After 12 fun filled years as an officer in the light infantry I was ready for a change. I had achieved what I set out to do, having travelled and conducted operations all over the world, including a 2-year stint in Pakistan which was the highlight of my military career. I also had the honour of commanding a company of over 200 men and women. However, after destroying my left knee and with the rest of my body creaking, I desired a more ‘settled’ future.
A second career is definitely on the cards for a 32 year old military leaver – many of the skills inculcated during your military life are highly desirable by business in general. Having decided to leave, I knew I needed to identify a growth industry to target, and after many days of research ‘tech’ stood out. As a teenager I messed around a lot designing web pages and other basic programs which I remember enjoying, as well as some more nefarious activities I won’t mention here. I have always had a desire to make something work properly, and understand how it works. This, it turns out, makes programming both incredibly engaging and rewarding.
I discovered TechVets, a group based on the social media platform Discord, specifically set up to help military leavers get into tech. I spotted a post which highlighted a training scheme for dt-squad, a startup run by a couple of very experienced business people in the industry. It was recommended by the TechVet community as an excellent and rare opportunity, though it would require a considerable time commitment.
Initially, after investigating the dt-squad website, it seemed the timeline was all wrong for me. I was leaving the Army too far into the future, and they were looking for people to join a full time course now. I decided to call the number on the poster anyway, and I am very glad I did, as this was my first of many interactions with Peter Brookes-Smith. After an hour of conversation, discussing values, his aims for the company and the types of people and skills he was looking for, we set a more formal initial interview, after which I was very excited to become part of the team and on the training scheme. ‘Win-win’ is one of its key values, and this opportunity was (and still is) certainly that for me.
3 months later of 2 x 2 hour training sessions a week with Peter and Sush, plus plenty of homework, and I can’t quite believe how much I have learnt. I realised that coding allows me to get ‘into the zone’ – I could spend 4 hours working a problem and not realise it. This hasn’t come without difficulties, and it has been a challenge for me to balance the required commitment to training with a full time job planning overseas operations, responsible for the lives of soldiers.
You can play Hangman and Speed Hangman on my personal website.
Having finished the production of ‘Hangman’, I am now moving onto database management using MySQL, which is a core requirement for my next project. I aim to design a simple web app that allows project managers to predict and track spend, with a military focus. This was something that certainly wasn’t available to me when managing military projects, and I aim to create a tool that will help Staff Officers across the British Army in their financial management of Projects or Operations.
I officially leave the army in September 2021, and before that point I hope to complete my MBA and I certainly have a lot more to learn about software development. I look forward to helping dt-squad best deliver its clients’ objectives, maintaining the ‘win-win’ attitude throughout.
Please feel free to get in touch, I am available to answer any questions and would love to help others on their own journey.
Veteran Infantry Officer, leader, problem solver, mid-career changer, tech enthusiast and West Ham season-ticket holder.