Final Rank: LCpl
Years Served: 6 Years
Having served in the REME for just over six years, specialising as a vehicle mechanic, LCpl Stephen Beck left the Service in 2004 as ‘I wanted more control over my life. I had young children and wanted regular contact with them.’ Now 34 and running the Finance Department of a firm of solicitors, his first job on leaving the Forces was quite different: repairing buses for First National.
‘I was a qualified vehicle mechanic before I joined the Army, although I did gain my HGV driving licence while serving.’ He says, ‘the most important thing I learned [in the Army] was that my confidence had grown to the point where I believe I can achieve anything that I apply myself to.
‘Once I gained employment as a mechanic I enrolled at City College Plymouth to study GCSE maths and English by means of evening studies. I was impressed by the level of support provided and, once I had completed the course, returned to the college on an accounting and finance foundation degree, for which I was able to use my ELC. Because the course ran in the evening it allowed me to work full-time too. The training was excellent, with staff clearly showing a real passion for the subjects they were teaching, and the range of subjects gave a real insight into all aspects of business.
‘On completion of my foundation degree I was able to gain entry at the University of Plymouth, where the qualifications I had gained at college allowed me to join the final year of an accounting and finance degree. This was full-time so I had to resign from my employment, although the fees were partly paid by the remainder of my ELC.
‘The year I spent at the university was fantastic. The workload and pressure helped forge great friendships between people, which was much as I had experienced in the Army. I completed my course in 2009 and graduated with an honours degree – something I had wanted for a long time.’
His current job involves ‘All financial aspects, including running the pay roll, dealing with client money within the strict Solicitors Accounting Rules (SAR), providing financial information, forecasting and ledger control. I have learned so much in the short time I have been here [six months]. My career is much more in my own hands now: I am currently studying towards the Association of Chartered Certified Accountants qualification at my own pace, and feel that my future position will reflect my ability.’