Celebrating Armed Forces Day

28th June 2024

Reading time 6 minutes

To celebrate Armed Forces Day, we have interviewed our HSQE & Support Services Director, Andy Flannagan on his time in the army. Starting as a Trooper, where he was a medium reconnaissance gunner, over his 24 years in the forces he experienced a wide array of roles.

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?

Transitioning from the armed forces to civilian life involved significant adjustments, the biggest challenges were translating military skills to civilian job requirements, managing stress and mental health, and adapting to a different social and professional environment. To overcome these challenges I engaged in community groups, whilst also continuously developing new skills through education to ensure a successful and fulfilling transition.

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?

The skills and experiences I gained in the armed forces have significantly influenced my work and daily life as a civilian. In the workplace, military training instils strong leadership, management capabilities, discipline, and a rigorous work ethic, ensuring reliability and high performance. The adaptability and problem-solving skills developed in the military were invaluable in my current role which requires quick decision-making and flexibility, enhancing my professional effectiveness.

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?

During my military service, I acquired transferable skills such as leadership, discipline, adaptability, and problem-solving, which I apply in my civilian career by effectively managing teams, maintaining high standards of performance, adapting to changing circumstances, and resolving complex issues efficiently.

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

My military background has instilled a disciplined, strategic approach to problem-solving and decision-making, emphasising quick, effective action and thorough analysis. For example, in my civilian roles, I successfully led numerous projects by quickly identifying key issues, developing a strategic plan, and efficiently coordinating team efforts to meet tight deadlines.

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?

My military experience has equipped me with the ability to adapt quickly to new environments and collaborate effectively within diverse teams. For instance, in a civilian project where our team had members from various backgrounds and expertise levels, my experience in the military helped me foster cohesion, leverage each team member’s strengths, and navigate challenges efficiently to achieve our objectives. This readiness to adapt stems from years of facing different challenges and environments during deployments and training exercises.

What strategies have you employed to manage the transition from a highly structured military environment to a comparatively flexible civilian workplace? How do you maintain discipline and focus in your role?

To manage the transition from a structured military environment to a more flexible civilian workplace, I have focused on setting clear goals, establishing routines, and adapting military discipline to prioritise tasks effectively. I maintain discipline and focus in my current role through meticulous planning, regular self-assessment, and a commitment to meeting deadlines and exceeding expectations.

Have you encountered any misconceptions or stereotypes about military veterans in your civilian life or career? How have you addressed or challenged those misconceptions?

During my civilian career which now spans some 20+ years, I have occasionally encountered misconceptions or stereotypes about military veterans, such as assumptions about rigid thinking or difficulty adapting to civilian environments. I address these misconceptions positively by actively engaging with colleagues and peers, demonstrating flexibility, leadership, and problem-solving abilities honed during my military service. By consistently delivering high-quality work and fostering open communication, I strive to challenge these stereotypes and highlight the valuable skills and perspectives veterans bring to diverse workplaces.

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 prioritise maintaining mental health by employing effective stress management techniques. The coping mechanisms I developed in the military, such as structured routines, physical fitness, and mindfulness practices, significantly contribute to my resilience. These strategies help me stay focused, manage pressure effectively, and navigate challenges with a positive mindset, ensuring I can consistently perform at my best while maintaining a healthy work-life balance.

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?

In the military, I held leadership roles where I was responsible for guiding teams through complex operations and fostering a cohesive environment. These experiences taught me valuable skills in strategic planning, effective communication, and motivating others under high-pressure situations. In my civilian career, I apply these leadership skills by managing and mentoring colleagues to develop their potential and promoting collaboration and teamwork to achieve business success.

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?

Yes, I actively stay connected to and support other veterans and service members in my community. I have found meaningful ways to give back by volunteering with my local regimental organisations, i also offer guidance to fellow veterans navigating their transition to civilian life. These efforts have allowed me to contribute positively to the veteran community .

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

If you’re leaving the forces and considering a career in the Support Services Industry,  I would highly encourage you to pursue it. At Carlisle Support Services, there is robust support, development opportunities, and genuine avenues for progression within each division. The company values the skills and discipline gained from military service, offering training programs, career advancement paths, and a supportive environment that fosters professional growth. Beyond Carlisle, the wider industry also provides numerous opportunities for veterans to leverage their experience and thrive in diverse roles. Transitioning to these sectors can be highly rewarding, with ample room for personal and career development.

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