It can be tough figuring out who you are and where you want your career to go after leaving the military. However, with the right support, Nicola discovered that there are plenty of fulfilling paths for service leavers out there in the civilian world, including her exciting new career in cyber security.

March 2023

COVID-19 hit during my last month in uniform - not how I’d imagined my last few weeks as a soldier would be! However, I had already planned to take six months off to study and refocus, which I was still able to do. It was massively important for me to stop, take a deep breath and reflect on my career. I needed to discover who I was outside of the armed forces.

I was very grateful for the support I received from friends, colleagues and veteran groups during this time. The pause gave me the opportunity to catch up with so many people, some of whom I had not spoken to for 15-20 years. I was also part of TechVets, who deliver fantastic free training and advice for service leavers and veterans. When you leave the armed forces, continuing to be part of a (new) amazing and welcoming community really helps.

TechVets gave me the confidence to pursue a career in cyber security. They presented me with an opportunity to take on a 12-week internship, which I followed up with my first civilian job within the retailer NEXT’s cyber security team. That soft landing is something I’m very thankful for, as it paved the way for me to then accept a role at CGI as a Senior Consultant in 2021.

Why CGI?

Serving in the Royal Corps of Signals gave me a technical identity, and one of the Corps’ initiatives was to invite all service leavers to a 'civilian insight day'. These days are so informative and helpful and it was here that I first heard about CGI.

They gave such a fantastic presentation that made me feel confident about the future, and comfortable that they were certainly a responsible business. You could tell they really looked after their members, supported local communities, and were very receptive to welcoming service leavers. I just knew I’d be part of CGI one day.

I am actually still a 'reservist' within the armed forces and I serve within a specialist unit. Aside from everything else I’ve learned and loved about CGI, the company holds the Defence Employer Recognition Scheme Gold Award, which means they give me the time and support to carry out my duties as a reservist. That’s so important to me.

Service leavers have so many opportunities ahead of them

The moral and ethical tenets of the army’s values and standards are the foundation of who I am today.

Furthermore, being exposed to both military and technical leadership within a challenging and diverse environment, like the armed forces, is invaluable. As well as technical skills, additional qualities that military service can draw out of you are; working well under pressure and being able to react quickly to any situation; adaptability, focus, commitment and leadership; loyalty, empathy, and the ability to make decisions and be accountable for them; and also being self-confident, organised, a team player, and disciplined.

All of these things have formed a solid baseline for the consultant I am now.

You’ll find a new passion

Everyone travels their own path whilst looking for that next step, but taking hold of, and listening to advice is something I cannot recommend enough. After the initial hurdle of finding the right career fit, the transition was less challenging than I’d feared. I just made sure I focused on remaining confident in my abilities and what my skill set could bring to my next employer.

Today, my passion for my new career grows more every day. I find technology, the evolving cyber landscape and human behaviour fascinating. At CGI, there are many opportunities to do complex things well, deliver across numerous industries and make a real difference whilst working alongside amazing people. It’s very rewarding.

If you are ambitious, motivated and driven, CGI is the place to be - the learning never stops, and you will have the utmost support from everyone in whatever you do. As veterans, we even have a dedicated Uniformed Services employee/member network that is going from strength to strength.

It’s a true ‘win-win’ situation here: we help our clients, and as members, CGI is always helping us.

Find out more about a career in Cyber Security at CGI here.