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Armed Forces Week – From the Forces to FM

Armed Forces Week – From the Forces to FM
26 May 2021 | Updated 28 July 2021

Armed Forces Week takes place 22-26 June 2021, a time to recognise the strengths and skills of our Forces personnel.

Barry Loftus, ISS UK HSEQ Business Partner, shares his journey from the Forces to FM, highlighting the great synergy between these areas.


"The benefits to employing a veteran - in my opinion - are limitless; we have the soft skill most employers are looking for; we’re extremely adaptable, goal orientated with a strong work ethic."


The Army Days


In 2019 I was medically discharged from the Army for a spinal injury sustained in service. I joined the Parachute Regiment straight after leaving school in 1998 so this was the only job I had ever known. I spent 21 years in the Parachute regiment and was employed in numerous roles from commanding troops to being part of the British Army’s Skydiving Team - The Red Devils.

The medical discharge process enabled me to re-focus on what I wanted to do for a second career. Health and safety seemed like a logical choice as my service had moulded me into a confident, self-motivated individual who is comfortable challenging situations I feel are not right.  Equally, this type of role benefits from an individual who can work collaboratively at all levels to solutionize an idea; gone are the days of the clipboard-carrying health and safety person putting a stop to every idea. I felt that my time in service had naturally developed me into the ideal person for this role.

Before leaving the Army I studied and achieved my NEBOSH general certificate, NEBOSH Fire, IEMA Foundation, NEBOSH Diploma and also shadowed and supported the Garrison HSEQ.



Picture: a photograph of the British Army’s Skydiving Team - The Red Devils, taken from a display at The Bahrain International Airshow


What Next?


I was now qualified, experienced, though with no real route to market. This is one of the main challenges facing our service leavers today. As my exit was due to a Medical Discharge, I was supported by the military partner Career Transition Partnership Plus (CTP+) which finds work placements for service leavers.

CTP+ put me in contact with Ray Cooksley who created the Joint Forces Programme at ISS Facility Services. Following some conversations, he become my Mentor. When Ray saw an opening within the HSEQ Team he provided support throughout the application process and I was offered the role of HSEQ Business Partner within ISS’ Food Services business.


Going from Strength to Strength


I transitioned very quickly and was able to build strong relationships across the sector; but less than a year into my role, Corona Virus struck the world and a significant percentage of the hospitality sector went on hold. At this time the government implemented the Nightingale Hospital plan to prevent the NHS being overwhelmed. I supported the flagship NHS Nightingale Hospital London and helped to deliver this project in just 10 days.

Healthcare was not an industry that I had been previously exposed to but being a Veteran, I was used to adapting to challenges outside my comfort zone and focusing on achieving the mission statement. Safety was the key priority for the Project and from day one, we built a strong safety culture. I introduced myself and answered questions on safety for our employees and volunteers. Nightingale was insistent on a flat structure that truly valued everyone’s input.



Picture: a photograph of Barry presenting on the stage at V Festival


Ambassador for FM


Through my role with Nightingale I discovered there were many veterans on the project. I also worked with the Army who helped to mobilise a fully functioning hospital – something at the Army excels; and of course mobilisation is what FM performs for virtually every project. During discussions with veterans, I discovered that some did not want to make their background general knowledge due to some of the stigma attached to having served their country.

With my background and experience, the Nightingale project provided the perfect opportunity to showcase FM as the natural fit for people with skills gained in the Forces. The benefits to employing a veteran - in my opinion - are limitless; we have the soft skill most employers are looking for; we’re extremely adaptable, goal orientated with a strong work ethic.

Tim Proctor, HSEQ & CR Director commented: “We recognise that our UK Armed Forces, which recruits from all walks of life, do an unbelievable job for the country whilst possessing the skills, knowledge and behaviours that enhance our own customer service objectives. We really want to help service leavers find great second career opportunities; we also, selfishly, want to utilise their talents to connect people and places to deliver excellent service and expertise to all our stakeholders.”



Picture: a photograph of Barry Loftus


About JointForces@ISS


The JointForces@ISS programme has supported over 500 members of the Armed Forces Veterans and spouses to transition from the military to the civilian life workplace. The programme provides career advice, internships and other support to develop their skills and careers and our mentors have delivered more than 18,000 hours of support.

The next JointForces@ISS introduction is a virtual session on 27 May 2021 at 15.00. Find out more and register here. 

Picture: a photograph of Barry Loftus with ISS staff and a member of the armed forces at  Nightingale London

Article written by Barry Loftus | Published 26 May 2021


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