Institute of Directors

  Mei Sim Lai OBE, John McLean OBE, Minister Ma Hui and Simon Wood at the IoD Chinese New Year of the Dog Celebration.

Mei Sim Lai OBE, John McLean OBE, Minister Ma Hui and Simon Wood at the IoD Chinese New Year of the Dog Celebration.

I work with the Institute of Directors in the City in a volunteer capacity as military liaison officer for its City of London Committee, helping people who are leaving the forces and want to come and work in London.

People from the military are extremely well trained. They have leadership and technical skills, but they don’t always know how to communicate what they’ve learned and what their skills are. A lot of what we do is advising companies on how to integrate them into their businesses. BT, for example, has recruited more than 2,000 ex-forces people in the past few years, and employs about 400 Reservists. In fact, two-thirds of the personnel in the specialist Reserve communications unit, 81 Signal Squadron, which provides fixed telecoms expertise to the Ministry of Defence, work for BT Openreach.

People used to think your only option was to go into security if you’d been in the Army, but there are so many alternatives. BT says they stay longer, get promoted more readily, take fewer sick days and are generally model employees. Given the size of its workforce, that saves BT millions of pounds on its bottom line. So there’s actually a business case for employing them.