The first NatWest Military Education Conference on 29th October 2018 aimed to support the Armed Forces community in both employment and self-employment and explore the ways in which enterprise education plays a role in both paths.
Delegates from the serving and ex-serving community, plus representatives from supportive partner organisations, gathered at the RBS Bishopsgate premises in London to explore how best to translate military skills into their next career move or business venture in civilian life.
The conference was hosted by XFE CEO, Ren Kapur MBE, and opened by a keynote speech by Haydn Thomas Head of Business Development Business Banking at NatWest. Further keynote speeches were delivered by Major General R B Bruce CBE DSO, Ren Kapur MBE and former RAF pilot Ed Molyneux, CEO and co-founder of FreeAgent.
Ex-military entrepreneurs shared their experiences and Julie Baker, Head of Enterprise for NatWest, chaired a panel debate.
Major General R B Bruce CBE DSO, who has completed a secondment to the Royal Bank of Scotland to support the cross fertilisation of industry and military knowledge and understanding, addressed the conference:
“My biggest takeaway is that what the Army does stacks up pretty well in civvy street. My take out from my time at RBS overall is that the scale and complexities of challenges and opportunities are not dissimilar. I did not feel like a fish out of water”
“My advice to service leavers: you must be more prepared to be a bit uncomfortable and ‘unpack the detail’ of what you did. How did you deal with physical risk – something that is not often encountered in civvy street”
“Military people can see the ‘Big Team’ issue and balance this better with the smaller individual/team targets. They are good at seeing both the wood AND the trees. In civilian work I sometimes see less of this and the danger is that initiative can be stifled as a result because people are concerned about being embarrassed regarding achieving their short term targets”
Suzanne Brock, Managing Director of Nutriment, shared her experiences in business after leaving the Army:
“You don’t need to have the traditional pedigree to be successful. At 42, I set up a business. At 48, I sold it for a lot of money. At 53 I might do it again. The Army gives you confidence to do these things.
“What the Army taught me more than anything is you can walk into any situation – you are taught how to lead people and get them to follow you…to trust that you will do what you say you will do”
Sue Mark, who spent 21 years in the Royal Navy, shared her experience of taking on the franchise Bright and Beautiful:
“On resettlement, I made it my job to get a job! An interim job gave me the luxury of ‘a pause of two marching paces’ before doing my own thing, in my case franchising.”
Ren Kapur, XFE founder and CEO, said:
“What a great day for looking into the past, the now and what the future can hold. Our principle for this conference was to share the synergistic view of enterprise for both employment and self-employment however I believe we have achieved something much greater.
“Working together and debating the ‘art of the possible’ for what is needed and what could be needed for the future to grow and prosper as a nation is vital. We are of course only able to effect such great change if we communicate and then act.
“Today marks great progress. XFE and NatWest will be working together to define a strategy to build on this event; making it the first of many.”