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Transferable talent recognised

Transferable talent recognised


11 Jun, 2018

On 17 May the inaugural British Ex-Forces in Business Awards ceremony took place at London’s iconic De Vere Grand Connaught Rooms, bringing together 500 leaders and stakeholders for the UK’s largest ever celebration of military Veterans in business. As one of the programme’s proud sponsors, QUEST is delighted to bring you this report on the events of the night and – most importantly – the very special Service leavers recognised for their outstanding achievements.

The British Ex-Forces in Business Awards is a new – and most welcome –programme, created to celebrate the achievements of ex-military personnel in the UK workforce, as well as those employers that support current and former members of the British Armed Forces. The aim is to uncover the accomplishments of ex-Forces personnel who are now excelling in business and present them as important role models for Service leavers, showcasing the military-gained skills that have enabled their business successes.

Who was there?

The awards ceremony gathered 500 business and military leaders at the De Vere Grand Connaught Rooms, raising awareness of resettlement issues, encouraging new ex-Forces employment schemes and promoting the value that military-gained skills can provide to the UK economy if better utilised across the workforce.

Said Gavin Jackson, UK managing director at headline sponsor Amazon Web Services (AWS), ‘Weare thrilled to see so many talented military Veterans recognised for their outstanding achievements in business. We find that many of the qualities that are foundational to military service are invaluable for our own organisation. Hiring transitioning military Veterans and military spouses is a fantastic opportunity for any company to grow its talent pool, and we are proud to support the British Ex-Forces in Business Awards, which extol the virtues of these men and women.’

Giving Service leavers a helping hand during their resettlement period will pay off massively for employers in the long run, not to mention the UK economy as a whole

SAS Veteran and author, Andy McNab

As well as AWS, whose AWS re:Start programme equips Service leavers with the latest software development and cloud computing technologies to enable them to perform tech-related roles, other sponsors of the awards included FDM Group, Kuehne + Nagel, PwC, Santander, ForceSelect, Transport for London and, of course, Quest. Soldier On! was selected as charity partner.

The 17 May ceremony not only gathered business leaders and Veterans to honour the winners, but also broughttogether top companies, key military personnel, politicians, journalists and other stakeholders to raise awareness of resettlement issues, encourage further dialogue around the importance of ex-Forces employment initiatives, and promote the significant value that military-gained skills can provide to the British economy if better utilised in the UK workforce.

Opening this glittering night of recognition for this first trailblazing group of high achievers, host of the awards, broadcaster Julia-Hartley Brewer, welcomed keynote addresses from Robbie Carroll, UK National Security & Public Safety at AWS, SAS Veteran and bestselling authorAndy McNab (see box), as well as entertainment from the Military Wives Choir. Those presenting awards on the evening included General Sir Mike Jackson, who headed the British Army as it entered the Iraq War in 2003, Julian Lewis, MP and Chair of the Defence Select Committee, and Lt General Mark Poffley, Deputy Chief of the Defence Staff.

The aim of the Awards

During their time in uniform, Service men and women spend years adapting to roles and gaining valuable skills. They develop qualities that are readily transferable and in demand in the business world, but transitioning back to civilian life and finding a place in the wider UK workforce can be a difficult proposition for many of the 16,000-plus military leavers each year. Despite so many people having gone through a similar transition, Service leavers can often feel alone with a lack of visible role models.

Hiring transitioning military Veterans and military spouses is a fantastic opportunity for any company to grow its talent pool

Gavin Jackson, Amazon Web Services

It was this thought that was the impetus for the creation of this new awards programme, which is dedicated to providing a much-needed platform for uncovering and promoting the achievements of ex-military personnel who are now excelling in the business world – presenting them as important role models for other Service leavers who may be struggling with their transition to civilian life, as well as current Forces personnel anxious about their own road ahead when the time comes for them to leave.

Just as intended, the event highlighted admirably the adaptable skills gained in the military, and recognised the organisations that exist to help Service leavers find their new place in society through employment, training and other support.

The 2018 winners

Fifteen winners were announced at the awards ceremony, whittled down from more than 250 nominations. Questextends its congratulationsto all winners and finalists, who are without exception, fantastic business role models to Service leavers.

The very worth winners included Woman of the Year victor Jane Wainwright, the only woman to have a child with a terminal illness while continuing to serve, and now director of security and data protection at PwC. Also recognised was RAF Veteran Air Vice-Marshal Jon Lamonte, now CEO of Transport for Greater Manchester, who received the Lifetime Achievement award.

Here’s a full list of winners:

  • Advocate of the Year: John Chantry, Barclays 
  • Business Leader of the Year: David Wilkins, Goldman Sachs 
  • Employer of the Year: Jaguar Land Rover 
  • Entrepreneur of the Year: Tony Knights, Knights Group Worldwide
  • Innovator of the Year: Richard Gill, Drone Defence 
  • Inspiration of the Year: Ally Musthan, Artisan People
  • Lifetime Achievement: Jon Lamonte, Transport for Greater Manchester
  • New Service Leaver of the Year: Daniel Frost, Marks & Spencer 
  • Outstanding Achiever of the Year:Edward Osborne, Virtualstock
  • Rising Star of the Year: Damon Tyler, NHS Calderdale CCG
  • Role Model of the Year: Rowena Fell, EY
  • Service Leaver of the Year: Lee Whitworth, A&E Harmonious Compliance Training 
  • Team Leader of the Year: Colin Sellars, Cornwall Council 
  • Woman of the Year: Jane Wainwright, PwC 
  • Young Leader of the Year: Linsey Vance, Datapipe 

Says Ben Rossi, journalist and founder of the British Ex-Forces in Business Awards, ‘Service men and women develop qualities that are easily transferable to roles in business, yet many employers fail to recognise this or are deterred by common misconceptions. We all have a responsibility to support Veterans where we can, but it’s also important from a purely business perspective that their skills are better utilised. We were overwhelmed by the talent on display in the nominations received for the Awards and it was an absolute honour bringing together this special group of people to promote the huge value military Veterans provide to businesses in the UK.’


Andy McNab

SAS Veteran Andy McNab calls on companies in the UK to recognise the transferable skills of military Service leavers, and provide them with more employment and training support

In a rare public appearance, former SAS soldier and bestselling author Andy McNab called on employers across the UK to provide more support to Service men and women when they leave the military, saying it is ‘vital’ employers understand the value military-gained skills can provide to them.

‘It’s time that employers across the UK, large and small, truly recognise the transferable skills that Service men and women gain during their time in the military. More than just doing the right thing for Veterans who have served their country in the Armed Forces, this is about utilising a unique set of finely honed qualities to help plug the numerous skills gaps that are holding back our economy on the global stage.

‘Transitioning back to civilian life after leaving the military can be extremely difficult. But Service leavers don’t want sympathy – they just want a chance. Giving them that break and lending them a helping hand when they need it during their resettlement period will pay off massively for employers in the long run, not to mention the UK economy as a whole.’

To find out more about the Awards, visit Nominations for the 2019 Awards will open in October 2018. Visit to sign up for updates.

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