Name: James Mowle
CIPD membership: Chartered Member
Current job title: Head of HR
Current employer: Babcock International
Employment status: Employed
Previous role: Army Officer
What was your role in the military?
I was an Army Officer working in the Army Headquarters in Logistics Supply Policy but I undertook a wide variety of general management, technical and personnel appointments during my career. On leaving the Army in 2012, I initially secured an interim role as HR manager and then Senior HR Business Partner before moving to Babcock International Group in 2017.
Why did you decide to move into your current role/field?
I decided to leave the Army under the redundancy programme as I felt that the time was right to do so. Having removed myself from the military environment completely for 5 years (which certainly wasn’t a bad thing) an opportunity then arose to move to Babcock in its Defence business.
What transferable skills did you identify would be useful in your new role?
Many and varied - included stakeholder management, communications, handling conflict, performance and career management, talent development and systems thinking.
What did you focus on to sell yourself during the application process rather than experience?
Flexibility and adaptability and the fact that I had performed operational and technical roles as well as HR, so I had experience and could add value from a number of perspectives. I knew HR, and had gained professional accreditation, but I was more than just HR and having walked in their shoes, what I do and say is often seen in a slightly more credible light by operational managers.
What went well during the transition?
I took every opportunity of support available during the very generous time for resettlement. The Career Transition Partnership events and workshops were useful, and although not everything was relevant to me, there were some real nuggets in there that were invaluable.
What role did continuing professional development (CPD) play in your transition?
I actively kept abreast of developments in HR as well as employment law during my military career, including attendance at CIPD branch events even though these may not have been directly relevant to my role in the Army or the way we did things. This ensured that I didn’t have to play 'catch-up' when I did decide to leave and undertook business management courses to boost my knowledge and employability.
How has the CIPD and continuing professional development (CPD) supported you during and after your career transition?
After transition I used the CIPD resources regularly and members of my teams over the years have benefited from taking part in CIPD learning and training. The CIPD profession map has also been useful to see where I’m currently at, where I’ve been and where I need to get to.
What are your top 5 tips for someone who is currently working in the Forces and wants to move into an HR or L&D role?
- Getting a job is a full time job – devote sufficient time and effort to it and target a few roles well rather than going for everything on the market with a generic approach.
- Become a ‘civilian’ – there is a much better understanding of what the ex-military can bring to the table, but there is still a degree of ignorance and confusion out there, especially when you can do more than one type of job (and do them all well); be gentle!
- Establish relationships with those who might place you in a role – there are a lot of agencies out there (as well as those who profess to be able to get you a foot in the door at networking events). Look into these and sell yourself, not just the employer; to the recruiter and you’re almost there.
- Be confident in your abilities and identify what makes you different and is of real value to an employer.
- Don't forget your past career, but don't hang onto it either at the sacrifice of moving forwards.