Former British Army Officer Faith Zeal tells the OA of her personal transition story and how she decided on her new career.
“Why did you join the Army?” is the most frequently asked question throughout my professional career to date. I hope not due to any perceived inadequacies, but rather interest in the motivations of a 22-year-old, female, geography graduate with no military ties, becoming an Officer in the Royal Artillery. On reflection, alongside many of the more astute yet clichéd answers, would have been the desire to avoid suiting up in ‘The City’. And yet 5 years to the day from my Sandhurst Commissioning, I sit here writing this article as an employee of a leading global financial services firm, JP Morgan Chase & Co. So now the question is “why finance?”
As I began the process of transition out of the Army in 2018 I considered a huge array of roles that I believed my personal and professional skills would be suited to, and – most importantly – that I believed I would enjoy. Many of these ideas are probably too embarrassing to admit now, however the process of elimination was possible because of the wealth of resources available to all service leavers. The Officers’ Association was the most prominent of these and the first point of call for me on D-364. The website provides a wealth of resources; from employment webinars, access to events such as LinkedIn workshops, corporate insight days and networking groups. The corporate world was something I had never really been exposed to and my understanding of the opportunities and roles available to me was limited. Using the events page on the OA website I registered for all the insight events that I could possibly justify and started a voyage of discovery into the corporate world.
After close to 15 insight events, 50+ networking coffees and 8 months I had finally nailed down what I thought I wanted to do. Well, at least in regards to the industry sector and sub-sector, which was certainly more of a challenge than I initially assumed. In November 2018 I began the process of interviews and selection for four different military transition programmes in finance; hoping to be offered a role in asset or wealth management (investment management for corporates or private individuals). All of the programmes offered successful candidates paid internships starting in January/February 2019. A few weeks later, and thankfully before Christmas, I accepted a role on an institutional sales team at J.P. Morgan Asset Management.
I am now coming to the end of the 6 month transition programme and have now secured a permanent role on a new team. In this very short amount of time the learning curve has been almost vertical, but I have absolutely relished the opportunities it has presented. On leaving the Army I was yearning for the opportunity to be intellectually challenged and work alongside high achieving individuals, I’ve had the chance to do both. Not only has the role provided me with the chance to refine what I want to do and build a network within the firm; but it has also given the opportunity to learn a great deal about the industry in a way that has suited me better than academic studies.
For anyone beginning their transition, I cannot recommend the events and resources available enough. There are a wealth of opportunities to be harnessed whatever your motivations and desires are for leaving the military.