We caught up with Gareth, one of our colleagues with a 20-year Armed Forces service record, who joined our Graduate Programme before becoming a Process and Product Executive in a brand-new team.
Tell us about your time in the military?I joined back in 1996. Initially, I joined the Regiment of Wales, which amalgamated into the Royal Welsh. I did a lot with them, including a tour of Iraq. Shortly after that, I transferred to the Welsh Guards. After my time in Iraq, I was ready for a change, but I didn’t want to leave the Army. I was shot in Iraq, and I needed something fresh to get me back into things. I went back to the Middle East and did two tours of Afghanistan. Over time, I had several injuries, which built up and eventually led me to be medically discharged in 2016.
I had done just over 20 years of service, but I wasn’t ready to leave the Army. I had never imagined that, and it wasn’t part of my plan. Originally, I wanted to work on mobile mast structures, and I had done a lot of comms work in the Army, eventually running comms for the Battalion, so I was experienced for the role. However, the injuries to my back meant that I couldn’t get the insurance for the training. It was hard to have two disappointments in a row, and to be pulled so far from the direction I’d wanted my life to go.
How did you find the transition out of the military?After my medical discharge, I tried a couple of different jobs. I was in and out of hospital a fair bit at the time, having different operations and treatments. I became an HGV driver, as I’d got my license in the Army, but it wasn’t sustainable. I would do the driving for two days, and then be bedbound for the next three. I knew I needed a change.
I had been out of formal education for a long time, and so it wasn’t something that immediately came to mind. That said, I decided I was ready to retrain. I reached out to Cardiff Metropolitan University, and I have to say they were amazing. I spoke to them on the Friday, and they accepted me on the spot – I started the course 48 hours later on Monday. They helped me sort out all the paperwork and got me on the right track with the lectures, as I was a bit behind. I decided to study Accounting, as I’d always enjoyed working with numbers, and I was able to do a foundation year to help get me back into things. Four years later, and I’d managed to graduate with a first.
How did you come to join Admiral?I saw an advert online, and I immediately got excited. I already had an awareness of Admiral as I had friends who worked here, all of whom had given it positive feedback. Admiral were recruiting for their General Graduate Programme, and I fitted the bill – the only problem was that the applications closed the next morning. I spent a few hours on my application in the evening, but I felt nervous submitting it as I had been forced to rush, and I didn’t feel it was my best effort. That said, I managed to pull it off and I got an interview.
Both my interviewers were called Mark, and I remember being reassured that I wouldn’t get their names wrong – it was my first formal interview in 20 years, so the pressure was on! I was offered a position, but because of my experience, my role is slightly different to a stereotypical grad. I had a flexible start date and haven’t been rotating round the company as grads often do. Instead, I did the Talent Agility Programme Training, which focuses on making the most of Admiral’s internal talent, and it gave me a great introduction to the company.
What was it like to join Admiral?Working at Admiral has been great. Joining in a pandemic was different, but I’ve still really enjoyed it – everyone is so welcoming and helpful. I was lucky in that by the time I joined, the restrictions had lifted enough that I was able to meet my team in my first week, and I think that made a big difference. I’ve been to the office now, for a big team strategy day, so even though it’s still mostly a remote role, I feel connected with what I’m doing.
Tell us more about your current role?After my training, I went straight into Motor Product, and I’ve been there ever since. I work in Premium Finance and Fees as a Process and Product Executive. Initially, I wasn’t sure what it would entail, as it was a brand-new team, and it was a process of figuring out where people fit. That said, I’m really enjoying it. Premium Finance and Fees covers everything – Household, Motor, Multicover, so there is a lot of variety, which I enjoy. My accounting degree certainly comes in useful!
How have you found working at Admiral?A lot of people in Admiral say that they didn’t think they would come to work in insurance. When you’ve been in the military, that is true in an entirely different way. I never thought I’d work an office job, let alone insurance. I was lucky to go to university first, and adjust bit by bit, but it’s no overstatement to say that it’s worlds apart.
Even though it’s an adjustment, I’m happy that I am where I am. There’s a lot of scope in my role, and I get to cover a lot of different parts of the business, which I enjoy. It keeps me engaged and gives me a variety of different options for when I am ready to progress. Being in an office job is still a difficult thing to do, but I feel lucky that I had a four-year gap, as I had a chance to get used to it in my head – it was a good steppingstone. Now that I’m here, I feel like Admiral has given me an opportunity to reinvent myself, and I’m proud of where I’ve got to.
What advice would you give others considering a transition to civilian life?Take all the training opportunities that you have available to you. Use your enhanced learning credits, even after you get out – you never know what you might need them for.
Look at what the company is offering, and make sure you are happy with them. Don’t just join because there is space – find somewhere you want to work. I’m massively fortunate that I picked Admiral and they picked me. This was the first job I applied for, and the one I really wanted. Working here has proved to me that my hunch was right.