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Meet the Leeds Ex-Forces Team

Joanna Wilson and Craig Wilkinson - FDM

It’s day two of Armed Forces week and today we will be introducing you to our Ex-Forces team in Leeds. Our Ex-Forces programme runs across the world and aims to help Armed Forces personnel get the help and training they need to begin a new career in the corporate world. Our programme is run by ex-service personnel and employs ex-servicemen and women from all ranks and across all three services.

At FDM Our Ex Forces Ranks are made up of 45% Junior Ranks, 23% Senior NCOs and 32% Officers.

Joanna Wilson is an Academy Manager for FDM Leeds

I joined the Armed Forces on January 7th 2001 and served for 16 years with the Royal Corps of Signals in Communications and IT. I served in 10 different units over this time.

Best posting and why?

My best posting was at 11thSignal Regiment, Blandford, Dorset where I was the Officer in Command of a Training Squadron. We had 110 permanent staff and 300 trainees. Soldiers were undergoing technical training following on from their basic military skills package. Many of the courses were a year long, so I was able to see the soldiers develop over time, see them through highs (and lows!) and ultimately pop back out into the Field Army ready to do their job for real.

Worst posting and why?

Army Headquarters – Capability Development. This job was a technical role involving the development of future capability (mostly radios). I didn’t really enjoy it as it was a job where I was dealing with equipment and doctrine rather than managing people.

Most memorable moment?

I will always remember being stood on Horse Guards Parade Square alongside the Guards and the Royal Artillery in my ceremonial uniform on Remembrance Sunday to signal the firing of the gun at 1100 hours as Big Ben chimed. That, and marching down the Mall and saluting the Queen, I remember she was not smiling!

What is your top tip for someone transitioning from Armed Forces to civvy street?

Network, network, network. I didn’t start doing this until way too late in the leaving process.

Craig Wilkinson is the Head of ITSM Services

On the 9thSeptember 1996 I joined the Royal Corps of Signals in Telecommunications and IT. I stayed there for 11 years and I had some incredible memories, the best one has to be reaching the summit of Mount Kenya.

Best posting and why?

This is a tricky one! I would go with my first unit, 30 Signal Regiment. They were nicknamed the ‘Globetrotters’ due to their high tempo of supporting rapid, spearhead deployments anywhere in the world. During my time there I was deployed to work in the British Embassy Cairo, Real link detachment in Kenya, Oman, Bosnia, Denmark and Bahrain all the way through to being sat on a bunk bed in South Cerney as the millennium rolled over.

Worst posting and why?

Probably 3 Infantry Brigade in Northern Ireland. While I enjoyed my two years there, I had to watch friends and colleagues deploy on operations to Iraq and I wanted more than anything to be there with them.

What is your top tip for someone transitioning from Armed Forces to civvy street?

Approach the transition with an open mind and be prepared for change, there are plenty of people willing to support you, use them!


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