diverse and collaborative industry.

It was a contributing factor that I chose BIM Academy, as Ryder recognises those who have performed military duties, united the country, and demonstrated the value of their contribution. As a Defence Employer Recognition Scheme (ERS) Silver award holder, Ryder actively ensures its people are aware of veterans, as they share the same values and standards. Working with a knowledgeable team has allowed me to gain valuable technical knowledge and develop new skills in a subject I am passionate about.

Ryder has allowed me to work from home, which was a luxury in the military. I can now be a present husband and father, whilst also making the dinners too – although I do miss the long annual leave!