Here he speaks to SmallBusiness.co.uk about his new recruitment company for ex-servicemen ForceSelect.
Why did you start the company?
There’s around 20,000 to 22,000 servicemen leaving the army each year and many have no idea of what to do next, so I decided to help them get employment. For the first six months after leaving the military some people find it really difficult to manage their finances, especially the younger guys. You don’t have to worry about things like council tax or TV licences in the military, so we also advise them on how to adjust to those aspects of civilian life.
How did you get it off the ground?
I went to the Ministry of Defence to discuss the sorts of things we could provide. I then spent a lot of time speaking to different industries to explain what they could expect to get for their money by hiring ex-military employees. The major benefit is that they have a really good work ethic, are reliable and have a strong sense of loyalty. So it’s not about charity, what we have in fact is a really good product. Emotion aside, we’ve had some great responses from employers.
What have you had to learn?
I didn’t realise what a big industry the recruitment business is in the UK. I’ve also had to learn about compliance and what you can and can’t do according to employment law. It’s pretty full on.
What’s your career highlight?
There’s been two things. One has been doing my work with charity for those who have been wounded in conflicts Help for Heroes and think the other will be this. It’s really rewarding to see the process of people applying work and then getting jobs.
Would you have done anything differently?
I could be here for a long time, starting with the very first day I joined the army. I suppose the obvious thing would be not getting caught as a prisoner in Iraq, but I don’t regret that because it changed my life. Don’t get me wrong, it’s not as if I want to repeat it but it’s part and parcel of all the experiences that have shaped me.