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Celebrating Armed Forces Day: From PTI to IT

In celebration of Armed Forces Day (24th June) Consultants from our Ex-Forces Programme have been telling us about their transition journey from the military into civilian careers and how FDM has helped them do this.

First up we have Dennis who is now placed with RBS having successfully completed FDM’s ex-Forces traditional training stream.

I joined the British Army at the young age of 16 and spent the first year of my army career in training. At 17 I began serving with the 4th Battalion of the Royal Regiment of Scotland, the Highlanders, and was sent off to Germany. It was the first time I had been out of the UK and I felt very grown up! I then trained as a Physical Training Instructor (PTI) and worked with the troops in the gymnasium and spent much of my time working alongside the Gym Second in Command (2iC) before successfully being promoted to this role myself.

When I left the Army I wanted to open my own gym and started to look into getting my PTI qualification turned into a civvy recognised qualification. Through registering with the Career Transition Partnership (CTP), I attended a number of business courses covering finance and business structure. All my focus was on trying to open my own gym and I did not pay any attention to other opportunities. It was not until I had about a month left that I started to work out what I was going to do. I came to realise that opening a gym was going to involve more resources than I had available and to make it worse, I realised that I was not sufficiently qualified to work with civvys as a personal training instructor as it is completely different from working with soldiers. I joined FDM as I had heard positive feedback from a good friend of mine who had left the Highlanders a couple of years before me, and was working for them. His experience helped me decide that this could be the new start that I was looking for.

As I had no experience of a civvy job before joining the army I was not sure what to expect. The biggest change and challenge for me was to get used to living in the UK again.  Before leaving the Forces I went through the stages of being excited and then concerned. It was exciting to be starting a new era in my life, with new challenges and adventures, but as this was all happening at the same time as leaving Germany the situation made me anxious that there was too much going on.

When joining FDM I went down the traditional route following the Business stream. I am now placed in RBS working in their technology department, based at the bank’s headquarters in Edinburgh. I have been working with RBS now for almost two years as a ‘Change Relationship Manager’; very different from being a fitness instructor.

I’d probably say that my ability skills have helped me the most in this new role. When I was training as a PTI one of the most important skills to me was being able to coach others. This was not something I included on my CV; I never really saw how PT skills could be transferred into the IT industry. I recognise it now: being able to teach others and doing it in a clear and professional manner is something that employers like RBS value.

From my experience the best advice I can give to others leaving the Forces is to give yourself multiple options. Don’t do what I did and focus on one route (opening my own gym). Always give yourself a fall-back position just in case your first approach does not go to plan.

Updated 23 June, 2017

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