Ex-Forces

Constable to Consultant: How FDM Helped an Ex-Officer Rebuild Her Career

Paul Brown
20.04.23

After 16-years as a frontline worker on the police force, Jo Morris was ready for a change. So, when an opportunity to explore a new career path presented itself, she decided to take it. Jo completed the FDM Ex-Forces and Ex-Blue Light programme and is currently working as an IT Project Manager for an international bank.  

She spoke to us about some of the common reasons police officers consider moving to civilian roles and mentioned the real-life challenges policemen and women face on the job.

There were an estimated 164000 police officers in the UK in 2022 compared to 172000 in 2010.

However, as Jo pointed out, those working in law enforcement face various challenges that could prompt them to consider leaving their jobs, including burnout, stress, a lack of opportunities for career progression, and exposure to traumatic events without proper follow-up support. Additionally, personal reasons such as a desire for a career change, prioritizing family obligations, or pursuing alternative interests, may also contribute to their decision. 

Police career  

During her time on the force Jo dealt with multiple high-stress situations, but felt that she didn’t receive the necessary support she needed for her mental health and well-being. As a result, she struggled with severe PTSD, anxiety and flashbacks on leaving the force. She said, ‘We see some horrific things and the support we get is not enough…and this brings up the flashbacks.’ 

Life after leaving the force 

A year after leaving the force Jo started a job but soon realised that the role didn’t align to her unique strengths and interests. She eventually left feeling demotivated and finally found FDM who gave her hope and showed her the right pathway. 

Transferable skills 

Jo mentioned that a common dilemma for police officers who spend several years on the force is that they often become ‘institutionalised’. This means they forget how to think of or describe their skills and experience outside of their current roles and environment. For example – if they’ve worked as a sergeant for many years, they will have picked up solid leadership skills. This is a highly sought-after soft skill for senior positions across a majority of civilian roles. 

FDM training  

Jo loved the training at FDM and although it was intense, she enjoyed every minute of it. ‘I love being busy and being put in situation where I feel challenged. This is what I was used to in the police.’ She further said that the training offered her a chance to learn something new everyday which facilitated her personal development. Jo further reflected on some of the similarities between core military and police skillsets and attitudes.    

She acknowledged struggling with certain aspects of the training programme. ‘With me not being very academic, it was intense especially during the Prince and Scrum exams.’ However, the trainers made sure to break down and explain new topics in clear and jargon-free language that was easily digestible. So ‘corporate-speak’ was effectively translated into regular terms that you understood.  

According to Jo, one of the most common questions people ask when you leave the police is what your skills transfer to. She emphasises that you need to understand how to translate and market your skills in the corporate world. Problem solving, decision making, resilience are all core skills you learn serving on the police force and ones that you can use to great advantage in a civilian job. High-stress conditions like a hostage situation which is a common reality for a majority of police officers call for critical problem solving as well as fast decision-making under pressure. These are key skills for most project management roles.   

Support at FDM 

FDM’s Ex-Forces Programme is run by ex-military personnel who understand the unique challenges and backgrounds of those transitioning to a civilian career after leaving the forces. Jo spoke of the many similarities between military skillsets and the police and even the ambulance services. One of the best things she loves about FDM is the support she received from people who came from similar backgrounds and therefore ‘understood where you’re coming from’. She also spoke of the camaraderie among her cohort and how they helped each other through the training.  

Looking ahead 

Jo’s parting words for anyone considering a career change after the forces is, ‘you can get another career that can be just as rewarding and where you feel valued.’ She is grateful for the opportunity to pivot and find a new direction professionally. At FDM she received a guided preparation for her new role and working on client-side she feels valued and is given autonomy over her work.  

At FDM we provide opportunities for service leavers, military veterans, serving reservists, blue light services workers, and their spouses. Join the 800+ personnel who have completed our training since 2014 and apply to our Ex Forces Programme today.