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14 March 2013
Britain’s biggest mutual - Nationwide - is calling ex-military minds to arms in an employment scheme that sees talented troops swap the battalion for the building society.
The Society was joined by Rory Underwood - England’s greatest try scorer and a former RAF pilot - in calling for other high-profile companies to follow its lead by going into communities, spotting talent and helping ex-forces personnel to get back into work.
The scheme, which reinforces Nationwide’s role in society as a responsible employer and active member of the community, was established to benefit from the unique skill-sets of those who have served in the military, such as project management and the ability to work within complex organisations.
It recognises the military, and the personnel within it, have a unique dedication and commitment to their core values much like Nationwide, at the same time as ensuring the building society attracts skilled, strong, and talented candidates who will contribute to its continued success as the clear and compelling alternative to the banks. Since being piloted just a few months ago, Nationwide has received interest from more than 50 people directly through the scheme, with many more expected to have applied through more traditional channels.
Rory Underwood said: “The work Nationwide is doing to identify and attract top talent is an excellent idea and is something that you’d hope other companies would consider exploring. It can be a daunting prospect going into mainstream work after leaving the Forces, and this is one way that not only simplifies that process but can also help alleviate some of the anxieties and trepidation that often comes with change.”
The project is supported by UK charity for veterans, Officer’s Association, and the Transition Partnership - the Government’s official provider of armed forces resettlement. It is initially being rolled-out in the communities in and around Swindon - Nationwide’s headquarters – because of the dense military population of Wiltshire and neighbouring Oxfordshire.
Claire Jones, Resourcing partner within the Nationwide HR Team and a former member of the British Army, manages the programme. She said: “We don’t see this simply as giving someone a job; we recognise the skills of those with a military background. The military can give you an edge in business that otherwise could take years to develop. Project management becomes almost second nature; tough decisions can be taken under pressure, while loyalty and trust are driving forces behind getting the job done on time.”
She added: “We’re getting a high number of calls each week, but we can only place a limited number of people. If more companies looked to employ ex-servicemen and women, then not only would it go some way to addressing unemployment, but firms would benefit from the experience that these people bring with them.”
Claire regularly attends local jobs fairs and CV workshops in the southwest to spot and encourage candidates. Social networking sites are also frequented as a modern way of attracting the right candidates.
Laurie Hopkins, Head of Employment at the Officer’s Association, said: “Life can be tough when you come out of the forces and go back into civilian life. Nationwide sees the benefits of employing ex-Servicemen and women, who offer varied skills and experience as well as reliability. As we see more Armed Forces redundancies announced companies like Nationwide have a great opportunity to seize the chance to play their part.”
Richard Hendrickse, 42, had served in the Army for 20 years before being employed by Nationwide, where he now works within the Business Transformation team.
With a successful military career that saw him serve in a wide range of military units including 7th Armoured Brigade (the ‘Desert Rats') and airborne forces, he took part in operations throughout the world, including Northern Ireland, Bosnia and Iraq. Richard had most recently worked within the Capability Branch at the headquarters of the Royal Regiment of Artillery, in which he was involved in the development and fielding of new equipment. While serving in the Army, he utilised Army schemes to gain a PGCE teaching qualification and an Open University Masters in Business Administration.
Richard was first drawn to Nationwide through a social networking site in which the company advertised its interest in those with a military background. After being matched up with a potential role, he was invited to work a trial period at Nationwide’s head office in Swindon with the business risk department. He subsequently moved to the business transformation team, where he heads up the project management office function, which seeks to improve processes.
He said: “What Nationwide are doing is extremely valuable to people like myself. There are, of course, differences between Financial Services and the Army. However, they are not as great as you may think. Nationwide, like the Army, is a very value-driven organisation. For me, that reduced some of the difficulties there might have been. At the end of the day, management is all about people and leadership is a key transferable skill. Having been in the military for 20 years, you get a lot of opportunity to develop your leadership skills, which is invaluable as part of my role in helping pull different people and team together in the same direction.”
Nationwide has a strong history of support for the needs of military personnel. This includes:
Customers can manage their finances in a branch, on the telephone, internet and post. The Society has around 16,000 employees. Nationwide's head office is in Swindon with administration centres based in Northampton, Bournemouth and Dunfermline. The Society also has a number of call centres across the UK.