In September 2015, Zurich – one of the UK’s largest insurers – invited a number of serving and ex-service personnel to the inaugural Zurich Military Insights Initiative day at its general insurance head office in Whiteley, Hampshire.
The primary aim of the day was to recognise and support those who have left the armed forces, or are in their last two years of service, and who are looking for assistance in the next stage of their career outside the military.
Zurich already employs a high number of ex-service personnel in a range of roles, from inspection engineers to risk officers and project managers. Indeed, Zurich has long held the belief that armed services personnel possess many of the valuable skills and behaviours that it already values in its employees. Resilience, flexibility, decisiveness, leadership and management are the lifeblood of the military and are equally applicable at Zurich and the broader industry.
On what will be the first of many Zurich Military Insights Initiative days, several people in the Zurich business who had already successfully made the transition from the military to the corporate world shared their experiences and offered valuable and unique viewpoints.
Nearly 50 serving and ex-serving service personnel attended the event. The day was hosted by Georgina Farrell, head of HR, who set the scene by sharing her stories of working alongside military leavers within Zurich, making a point to highlight what ex-service personnel brought to the business from their previous lives.
The delegates were then formally introduced to a number of ex-military Zurich staff, who provided insight from their own experience of transitioning. To inform delegates about the sheer diversity of opportunities in the insurance business, Mark Fleming, head of engineering inspection services, explained how Zurich employs military leavers in, among others, the engineer surveyor role. The Zurich Resource Centre team was also on hand to take delegates through workshops on CV writing and interview techniques, sharing their insights on what makes a CV and candidate stand out and be effective.
The Zurich Military Insights Initiative exists to help Zurich tap into this valuable talent pool and promote Zurich as a potential employer as well as to help with the transition from military life. The initiative also helps Zurich encourage diversity in the workplace by enriching its culture by employing people with different experiences and points of view. Those servicemen and women that have been involved have also benefited from an overview of the insurance industry while learning about the different areas of the business and variety of roles available.
What is abundantly clear is that many ex-service personnel find the transition to ‘civvy street’ to be difficult but also that military leavers need to take their fate into their own hands and exploit the varied opportunities on offer. Likewise, gaining new qualifications and experience will enable many to succeed by blending new skills with existing military leadership and management skills.
Stepping out of the comfort zone, being adaptable and open-minded to change were also seen as great assets to prospective employers. The business landscape constantly shifts and the sheer amount of competition in the job market needs to be acknowledged. As a consequence, being perceived as open to change and having a positive frame of mind will ensure that new challenges, indeed new life chapters, can be tackled head on.
The next Zurich Military Insights Initiative will take place in September 2016: