Meet Our Armed Forces Veterans | Compass Group UK&I

Hear from our veterans...

  • Mark Armstrong

    Technical Services and H&S Director

    Mark is an Army Veteran and an RAF Veteran Spouse, between them he and his wife served in their respective services for a total of 64 years; Mark left the Army in January 2015, Joining Compass the same month.
    Service highlights:  I was an aircraft engineer in the REME for 25 years before moving into Defence Infrastructure for my final 8 years of service.  I deployed on 6 operational deployments which included: the first Gulf War, Northern Ireland, the Balkans, Iraq and Afghanistan.  I was fortunate enough to serve with both Commando and Airborne forces, with the standout tour being the Commanding Officer of 7 Air Assault Battalion REME; which I commanded during the second Gulf War.  I left the Army as a Major General.
    Compass career so far:   I initially joined ESS as an internal consultant before identifying the need for a Technical Director to oversee compliance within the delivery of Hard FM services.  I then established the Engineering Support Team to deliver Pre-Planned Maintenance tasks across the PPP-IML estate.  In late 2018, Health & Safety for the UK & Ireland business was added to my portfolio.
    What have you learnt in the civilian world post military service:   There are a lot more similarities between working in civvie street and in the military than you might think.  People still react better to good management than poor and you soon find that you have a strong working bond with your colleagues; what is different is the social side which is not as strong as folks head off in different directions at the end of the day – there isn’t any Mess life.
    Advice to service leavers:  Don’t underestimate the transferable skills you have attained during your military service.  If you have 60% of the attributes in the advert then apply for the job, and ‘Don’t turn down a job that you haven’t been offered’.  You have likely spent a lot of time away from home during your military career, so be sure of where you wish to be located and the terms and conditions you are looking for.
  • Camilla Howard
    Contract Director United Learning
    Chartwells Independent

    Camilla is a RAF Veteran and Army Spouse and left the service 6 years ago.

    Service highlights: 11 ½ years in the RAF covering roles from Media Communication, Adjutant, Head of HR, Estate Manager, Mobilisation Project Manager and Infrastructure Programmes.

    Compass career so far: I joined Compass Group’s Defence sector straight out of the RAF as an ESS Operations Manager for the National Training Estate Prime (NTEP) contract looking after Soft Facilities management across the UK. I was then promoted to the Director of Operations for NTEP and expanded my portfolio to look after the US Air Force contracts (cleaning) and the Royal School of Engineering (RSME) PFI contracts which totalled 40 sites across the UK. I then moved across to manage the ESS Hestia South West Wiltshire and Gloucestershire region as an Operations Director (Catering, Retail, SFM, Hospitality) before moving internally, cross-sector, to join the Education sector as part Chartwells Independent. I am currently the Contract Director for United Learning looking after 18 independent schools.

    What have you learnt in the civilian world post military service: That time keeping and punctuality is slightly different but that might just be my OCD! There is such a large military community across the different sectors within Compass Group that it still feels like a family and you know someone everywhere you go, so it actually doesn’t feel too different from the military.

    Advice to service leavers: Treat resettlement as a job in itself! Set out your red lines areas such as: what salary would you not want to go below, where you want to be based, and what your commute limit is. That way you can discount any roles that don’t fit within those boundaries and you don’t waste time investigating them further. Then just go for it, it’s not as scary on ‘the dark side’ as many people think!

  • Allan Blackmore

    Culinary Director - Levy UK + I

    Service: Army

    Rank: Private

    Length of Service: 5 Years

    Service highlights: Working as part of a team and the camerarderie.

  • Phil Jones

    Facilities Manager - 14Forty

    Phil is a Royal Air Force Veteran and has been out of uniform for 8 years.

    Service highlights: 30 years in the Royal Air Force Logistics (Catering) Branch. Working in all facets of military Catering from In-Flight, Mobile Catering, Three Mess Structures and VIP. Later part of my Service Career was in Facilities Management both UK Based and Overseas Deployments.

    Compass career so far: I joined Compass Group’s Defence sector, ESS Defence, as a Unit Manager at Swynnerton and Nesscliffe Training Camps operating under the National Training Estate Prime (NTEP) contract. I was then deployed as the Contract Business Support Manager on the US Air Force contract, looking after cleaning contracts on 5 bases covering Schools, PXs’, Commissaries and Medical Facilities. I then took the opportunity to expand my portfolio and took a position with 14forty – B&I Facilities Management Division of Compass Group as Service Support Manager for 6 GE sites in the Stafford Area.

    What have you learnt in the civilian world post military service: The pace and planning of tasks and projects is a lot slower. Everything has a cost implication. Being proactive and using your own initiative is not always the answer in a ‘client led’ environment.

    Advice to service leavers: Don’t under value yourself. Use every penny of resettlement that is offered. Hone in on CV writing skills (take out military jargon). Get yourself into that interview chair. The more interviews you take, the more comfortable and natural this becomes. Most Service personnel only interview at the start of their careers which could of been 15, 20, 30 years previously.