Battlespace to Boardroom - by Pete Carr - from military service to civilian career

“CONTACT, casualties wait out!”  – a phrase that no middle manager in an Infantry Battlegroup Operations Room, in the middle of a conflict zone, wants to hear.

The crackling radio communication networks – staffed 24/7 – go immediately quiet!

All mundane chat ceases, and authority to speak passes solely to the instigator of those four words.

Its simplistic, unambiguous nature indicates that an engagement involving an enemy force, with the potential loss of life, has taken place.

This is communication at its best; a military transferable skill taught to all commanders at all levels.

This following words describe a journey of discovery for Peter Carr, Seetec Operations Manager in the North West.

Stage 1: Transition – from military service to civilian life
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In 2021, against the backdrop of a global economic shutdown due to the COVID-19 pandemic, I found myself transitioning from a 27-year military career to civilian life.

The world was uncertain, and unemployment rates soared.

As I returned to the UK, I faced isolation, financial insecurity, and the daunting task of finding the right job.

My military experience had equipped me with valuable skills – some specific to the battlefield, others universally applicable.

Pete Carr in UniformThese combat-chiselled abilities could enhance productivity in a corporate environment.

But as I stepped into my first civilian role as a middle manager at Seetec, I realised there was more to learn.

Discovering transferable skills

To bridge the gap, I pursued an MBA in Strategic Leadership and Management.

My dissertation focused on transferable skills for veterans entering civilian management roles.

The British Army, too, recognised the importance of these skills and continued to teach them to its middle managers.

The Top Five Skills: A veteran’s perspective

Veterans identified a range of transferable skills, but their priorities varied based on the jobs they sought.

Through transition programmes, the military highlighted numerous skills.

When asked to rank their importance, veterans emphasized the following:

  1. Initiative: The ability to take proactive steps and drive positive change.
  2. Time Management: Efficiently allocating time and resources to achieve goals.
  3. Leadership: Inspiring and guiding teams toward success.
  4. Planning: Strategically organising tasks and resources.
  5. Communications: Effective interaction and conveying ideas.

These skills, honed through military service, were now assets in the corporate boardroom.

The Top Five Skills: A civilian employer’s perspective
Pete Carr at work in Birkenhead

A recruiting company shed light on the skills that civilian employers would emphasise:

  1. Teamwork: Collaborating effectively within diverse groups.
  2. Problem-Solving Skills: Tackling challenges with creativity and resourcefulness.
  3. Leadership: Guiding and inspiring others toward shared goals.
  4. Communication: Articulating ideas clearly and fostering understanding.
  5. Flexibility: Adapting to changing circumstances and remaining agile.

Interestingly, leadership and communication emerged as common threads in both sets of skills.

Additionally, skills like planning and problem-solving showed a degree of parity.

While identified by separate entities, all these skills held universal importance.

Recognising the power of transferable skills

Pete Carr with his comrades

Middle management employers understand that certain skills are unique to military service, shaped by the discipline and commitment required in the field.

However, they also recognise that many of these skills – forged through combat – are valuable assets within a corporate structure.

These battle-tested abilities can significantly enhance productivity in a target-driven environment.

The British Army’s holistic approach

The British Army imparts knowledge and skills through a blend of practical and theoretical methods.

From the moment a recruit joins, classroom-based theory combines with hands-on practicality.

Soldiers learn to function independently and as part of a team, developing valuable interpersonal (soft) and technical (hard) skills.

Employers recognise the strong work ethic cultivated during operational deployments—a trait veterans can leverage to their advantage (Indeed, 2021).

Stage 2: Finding the right fit

Pete Carr saluting the Union FlagAs I embarked on my journey from military service to civilian life, I realised that finding the right job was more than a matter of employment: it was about aligning with my values.

I sought a role where I could apply my professional standards and conduct myself appropriately and professionally.

Additionally, I needed a position that recognised the unique blend of military and civilian leadership skills I possessed.

It wasn’t an easy task. Seetec provided that opportunity.

Although I sometimes wonder if people truly grasp the depth of my experiences when I provide competence based answers, I’ve navigated managerial challenges, albeit in a different context than this civilian arena.


Stage 3: The journey continues

Ronald Reagon, 40th President of the United StatesThree-and-a-half years into my role in employability management, I find managing colleagues (who are in the high-pressure environment of engaging with participants on their path to sustainable employment) incredibly rewarding.

Colleagues at Seetec (an employee owned company) operate within a values-based organisation, which fosters a positive work environment.

However, in my opinion, continuous personal development remains an area that requires attention – from both individuals and the management structure.

The employability sector itself could benefit from clearer job role definitions, better progression pathways, and enhanced accreditation.

As I closely observe the leaders guiding this diverse organisation, I’m impressed by their commitment to aligning with the behaviours I hold dear:

  • Lead by example
  • Encourage thinking
  • Apply reward and discipline
  • Demand high performance
  • Encourage confidence in the team
  • Recognise individual strengths and weaknesses
  • Strive for team goals

Close quotesChange is inevitable, and Seetec has weathered significant shifts in recent years.

Effective change management remains critical, but with a solid middle management structure and strong leadership, the future looks promising.

The British Army | Armed Forces Day 2024 | Seetec’s Armed Forces Employment Support

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