Interview with Pete Davies on military resettlement

So Peter can you tell me a bit about your current role?

So at the moment I am the regional director for Wales, essentially an operations manager – I facilitate any fundraising activities in Wales, from small, medium and large scale enterprises to even small individual efforts, with that I have to make sure they, as well as ourselves, abide by the laws and regulations set.

How do you get involved with the Soldiers’ Charity?

About 2 years ago I decided to leave the British Army and my best mate Chris, an ex-Soldier himself was raising money for alziemers research having got diagnosed with early onset alziemers at the age of 37. As I did my cycling tour in America from DC to New York for charity I thought about charity in general a lot, despite falling off the bike plenty!

My initial reaction was that the Soldiers’ Charity was full of retired officers, but I found that when I went for the interview this was not the case, which really filled me with enthusiasm and changed my perception as a whole and got me to speaking to you now.

What was your military career like towards the end and joining the Soldier’s Charity?

At first very daunting, going from being top of your game, surrounded by 600 men and women in your Regiment to then being thrown into the deep end in Wales with a small team.

I completed just short of 23 years’ service, 13 operational tours to 40 countries so a lot of travel. When I left my last job I was responsible for approximately 70-75% of the world’s military postal courier footprint, including diplomatic services as well, so quite a big job, I had approximately 208 solider that were directly mine and they were spread across 20 countries, the busiest job I’ve ever had in my life, by a mile, but I enjoyed it, I do miss it sometimes, I miss it.

How did you find the transition from military to civilian life, stressing the ‘life’ bit?

You try to be as best prepared for it as you can be, most when they leave they find that the shock is quite enormous, I think the hardest thing for people for those leaving the army in particular is fitting into something, the Army is not just a job, it’s a lifestyle, but it’s actually a calling too, nearly all those will say it’s the people that the miss the most – the banter, the comradery, and more. But I believe the charity sector has done well for me, firstly it’s not the corporate sector which means it’s smaller and more full on.

I’d say the biggest problem regarding guys when they leave is just finding that fit, and it is terrifying and it’s not just the young soldiers, it’s also the senior Soldiers, for them to go from that to hitting the ground running so to speak. It’s belonging to something, fitting into something, and I was lucky to find a job role that gives me that.

What are the good things for you working in the charity sector and what is the most rewarding part of your job?

I think the reality is that any serviceman or woman will always give above and beyond what is asked of them, that’s a fact. It’s perceived that the charity sector may not as busy as other sectors, I disagree with that, I think charity sector is becoming a lot more business-like, you buy into the organisation and what it’s doing, the charity that I am working for helped bury one of my friends, you can’t just make it up or buy into it, it gets into your DNA, so straight away you want to go above and beyond for it, I’m sure it’s the same for the rest of the charity sector, my mum died from cancer so I’ve done stuff for them, it felt like the right thing to do and that will help you in this sector.

With the Charity sector it’s not just a job, but like the Army a calling too, a lot of it is personal as well, you really have to believe in what you are doing, not like believing in a product, or else it is just a job and what’s the point.

What would be your advice to any service leavers who are considering joining the charity sector?

I’d say don’t be scared by it, open your eyes a little bit, don’t restrict yourself, I think the charity sector is often over-looked, people like myself and Stu who are seeing their friends going through who are wondering themselves, the problem there is, dare I say it, when you go through the transition of leaving that year, you put yourself in a box, like a logistics box, or health and safety box or any of that stuff, the reality is that the skill set that you have from the Army, actually works across more industries than you think, because you are many things in the Army, and working in a charity is project managing all day long, and you can say that you do all of that as you have commanded, led and managed Soldiers yourself, Soldiers are fantastic at organising things, far far better than they may realise, the things you take away from the Army are actually very attractive to the Civilian world, most people in the Army are very honest and very hard working so they have a lot to bring to the party.

Finally anything else you’ve got to add?

If someone is leaving the Army or military in general, sit down and really get a reality check of what the opportunities are out there, if you want to work in Wales be realistic in what you want to achieve, but also match your experiences with what you want to do, if you can match what you want and what you have together it is much easier to apply from the outside so employers can see exactly what you can bring to the party. The biggest thing is the military in general are really really bad at is selling themselves, because in the Army you don’t blow your own trumpet you just get on with it, you should be very proud of what you’ve done and it is very attractive to civilians, do go blow your trumpet, it’s not embarrassing, it’s what everyone else is doing.