Tim, one of our colleagues, balances his role in our Telematics Data Team with his role as an Officer in the Army Reserves. He recently completed his training at Sandhurst, and we caught up with him to hear about it.
Tell us a bit of your back story?
I grew up in Gloucestershire and came to Cardiff to attend university, studying physics. I had a great experience in Wales and wanted to stay. I joined Admiral straight after university and ended up working in the Telematics Data Team, looking after some of the black box work we do. It’s gone fast – January marked my sixth year here.
What made you want to join the Reserves?
I decided I wanted to join three years ago, but it took me a year to find the right fit, and I attested two years ago. The Navy Reserves came to Admiral on a recruitment drive, and I decided to sign up. I went to see HMS Cambria, which is the South Wales Detachment of the Royal Navy Reserves. It was an amazing experience, but it made me realise that I preferred running, jumping, and climbing trees, and the emphasis is not on that in the Navy Reserves. I decided to join the Army Reserves instead, and I ended up in 53 Signal Squadron. It was perfect – exactly what I wanted and close to Admiral and home.
Tell us about your journey to Sandhurst from joining up?
I always intended to go down the Officer route – I think the theory of leadership is interesting, and I’ve pursued it at work too through doing Institute of Leadership and Management qualifications – so there was crossover between the two. I trained as a soldier first and did my basic training. I then ended up doing the Army Officer Selection Board in Westbury, sometimes described as the hardest job interview in the world, and that might be exaggerated, but it was certainly gruelling. It’s a multi-day event where they test your physical and mental strength, how you react under stress, your personality type; it’s all to see whether you’re good enough to be an Officer. It turned out that I was, and I was invited to continue my training at Sandhurst.
What did you enjoy most at Sandhurst?
The camaraderie and friendship are incredible. It’s a group of like-minded people all working together towards the same goal. Being out in a field in the cold and wet with something to do breaks down barriers and makes strong friendships. I loved it.
What was the hardest part?
It’s very intense – Officer training is 44 weeks for the regulars and so you can imagine that the 4-week version is very condensed. It was physically and mentally exhausting. There’s a lot of pressure, and you feel it constantly, particularly when you step out of normal life in the way that Reserves do. You miss the support mechanism of your friends and family. That said, I’m so proud of myself for doing it, and I’d do it again 10 times over.
How have you found balancing your work at Admiral with your time in the Reserves?
I got some paid time off, and I took a bit more unpaid leave too. The department was supportive and fully onboard with me being away. What’s great about the Reserves is that you bring skills back to the company for free. I’ve gained so much in leadership skills and confidence. I’ve tested my abilities which has given me an ‘if I can get through this, I can get through anything’ mentality. Admiral lose me for a little bit, but I come back more confident, with new skills and experience which I feel benefits the company in the long run.
What’s the best thing about being in the Reserves?
I’d say ultimately, it’s about being a part of something bigger. We go and help people – whether that’s re-building flood defences or doing Covid tests, we’re out there helping society and doing good. I love being on the front-line in that way.