Vix Anderton, a former RAF Intelligence Officer, shares her transition story.
Vix joined the RAF in 2005, having been in the Officer Training Corps at Manchester University, where she studied Economics and Politics. She graduated as an Intelligence Officer in 2007, and fulfilled a variety of roles during her 10 year career.
Vix started to consider the possibility of a different career while studying a Service-sponsored Master’s Degree in War Studies at King’s College London. Vix’s dissertation was on Female Engagement Teams in Afghanistan and the military’s role in the Women, Peace and Security agenda, which helped her to realise she had a passion for women’s rights and gender issues. At the same time, she worked with the Royal United Services Institute (RUSI), the world’s oldest independent think tank on international defence and security, to establish the Under 35s Forum. This involved organising many events and meeting people working in different industries, which gave her insight into the other options out there.
After completing her studies, Vix began to consider her career ambitions. She contacted the OA in 2010 after it was recommended by her father, who is also a former officer. Fiona Jackson, an OA Career Consultant, discussed with Vix her career options in a face-to-face meeting. Later, Fiona referred Vix to a specialist in interview techniques, who helped her to effectively demonstrate her skillset to potential employers. Vix has kept in contact with Fiona ever since.
Vix said: “The OA really helped me to understand my career options. I felt more confident in my decisions, knowing I could ask for advice.”
After leaving the RAF in 2014, Vix completed a two-month internship in the BBC High Risk Team, and then returned to RUSI as a Research Fellow. Although Vix enjoyed this work, she realised she no longer wanted to work in defence and security. International development appealed, but it was initially challenging to find the right opportunities.
She left RUSI and applied for both a military internship at Goldman Sachs, and the International Citizenship Scheme (ICS) with the Voluntary Service Overseas (VSO), which provides overseas volunteer placements. She was offered both opportunities, but was unsure which was best for her so asked Fiona for advice. Vix chose the ICS because it was so relevant to her interests – the project focused on women’s economic empowerment – and felt like a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.
She then spent six months in Bangladesh where her leadership experience developed in the RAF proved invaluable. The opportunity also allowed her to develop civilian skills quickly in a short space of time and it improved her confidence, as well as her Bengali!
After the programme finished, Vix worked in a couple of freelance roles, before becoming Head of Programmes for Social Development Direct (SDDirect) in London. SDDirect is a leading provider of high-quality, innovative and expert social development assistance and research services. Vix was responsible for its global portfolio of projects and provided operational support, including risk and security management. Vix enjoyed the role but, after nearly two years, decided that she wanted more variety and autonomy in her career.
Vix said: “My role at SDDirect was a great job, and I spent a lot of time supporting our project managers and the technical delivery of projects. I used my previous experiences and learnt a lot about this industry. However, it also taught me the difference between a job I can do well and one I want to do well.”
She left her role in April 2017, embarking on a portfolio career, working in a number of capacities on gender equality and women’s rights, as well as becoming a life coach and a yoga teacher. Life took another turn in October 2017 when she joined a start-up incubator programme and is now launching a start-up to transform the mental health of women and girls.
Vix said: “When I left the RAF, I never imagined I would work in gender equality and mental health, or become an entrepreneur. It’s been a real adventure since leaving the RAF; it’s not always been smooth or easy, but I have loved every minute of it.”