24 June 2021
In line with this years’ Armed Forces Day on 26th June, as a company we are celebrating our recent signing of the Armed Forces Covenant.
We spoke to our very own ex-forces veteran and Projects Director, Paul Bevan, on his experiences whilst serving in the RAF and what the Armed Forces Covenant (AFC) means to him.
What attracted you to the Royal Air Force, Paul?
I have always been big on adventure and on the lookout for my next challenge. I love to travel and the opportunities that the RAF offered were extremely attractive to a fresh faced 17-year-old.
I suppose I know myself well enough now to know that I also like to organise things into neat little rows – I was probably the only cadet in Officer Training that thought putting socks in a square box labelled “socks” felt right somehow!
What were the high and low points of your service career?
I spent the night of my second wedding anniversary making “that call” to my wife, Joanne, as I was about to go over the border from Kuwait to Iraq on the first night of Gulf War II. This was potentially saying our last goodbyes and probably the most difficult conversation I have ever had to have with Joanne (her opinion may now differ on that!).
There are too many high points to list here; it was an amazing 24 years. I think if I had to pick a single one, it would be my tour of Kosovo. The country had been stripped bare by the retreating Serbian Forces and the remaining ethnic Albanian population were in abject fear of anybody carrying a rifle. It was a real hearts and minds operation where we both protected and integrated with the ethnic Albanian community – it was my first real sense that my presence made a significant difference.
What attracted Ward Robinson to the Armed Forces Covenant?
I have known about the AFC for several years as back in 2011 I organised RAF High Wycombe’s efforts to become the first RAF Base to sign it. Ex-forces veterans don’t have a typical CV – they are all about articulating transferrable skills to prospective employers. Ward Robinson recognised this in my appointment.
My wife, Joanne, is still serving and I have always received incredible support whenever she has had to work away from home. In essence, Ward Robinson were already signed up to the AFC without being aware of it. The signing of the AFC formalises that commitment to ensure that as a company, we continue to support the Armed Forces Community.
It has also served as a timely reminder for me to help out where I can – I’m currently engaging with a local construction company in an effort to create employment opportunities where possible for veterans in the North East.
How does Armed Forces life relate to Project Management?
It’s so similar in so many ways. As a Project Manager you have to be a great leader of disparate teams, requiring agility when dealing with an ambiguous picture. You need gravitas and humility in equal measure when consulting with experts in deeply technical fields.
Organisation and attention to detail are key factors in a successful project as they are in military life – all these things come naturally to those with an Armed Forces career behind them.
Then there is the humour in the face of adversity; project management can be quite a stressful arena to operate in. The ability to put a smile on your face, roll your sleeves up and get on with it is something the British Armed Forces pride themselves on.
Learn more about the Armed Forces Covenant here.