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We spoke to Matthew, who prior to joining us at Admiral, was in the Army for over eighteen years, serving in the 3rd Battalion of the Parachute Regiment. As you may know, Admiral signed the Armed Forces Covenant in 2019. We are committed to supporting reservists, ex-armed forces personnel and their families, both inside and outside of the workplace. Before coming to work at Admiral, Matthew was in the Army for over eighteen years. We caught up with him to hear more about his transition out of the Army and into Admiral… Could you tell us a bit more about your experiences in the army? I joined the Army at 15, right after I took my GCSEs. I thought I was the hardest kid in the world when I joined, but I found out I wasn’t! Honestly, I was a bit of a tear-away, and joining the Army did me a world of good. I had a really varied experience. I started out in the Coldstream Guards – wearing a red jacket and a furry hat outside Buckingham Palace, living in Westminster and then Chelsea barracks. One year, instead of taking part in the Trooping of the Colour, I decided to try out for P-Company. I was successful, got my wings, and joined 3 Para (3rd Battalion, Parachute Company). I saw a lot of conflict – Northern Ireland, the First Gulf War, Bosnia and Serbia, the Second Gulf War, Afghanistan. I had some good days, and some bad days; in the army your bad days are really bad. How did you find the transition out of the army? Transitioning was hard, but eventually I made the choice to leave and be with my family. Right before lockdown, I was a guest speaker at my children’s school, and one of the children asked me what the hardest thing about being in the Army was. I told them that physically it was P-Company selection, but that mentally the hardest thing was leaving. When I drove out of the camp for the last time, and realised it was all over, I pulled my car to the side of the road and cried my eyes out. I didn’t want to leave. The Army is more than a job, it becomes a massive part of your life. I was so young when I joined that there were things I had never had to do for myself before, like going to the doctors and getting a bus. Civvy street can be really overwhelming. After eighteen years, I was very institutionalized, and to an extent I probably will be for the rest of my life. The Army is a completely different world, and the transition out takes a lot of adjustment. Whilst I was in the Army, there were times where I thought I would prefer an office job, mainly to have a rest from running up and down mountains with my kit on. In reality, the transition to an office job was mind-numbing, and I wished I was back on those mountains. It took time, but I adjusted. That’s what they teach you in the Army - improvise, adapt and overcome, and that’s what I did. How did you come to work at Admiral? It took me a while to end up at Admiral. Straight after I left the Army, I worked in Close Protection and Counter Terrorism, which is a natural step for a lot of ex-servicemen. After a while, life events took over and I had to step away. I ended up in Technical Support for a while, and if I’m really honest, it wasn’t the job for me. I didn’t mind the job so much, but the place I worked was difficult. I’m based Swansea way, so I ran into lots of people who worked at Admiral, and I heard nothing but good things. When I first joined, I was shocked at how different it was to my old company. On my first day of training, when we were talking about car parking arrangements, I asked my manager a question about bringing a motorcycle to work. She told me that she didn’t know the answer, but that she’d find out. Within ten minutes, she got back to me with the information I needed. I remember being shocked. At the last place I’d worked I would ask a relevant question and most of the time, I’d never hear back. The level of communication at Admiral is similar to the Army, and it was really refreshing. How have you found working at Admiral? Honestly, it is rare to work for a company that supports you like Admiral does. I know that because Admiral isn’t the first company I have worked for since leaving the Army. I struggle with PTSD, but my Team Managers have always got behind me and supported me, even when I’m having a bad day. It’s quite easy for me to slip into the squaddie mentality of ‘I’m fine’, but I’ve worked a lot with People Services (HR) and they have given me the support that I need. It’s the first time since I’ve got out of the Army that I know I’m working for a company that supports me as much as they can and understands my situation. Civvy street can be really hard, and that’s why it is so important to know that you’re in a place where you will be looked after no matter what. That is what Admiral is for me. What are you up to at the moment? I currently work as a Customer Loyalty Representative. My role includes development, so I get to do some coaching within my team and the department which I really enjoy. I also spend time monitoring other peoples’ roles and improving our customer service. There is a lot of opportunity for progression at Admiral, and I am excited to be moving onwards and upwards, building another career for myself. What transferable skills do you feel the Army has given you? I think the biggest one is communication. In the Army, you’re constantly interacting with people you don’t know, so you really develop the skill of confident communication, which has definitely come in handy in my current role. Flexibility is another one. In the Army, there is a saying that you have Plan A and Plan B, but it’ll be Plan C that comes into play. And it’s true – there have been times when I have planned and trained for months, only for something to not happen. Similarly, having a sense of humour, because it keeps you grounded and helps you face any situation. In my current role, if things don’t go exactly to plan it doesn’t phase me, because I can keep things in perspective, find a solution, and move on. I suppose you could say it has made me more resilient. What do you enjoy most about working at Admiral? No one shouts around here and compared to other places I’ve worked that’s a real plus! Apart from that, there’s real variety in the people you speak to on the phones and I really enjoy interacting with customers. I’ve always believed that it’s worthwhile coming to work if you can help someone out, and make their life just a little bit easier, and in my current role I get to do that. One of the customers I spoke to the other day told me that I had made her day, and it’s the rewarding moments like that which make it enjoyable. That’s why I love my role and being a part of Admiral.
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Building on the success of our long-standing partnership with the WCCF’s Graduate Programmes, we’re playing a key role in the inception of the new Fast-Track Data and AI scheme. As a proud Welsh employer, we’re thrilled to play our part in helping make our South Wales home a fertile tech landscape. The eight-month post-graduate programme has been conceived to develop Data Science and AI Professionals locally. Those on the programme benefit from: An initial eight-month placement in one of our analyst areasAn induction and the benefit of non-technical training provided by our in-house training function, Admiral AcademyA business mentor and graduate buddy (someone who’s enjoyed success on one of our in-house programmes)A 4-week bootcamp and applied post-graduate Diploma qualification from the University of South Wales Rowena Morgan, Programme Manager at WCCF, explains Admiral’s role in the AI graduate scheme: “We are proud to work in partnership with Admiral to create and retain graduate talent in Data and AI skills in Wales. The model is an excellent example of a collaborative industry and academic initiative that is unique to Wales and the UK, supported by the European Social Fund. The calibre of the graduates recruited for the Programme has been excellent and we look forward to continue working closely with Admiral and wider consortium employers, to build new talent pools in Data and AI to support our employer’s current and future tech skill requirements.” Our three talented graduates have been placed in growing areas of our business; Risk, Claims and Van MI (management information). Meet Lauraine, Alex and Stuart, our new starters. What projects will you be working on? Lauraine: My role is an Intern Data Scientist within the Risk team. In terms of projects that I am working on, Admiral has been great at giving me a lot of responsibility- which is great but a little daunting at times. My manager, the Graduate Team and other colleagues are so supportive of me though, if I ever get stuck, they always have an answer or point me in the direction of someone who will know the answer! At University, we are learning three different coding languages (R, Python and SAS) and it’s amazing to have the opportunity to apply that knowledge to my role. I think Alex and I are working on similar projects, in terms of moving data into the Cloud- which is great because we can always help each other! I’m also leading a project to create a dashboard that Admiral will use long-term to analyse the different variables in risk. What has been the best thing about working for Admiral so far? Alex: I am absolutely loving it! We only started full-time a couple weeks ago but I think what immediately stood out for me is how calm and relaxed everything at Admiral is. I mean, it is not often you see people wearing hoodies to work! The relaxed atmosphere really put the other graduates and I at ease on our first day. It is exciting to be with such a well-known brand and also work on an exciting project that will put my R skills to the test to help with monthly reporting and with the larger scheme of moving over to the new cloud-based services. It is great to have been alongside other graduates, from other schemes, during the induction too. It is great to be in the same boat as a group of other people and we have been able to integrate with them well throughout the induction. It just means that there are other people we have been able to network and build long-term connections with.Our trainer at Admiral Academy, Ashley, is so energetic and infectious with his energy that you just engage so quickly with his sessions and learn a lot about the business and self-development. Over the last few days, we have been learning about presentation skills which will be so helpful in our placements and further into the future. The induction, trainers and Graduate Team have been so flexible in ensuring that we have freedom to do our university work as well. From the kindness and supportiveness that I have seen across Admiral, I’m sure this flexibility will continue in my placement.What are you most looking forward to in your placement?Stuart: I’m really looking forward to doing something meaningful and implementing something to benefit Admiral long-term. My team has been great at giving me lots of training and the responsibility to have a lot of control over my project’s direction. When speaking with my manager, there has been lots of ideas thrown around about what project to lead and it looks like I’ll be helping Ancillaries with understanding customer patterns in this area, so I’m really looking forward to getting my teeth into it! Like the others have said, I feel well supported at Admiral and my team are happy to give me pointers if I have a question about anything!
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