Antony Thompson went from Commando to CEO after his career with the Royal Marines took an unexpected about-turn. Read on for how he did it, in his own words.
Before launching his own company, Antony Thompson didn’t aspire to work in technology. As he tells TechVets, “I was seeking a greater calling and found that in the military.”He followed that calling through a distinguished career in the forces that included time in Afghanistan and selection for officer training.
While serving he developed practical, transferable skills and met mentors who inspire him to this day (like Royal MarineColonel Tony De Reya): “I spoke to [him] halfway through my career,” Antony shares. “I remember thinking to myself if I could be half the leader that this guy is then I know I’ve succeeded.”So how did Antony end up back in civvy life these days?
From Injury to a Technology Career After Military Service
“I left the military through injury,” Antony says, detailing how a weighted jump while training on the Brecon Beacons ended up rupturing multiple ligaments in his lower legs.
A desire to keep leading and “coaching people” helped him kick off his next chapter.“
I knew the only way that I’d have the freedom to do exactly what I wanted to do would be to create my own business,” he explains. That business became Loopin, a digital engagement tool designed to help understand, motivate, and inspire workers who communicate on software like Slack and MS Teams.
He founded it with a fellow former Royal Marine and now it’s used by companies across the UK and North America. “Loopin is going to be revolutionary,” says Antony.“ In another five years, Loopin will have a global footprint. We’ll be edging towards the ambition of having a global impact.”
His Practical Tips For Service Leavers in Tech
Antony believes his level of success is possible for other veterans in tech. If you’re wondering where to start, follow his top six pieces of advice:
1.“Find a business partner that you trust.”
2.“Make sure all the foundations of the business are laid early. Put your all into laying those foundations, make sure everything is aligned at the earliest possible stage.”
3.“Surround yourself with excellent people. Just find great people who believe in what you do and let them be creative and do what they specialise in.”
4.“Having the thought of: ‘I need to get motivated by that thing!’ isn’t going to give you motivation. I have a genuinely strong belief that motivation is a byproduct of action. You’ve got to go and do the thing to feel motivated.”
5.“Always make sure your personal development is at the top of your priorities. Read the books, go to the seminars, learn the topics. Because it builds you up for what’s going to come.”
6.“If there’s an opportunity for you to get business coaching, absolutely go for it. Its invaluable and truly helps to build on your resilience.”
As an important bonus, always remember- you already have great training!“
We are great at doing the basics. That’s what we could always rely on,” Antony admits, referencing his fellow service people. “You can create the plan, which will never survive first contact, but you’d always have your basics to fall back on to be able to adapt and overcome a situation.”
Veteran Jobs In Technology= Worth Fighting For
Antony knows how hard it is to transition out of army life. As he puts it, after “leading a team of men in some of the most hostile situations,” crossing the bridge to non-army work takes getting “used to.” He himself spent three years on the job hunt after hanging up his beret.“
It’s hard to know or filter out where you might go,” he says. “There’s nowhere that really signposts you to say, ‘Hey go and look at these 5 great opportunities!’Veterans need more awareness of the options available to them at the earliest opportunity.”
Like TechVets, Antony sees the need for more initiatives and schemes designed to empower veterans re-entering the workforce. Those supports can create unbeatable business people especially suited for jobs in his industry
“It takes a reasonable amount of discipline to work within cyber security and tech,” he adds. “In the military, a lot of your experiences are within threat evaluation and threat execution, so understanding from a strategic point of view where the threat might be coming from is a key attribute which is drummed into you. I think it’s a really great skill for all entrepreneurs. Being able to see beyond the immediate. It makes veterans a natural defence against cyber threats.”