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Home > Resources > Why I asked my firm sign the Armed Forces Covenant and why my ‘side of desk’ job is a pursuit of passion

Why I asked my firm sign the Armed Forces Covenant and why my ‘side of desk’ job is a pursuit of passion

Before joining the universe of assets and securities, multiple computer screens, fast-paced teamwork, and fabulous shoes that is the financial industry, I was in the British Army. I served for over 7 years as a military linguist, I went to Iraq (twice) as well as other places around the globe, and I made it to the rank of Captain.

But then came the day that I decided to have a go in the ‘real world’. What pushed me to leave the Army bubble were a variety of factors. I didn’t know what was next for my Army career when the role I had my sights on was given to someone else, didn’t feel that I was achieving everything that I could, and frankly, I was getting tired of the uniform (it’s hardly the most flattering of outfits!).

So, I uploaded my CV onto various websites and got a call a few weeks later from a retired Infantry Major who wanted to know whether I would be interested in a role in the ‘City’. My first question was ‘Which City?”  I never wanted an office job, my poor Maths A-level tutor will attest that Excel, figures and stats are far from a strength of mine and I couldn’t see myself as a corporate citizen – I was adventurous,  I needed freedom from the strict Army regime PLUS I didn’t know anything about banking, asset servicing or asset management and the plethora of opportunities that this ‘City’ would offer me.

Three firms, numerous roles, some fantastic managers, a husband, two kids and 7 years later, I settled into my second career and found a place to call home at Northern Trust. This firm has not just allowed me but actively encouraged and supported me becoming an advocate for veterans seeking roles in the financial industry (with two ‘Chairman’s Awards’ no less!).

As co-chair of the Northern Trust EMEA Military network – (my side of desk job) my team and I set about educating and garnering the support of the executive management team to enter Northern Trust into the MOD Employer Recognition Award scheme – the first phase of which is signing the Covenant. Northern Trust signed the Covenant in 2017 and were recognized with a Bronze award. We progressed to Silver in 2019 and this year, we’ve submitted our application for the Gold Award.

The Armed Forces Covenant means that organisations demonstrate and publically promise “those who serve in the Armed Forces, whether Regular or Reserve, those who have served in the past, and their families, will face no disadvantage compared to other citizens in the provision of public and commercial services”. It’s a win-win situation for both employers and their ex-military employees.

My ‘side of desk job’ has been to demonstrate the benefits that ex-service personnel can bring to financial organisations – excellent leadership, exemplary teamwork, calm-under-pressure and a real can-do attitude. We know from first-hand experience that harnessing the strengths and transferable skills of these individuals adds real value to our business and ensures that Northern Trust continues to foster a globally diverse and inclusive workforce which, in turn, supports our partners and our clients.

I am proud to have served in the British Armed Forces. I am proud of my father, who served long before I did and I am overwhelmingly proud of my little brother, currently a Sgt Maj in the Royal Engineers (mostly, I am proud of my mum for putting up with all of us!) The vast majority of military veterans feel the same way that I do, and we never forget our time in service.

Now a civilian, I still rely upon many of the skills and lessons I learned during my time in uniform, and, with the support of Northern Trust and firms like ours who have signed the Armed Forces Covenant, veterans like myself can continue to be the ‘foot in the door’ for any ex-military personnel looking for a role in the financial industry.

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