Women In Business

Veterans offer business an army of potential

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As a woman serving in the military for 21 years, I have been fortunate to have had the opportunity of working alongside some incredibly talented individuals who, with the right transition process and mentoring, would undoubtedly prove to be exceptional assets within the civilian workforce.

Each year, thousands of people leave the defence forces, and as they re-enter civilian life, we’re challenged to think about how best to support them as they look for somewhere they belong.

I have been lucky enough to find meaningful and fulfilling employment after my service with people and businesses that I love, and while being able to spend time with my family. But for some, separating from the military is not as easy or positive as it could be, and they may face significant social, financial, employment and wellbeing challenges.

In the military you become accustomed to a particular way of life that focuses very much around your team – your comrades are literally your lifeline, and the military becomes your second family.

So, it’s easy for returning veterans to feel lost afterwards, and to crave a sense of belonging and that drive for accomplishments. Often, that feeling of being misplaced or losing that sense of ‘purpose’ can result in depression, anxiety, unemployment and even homelessness.

That’s why finding employment is such a major part of the return to civilian life and is often seen as a crucial gateway in the transition process from the services. But through my work at Sage, we are finding that that the heroes that serve our country share many of the same values as small and medium-sized business owners — to look deeper, reach higher, and strive harder.

And when you look at the traits and skills needed to be a successful entrepreneur, you quickly find yourself describing the traits that we see most in military veterans; resilient, meticulously organised, relentlessly driven and 100 percent committed.

The skills and experiences you gain from the armed services are incredibly transferrable: maximising the ability to work under pressure, demonstrate leadership, effectively communicate and to organise teams. Even when veterans leave the military thinking they have no ‘business skills’ they often don’t realise just how much they are able to do.

Having left the military, I now work closely with a number of charities and non-profit partners as part of my role as a Military Ambassador for Sage. Supporting returning military veterans is a key pillar of Sage Foundation, and our commitments run throughout the entire organisation.

Service personnel come in all shapes and sizes, so one-size-fits-all approaches to supporting their transition back to civilian life simply don’t work. While some may be suited to life working for a big corporate, some would find themselves completely lost and are far better suited to life as an entrepreneur.

All attempts to support veterans find employment after they transition out of the armed forces should be applauded, but it’s important for businesses to understand that not everyone is necessarily suited to life in an office.

Our military is our greatest untapped business asset; a pool of potential entrepreneurs that just need a little support and a push in the right direction to realise what they are capable of.

About Victoria Gosling

Victoria Gosling OBE is a former Royal Airforce Group Captain, Helicopter Base Commander and now Sage Military Ambassador. Vicky worked with HRH The Duke of Sussex on the foundation of the Invictus Games and knows first-hand what it is like for veterans returning to the corporate world.

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