Michael Anderson spoke to RIBA North East about life after the armed forces as part of their #FacesofArchitecture campaign.
At 16, I began a year of military training to learn basic soldiering skills, such as survival in the field, weapons training and battle tactics, before completing technical trade training and specialising in land systems engineering, leaving the forces at the rank of Lance Corporal as part of an armoured reconnaissance unit. In my six year military career, I was tasked on conflict and peace keeping operations across the globe, in addition to a range of adventure training exercises such as skydiving, caving and competing at a high standard of boxing. From a young age, I learnt key transferrable skills such as leading and working in a team to complete complex tasks, punctuality and working in high pressure environments, usually in arduous conditions.
These transferrable skills have stayed with me throughout my career and in my personal life. Certain skills ingrained into ex members of the military, such as working to a strong code of ethics and standards and working as a team to complete a joint end goal, are advantageous in any industry.
However, despite ex servicemen and women having these diverse skills, the transition to civilian life can be extremely challenging and difficult to adapt to. Personally, the Army was all I had ever known professionally, having joined at such a young age – I had never needed to search for a job, had a job interview or was required to commute to work. All these seemingly basic aspects of professional life outside of the forces proved to be extremely challenging.
This is why the AFC is so important. Organisations that join the covenant help bridge the gap between leaving the military and starting a new career, employing the technical and fundamental skills learnt in the forces.
Initially after leaving the Army, I spent three years working overseas and travelling. During this time, I worked as part of a site team for Pacific Plus Constructions (PPC) in Australia. While working for PPC, I realised that the construction industry provided a platform for me to utilise my previous technical skills in a diverse and collaborative industry into a career that was challenging and encouraged growth. I also loved the architectural aspect!
After returning to the UK and completing a foundation year in built environment studies at London South Bank University, I was successful in the three stage interview process and was employed by Ryder, returning to the north east after almost 10 years away.
Ryder has given me the opportunity to work full time in a diverse profession that challenges me whilst completing a degree in construction engineering management. I have been able to use previous transferrable skills whilst gaining valuable technical knowledge and develop new skills in a career I am passionate about. Ryder share similar values and standards to the Armed Forces, the grappling hook value has allowed me to apply myself amongst various disciplines of the construction industry as well as work overseas, giving me the opportunity to become a well rounded construction professional. Since joining Ryder, I have also been lucky enough to start a family – the main reason for my departure from the forces.