Ex-RAF driver Mark Ward, 35, went from military to management consultancy after joining Deloitte’s graduate scheme. “This is a career anyone can do – it isn’t just for senior NCOs or officers.”
His journey shows that the right attitude, approach and extra study can help veterans find fulfilling jobs offering progression. Explaining how he joined Deloitte’s graduate scheme, Mark highlighted the importance of company culture and employers who promote staff development.
Studying and serving
Earning an English Language A-level while serving, then completing a part-time Open University English degree over six years following his Service, Mark had good foundations for work after leaving the military.
Unfulfilled by a voluntary job, he needed to broaden his career horizons – but, older than typical applicants, he wasn’t specifically qualified or experienced. Nevertheless, he affirms that many companies do hire people with unrelated degrees: while not experts, they demonstrate willingness to learn and work by qualifying.
When COVID-19 hit halfway through his degree, Mark thought: “Where’s this taking me?” Consequently researching his options and refocusing his module choices to harness his strengths as a creative writer, he unknowingly developed skills and a mindset that would support his Deloitte interview process.
Finding the DeLoitte graduate scheme
Initially considering journalism and copywriting, Mark decided these careers were unrealistic – but, as a mature applicant, still needed to hit an earning threshold.
Signing up to prospects.ac he completed a career aptitude test which kept suggesting Deloitte. “The more I learned about them, the more they seemed right.”
Researching Deloitte, Mark discovered their graduate scheme and successfully apply for a job. “I’d have tried again the next year if I’d been unsuccessful.”
“The initial interview was the strangest I’ve had – there’s no way I could’ve prepared!” Impromptu job simulations tasked Mark with revitalising a flagging high street business and making an office more sustainable.
Thinking creatively and drawing on his military soft skills, he used architectural elements in his answers to demonstrate he’d listened to his interviewer’s seemingly-offhand personal career stories.
For veterans unsure of their job prospects, this is heartening – problem-solving skills are hardwired through military service, and Mark believed his military background also served him well in previous interviews.
A matter of culture
“The best thing about working here is the people.”
Mark values organisational culture highly, saying Deloitte is the best culture he’s worked in, with ultimate trust from management. “Sometimes you work late but you don’t mind – it’s a two-way street. Other employers haven’t been supportive even when I’ve had family in hospital.”
While serving, Mark showed an interest in promotion, but was told by a corporal to “forget it – you’re not going to get it”. He left the RAF after being diagnosed with PTSD. His requests for procedural changes to prevent its recurrence clashed repeatedly with those more senior to him.
“The military is great, but often resistant to change.”
Mark resolved on making life changes to avoid subconsciously absorbing these remarks and situations. At Deloitte, he feels he can challenge superiors to achieve positive change. “You feel you’re making a difference for clients – totally different from doing what you’re told and following a routine.”
Ex-military job seekers should be inspired by the number of progressive companies who actively uplift their employees.
Deloitte continually invests in Mark’s career development, facilitating Azure and AWS Cloud certifications alongside his in-progress Masters in Digital and Business Risk Management. Through Deloitte’s volunteer hub, Mark’s been tutoring English in schools, helping him give back. “I want to pay it forward and make learning interesting to people.”
He also praised the TechVets community’s ongoing support: “It’s a great start for anybody – always welcoming and accessible. Not all tech communities are newbie-friendly or helpful.
I attended a security pentesting course – getting that experience for the price of my hotel was invaluable, and proves useful at Deloitte.”
Mark also signed up to TechVets’ Splunk and Immersive Labs courses. This extra development will give him the edge for his Deloitte end of year reviews.
Stating how inclusive and supportive the wider veterans’ community continues to be, Mark emphasised that military leavers should, “Take advantage of the opportunities it offers.”
Anyone can do it
While the majority of Mark’s Deloitte colleagues are in their early- to mid-20s, he observed that there are now many joining in their mid-30s. Aware he was competing with Oxbridge graduates when interviewing for Deloitte, he rationalised, “the employer doesn’t know where you’ve studied. They know your name and nothing else.”
The Deloitte graduate scheme requires A-levels to enter. “Without that A-level, I wouldn’t have got this job,” Mark stated, but wonders how relevant they are versus extensive work experience.
Mark used his creativity and the example of his hard-won degree to convince Deloitte that, with skills and development support, he could enhance their proposition. “A company may say, ‘We’re taking military hires – but they wouldn’t have taken me with my work experience alone,” he said.
Now working to expand veteran opportunities at Deloitte, Mark advises service leavers to complete any training they’re considering, even if it’s daunting: the experience will equip you in practical ways exceeding the formal qualification. During his English degree he achieved a distinction writing a challenging piece he thought he’d never finish, completely changing how he viewed his own capabilities.
So for veterans willing to develop themselves, finding good opportunities is reassuringly possible. Mark said employers like Deloitte know what they’re getting when hiring a veteran: “I’m committed and won’t complain about nonsense!” His military background and work ethic continue to feature positively in Deloitte feedback sessions.
Opportunities at DeLoitte
Mark’s early decisions – like getting his A-level – positioned him well for his current role, and he’s resolved to avoid past “blinkered” missteps as he progresses. He said military colleagues should “stay future-focused and concentrate on your development rather than unimportant daily events.”
Deloitte offers plenty of social and networking opportunities, something Mark wholeheartedly recommends attending. “All it takes is speaking to the right person about your experience and aspirations.”
While still part of Deloitte’s graduate scheme, he has already been promoted, with an eye on specialising within cyber or ERP (Enterprise Resource Planning) by his next promotion. “It’s good to explore while you’re on a lower pay grade.”
“I don’t feel as old as I am,” he concluded about fitting into Deloitte’s culture and the fulfilment it’s brought him. “Except when my younger colleagues ask me to go for a pint!”
You can find more insights at the link below, and if you’re a veteran, service-leaver, reservist, or spouse, find your place in the TechVets’ community right here.