Transition Story: Making your Network Work For You

Dougie Lord served 27 years in the British Army and retired as a Lieutenant Colonel. After training at RMA Sandhurst, he joined the Royal Artillery as a non-graduate and was mainly based in Germany with numerous operational tours including Gulf War I, Bosnia, Northern Ireland and Afghanistan and exchange tours to both Australia and Canada.

He finished his career after staff roles in London and finally Abbey Wood and left 3 years after being promoted to Lieutenant Colonel at the age of 45. His decision to leave was driven by a desire to be able to offer a decent length of service in a civilian role combined with a redundancy opportunity that was available within the military at that time.

Dougie spoke to us about his transition journey and how networking played a key role in that process.

“Having spent time in the procurement field during my time in the Army, it was fairly obvious to me that I was going to go into some form of programme management, business development or operations management. Having dealt with the defence industry and civil service in the past, I was quite well-informed about what was available out there. The biggest challenge for me was to decide whether I moved away from defence altogether into a completely different sector or take a smaller step by staying in the defence sector to learn about business before potentially moving further afield.”

I always looked to connect with people that worked in businesses I was interested in, that were geographically located to be able to help me and also at the right level in a company’s hierarchy so that, if they recommended me internally in their firm, it would get me through the front door for an interview. Getting an interview is the hardest part, once you’re in front of someone it’s just down to you.

“During my job search, my success rate was 3 job offers for the 10 interviews that I attended. I approached a variety of companies, from Royal Mail, Bristol Water and General Electric (GE) to more specialist defence firms such as MBDA Systems and QinetiQ.”

“The key element that helped me to obtain those interviews was using the network that I gained throughout my time in the military. I always looked to connect with people that worked in businesses I was interested in, that were geographically located to be able to help me and also at the right level in a company’s hierarchy so that, if they recommended me internally in their firm, it would get me through the front door for an interview. Getting an interview is the hardest part, once you’re in front of someone it’s just down to you. I also combined my networking with a few direct applications to companies that I found either on the Officer’s Association website or one of the many other job sites I was monitoring online at the time.”

“The best positive of networking is that all of a sudden, with no effort on your part, someone will come and head hunt you. My current role came about as a result of two contacts that I had, one who was already in the role I eventually ended up fulfilling and one who I knew through networking. Together they convinced me to go for the opportunity. It was almost like networking in reverse in the sense that the network I had set up for myself approached me with a vacancy they wanted to fill.”

Dougie has recently left his role as Head of Business Development for Europe with QinetiQ. Hoping to spend some time living and working overseas, he has just secured a role as a Military Contractor to the Kuwaiti MOD.

If you live or would like to work in the Bristol area, you can find more details about The Alma Networking Group 


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