“Failing to prepare is preparing to fail”

21st June 2023

Reading time 5 minutes

As we continue to celebrate Armed Forces Week, we bring forward another armed forces to civilian life transition story from one of our security staff members. Having joined the army on 16th January 1991 as a Combat Engineer at 17 years old, Franz served for 25 years and left as a Staff Sergeant.

Can you describe your transition from the armed forces to civilian life? What were the biggest challenges you faced during this period, and how did you overcome them?

The transition was quite difficult as I failed to prepare to transition towards having a civilian life. My first job was a customer centric as a Customer Service Advisor at a shopping centre, which helped me learn the value of customer service. I then moved into security as a Relief Officer, which I undertook to gain knowledge of the different roles within the Industry.

How have the skills and experiences you gained in the armed forces influenced your work or daily life as a civilian? Can you provide specific examples?

Definitely, the forces gave me clear guidance and training on how to break a mission down, plan and then execute.

As an example, I use the forces’ operational orders planning process on a weekly basis to deploy my Mobile Support Team.

What transferable skills did you acquire during your military service that have been particularly valuable in your civilian career? How do you apply these skills in your current role?

Two of the most important skills I have acquired is the ability to define a mission/goal and problem solve. The desire to take service delivery to the “next level” and succeed. I found that the key is to look for the problems that may be there that nobody is aware of and able to resolve.

How has your military background shaped your approach to problem-solving and decision-making? Can you give an example of a situation where you utilised these skills outside of the military?

A good old saying is “Failing to prepare is preparing to fail”. You must understand the requirement and create a clear plan that can be handed over for a colleague to process if needed.

A good example would be managing a small-scale operation at the M & S Bank Arena, MetroLink and mobilizing Avanti West Coast. All staff received a full briefing from me, including a detailed Operation Report ensuring everybody was in full understanding of the plan and how to deliver it.

In what ways has your military experience helped you adapt to new environments and work effectively within diverse teams? Can you share a specific instance where these skills were advantageous in?

The Military prides itself in equality and diversity and you are trained and educated accordingly whilst serving. I am fortunate to have travelled the world and experienced numerous cultures and had the chance to be involved in them. Society is multi-cultural, especially my Manchester deployment and I love the opportunity to talk with my guards to learn more about them and their heritage. At some point I observed 2 guards (Both of Afghanistan origin) in what seemed like a heated debate. Due to my knowledge of the area I managed to intervene and invited them to talk to me over Tea (Chai). We then communicated in a very civil manner and the issue was resolved.

How do you handle stress and pressure in your current work to maintain your mental health, do the coping mechanisms you developed in the military contribute to your resilience as a civilian?

I think it’s the experiences from the forces that have helped me build resilience. The military environment knows the values of being a Unit and having people that you know support you.

Can you discuss any leadership experiences you had in the military and how you have applied those leadership skills in your civilian career or personal life?

There were several occasions where things didn’t go according to plan on active duty. Any leader must be able to own up to their mistakes and take responsibility. Every time something went wrong with my plan, I conducted Dynamic Risk Assessments with my command structure to reset and move forward. The ability to believe in your own plan but be humble enough to ask for help when needed is invaluable.

Do you continue to stay connected to and support other veterans or service members in your community? Have you found ways to give back or assist fellow veterans in their transition to civilian life?

I do still keep in Touch with a number of Vets I served with, I am currently in talks with Forces Resettlement to conduct consultations to Army leavers as they start their journey. I do post on Facebook as well offering support and guidance to leavers.

What advice would you give to someone leaving the forces and considering a career in Security?

Plan your departure from the Forces well in advance. Keep current with Resettlement Courses available to you so you can tailor them to your needs (Division Dependent).

The transition after a full Military career can be a daunting prospect. However, utilise the Resettlement programme and understand your chosen industry requirements. Embrace Civilian Life!

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