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Military Transitions

Recognition of unique skills

In Zurich, we recognise the unique skills and talents which military leavers can offer a business such as ours. We already employ a high number of ex-service personnel in a range of roles from Inspection Engineers, to Risk Officers and Project Managers.

To assist personnel transitioning from the military to their new careers, Zurich has established a programme which aims to provide awareness, advice and support.

Contact us

If you would like to register your interest in the programme, please get in touch:

  • Graham Crouch, Engineer Surveyor, Lift/Crane

    A day in the life of an engineer surveyor. (Lift/Crane)

    Leaving the forces after 22 years was a rather daunting prospect but Zurich was very understanding and supportive. Since joining Zurich and from day one I felt like a valued employee. Everybody from the Head of Engineering and the Area Managers down to the newest recruit are on first name terms, this makes it a very welcoming and open company to work for that makes you feel you are truly part of a team.

    One of the main advantages I see with the role is the flexibility, you don’t clock in and out every day. It’s not a straight 8-5 role, as you work from home you can adjust times to suit your needs but also your clients. If you need to pick children up from school or drop them off you can fit your working day and planning / reporting in around it, even working in the evening after the kids are in bed if that suits best.

    Generally my day starts early at 06:30 (my choice) when I leave the house, trying to avoid the worst of the rush hour, and head to my first client, company car provided and travelling time is included in the working day. Depending on the client and location I try to start inspections between 07:30 – 08:00. Depending on the work this could be one client for several days, or several clients in one day. I grab a butty for lunch and aim to be home mid-afternoon (tea break) this is my 8 hr point. I then complete the days reporting, answer emails and plan further work for the following weeks or month in my home office. It’s also a good time for completing expenses and attending webinars on the company’s progress.

    All work information, reporting, emails, training is available on your issued Toughbook. This goes with me to every client, you then have all the information to hand. Even if another client calls, you can pull up their details and discuss their issue immediately. We also have 3G smartphone access and can send and receive information on the move if required.

  • Judith Wilkinson, Talent, Learning & Development - Zurich Academy UK

    Hailing from the West Midlands, Judith joined the Royal Navy after completing her education. Nine years in the Women’s Royal Naval Service took her to Hong Kong, working with the Intelligence Services. Other tours of duty included exotic places such as Derby, for RN and WRNS Recruitment and Careers, and Northwood in Middlesex, where she was stationed during the Falklands Crisis. Judith also had the privilege of being the first woman to serve on a front line naval air squadron at Royal Naval Air Station Yeovilton.

    On leaving the forces she joined a Hotel Group as a Training Officer, whilst at the same time studying for her CIPD qualification.

    Four years later, Judith re-established her maritime links after moving to what was the UKs largest ferry operator, Sealink. As Training Manager her role was to help with the transition from a Public sector organisation to one with a strong commercial culture.

    Following the acquisition of Sealink by Swedish based Stena Line, Judith moved to the Bristol and West Building Society, later to become part of Bank Of Ireland.

    After 7 years, Judith moved within the Financial Services Sector to her current company, Zurich Financial Services, as part of a shared service Learning and Development function. Her role now encompasses working with the UK Underwriting and Finance Functions as well as overseeing some Management Development offerings. In 2011 Judith was a Keynote speaker at the World of Learning Conference.

    Judith is a trained coach and counsellor, is qualified in a number of psychometric tools, and recently has been a Mentor for the Princes Trust. In her spare time Judith likes to spend time, appreciating the simple things in life – in the South of France.

  • Mark Almond, Risk Analyst Zurich Risk Engineering

    I left the Royal Air Force in 2013 after completing almost 23 years’ service as a Station Fire Officer (SFireO) specialising in providing expert 24/7 airfield crash and structural domestic firefighting cover, as well as providing fire safety compliance and training and advice to the Station Commander and other Station Executives.

    Whilst serving in the RAF I completed many UK and Operational tours including the Falklands Islands, Bosnia, Kuwait, Iraq and Afghanistan, undertaking dynamic roles ranging from Firefighter, Station Manager, Fire Safety Officer to Theatre Fire Safety Officer at Camp Bastion.

    UK tours included 4 years at the Defence Fire Training Establishment at Manston, managing and designing an Apprenticeship in Aviation Operations on the Ground for Trade Group 8, as well as teaching various fire service courses.

    Whilst serving I was lucky enough to gain part time employment as a Fire Safety Consultant for Lawrence Webster Forrest who contracted me to undertake comprehensive fire risk assessments and provide guidance to Western Sussex Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust. I also gained further part time employment at Suffolk and Norfolk Probation Service as an Unpaid Work Supervisor looking after offenders who carry out community service as part of their court order.

    Since joining Zurich Insurance I have completed an 18 month training program, which resulted in being successfully signed off by our Risk Engineering Technical Centre (RETC) as a Q2P qualified Risk Analyst to undertake risk assessments which include, Fire, Security, Flood, Business Interruption and Business Resilience.

    Transition to Civvy Life

    I personally found the transition difficult as officially I was still serving in the RAF and there was so much to handover prior to leaving as well as preparing for my new life.

    Adapting to change is one of the key attributes we have, dealing with problems, prioritising workloads, finding solutions and being able to act in a way which stands us out from the rest. The skills I acquired whilst being an Apprenticeship Manager at Manston, looking out for others and being open and honest has ensured cohesion within my new team and most of all respect.

    Working from home and being independent has been tough, however having the skills of self-discipline, leadership, drive and enthusiasm has ensured I can give Zurich 100% commitment.

    I have also undertaken secondary duties away from my normal day job by being involved in several high profile projects and charity support days which are highly valued by my employers.

    Why I Left the Service

    There comes a time in your life where decisions have to be made and your priorities change including personal circumstances, being away from my family weeks at a time and wanting stability without having to go OOA every 12-18 months.

    This is when I decided to contact a good friend of mine who has been with Zurich for the best part of 15 years, to see if the company were recruiting. Fortunately for me they were looking to recruit a Risk Analyst to cover the area where I was living. Following a successful interview I was offered the job, this is where my new career with Zurich started, 16th January 2013.

    Networking with Zurich employees before and after leaving the service is very much an essential part to success and also to any future advancement.

    Skills transferred from RAF days

    Risk management: Identifying risks to the customer and being able to give expert advice in the control measures required to reduce the likelihood of a risk occurring.

    Management & Leadership: Able to manage workloads, take control of any situation, carry out training and development, train other colleagues and deputise for my Team Leader.

  • Martin Hull, Information Risk Officer, UKGI

    I joined the Royal Air Force as a Fighter Controller in early 1997. During my 16 years’ service I served in the UK and abroad, as far afield as Afghanistan and the Falkland Islands. Fighter Control was rebranded in the mid-2000s to Aerospace Battle Manager, which fitted the role more accurately in terms of what we did, Air Defence of the UK and managing airspace and air assets in times of crisis and conflict.

    On leaving the RAF in 2013 I started work as the General Manager for a sailing association in London. I found this extremely exhilarating, albeit with a steep learning curve with all the trappings that running a company brings.

    Although I gained an immense satisfaction from the position, after 18 months I found that I had limited opportunities for progression and felt a change was needed. It was during this time that I received information on a career opportunity within Zurich through some networking. Having investigated the position, I felt it was the right time to take another step into the somewhat unknown area of insurance. I initially took up the position of Information Governance Assurance Manager, but have recently been promoted to Information Risk Officer.

    This involves me protecting Zurich’s information, whether digital or paper and highlighting the risks involved with this. The position gives me a really good overview of the business as a whole and allows me to do a certain amount of travelling to other Zurich locations so that I’m not just office bound.

    Personally speaking, I am really enjoying the opportunities that Zurich is offering me in meeting new people and assisting them in keeping Zurich’s data safe.

    Transition to Civvy Life

    On entering the resettlement period, I had no real idea what I wanted to do when I left. I certainly never expected to be working in insurance! I found the Officers Association an extremely useful source of information and it was through them that I managed to get my first job outside. To be fair, I had geared most of my resettlement around gaining sailing qualifications as this was something I was interested in and I was lucky enough to be able to find something that fitted my interest. Nevertheless, I am always open to new opportunities and not afraid to step out of my comfort zone and try something new; hence my move to Zurich.

    Generic Essential Military Skills

    Leadership / Management – The military provides you with a vast amount of these essential skills, whether you know it or not and you will find that you are far more capable than you think when it comes to putting this into practise amongst civvys rather than the military. Just remember to phrase things slightly differently. You will find things run much smoother if you politely ask someone to do something rather than ordering them to do it!

    Networking – I know this is mentioned constantly during your resettlement, but I can’t stress how important this is and to keep up your networks. I wouldn’t be in the position I’m in now, were it not for keeping my ear to the ground and maintaining contact with the people I’ve met in the past.

    Decision Making – You probably already know this, but I was once told that it is better to make a decision, rightly or wrongly, than making no decision at all. I stand by this wholeheartedly and you will often find yourself making the decisions when others are sitting on the fence.

    Confidence – Be confident within yourself that the skills you have are highly valued within industry and that you are able to sell yourself and play on your strengths. This will stand you in good stead for your future career.

  • Samuel Watts, Senior Claims Adjuster, Financial Lines Claims

    I went from school, to sixth form college, to university to the College of Law. When I finished I was on the lookout for a training contract which is the final two years of on the job training which is needed to qualify as a solicitor.

    Training Contracts are notoriously difficult to obtain so while I was applying I started work as a paralegal, which is essentially an office clerk for a law firm. The work is not particularly challenging so I started to look for something outside of work to keep me occupied and challenged while I waited for my career to take off. I ended up at the 4th (Reserve) Battalion of the Parachute Regiment in White City. I had very little understanding of what I was letting myself in for but decided to try to complete the recruitment process.

    I did somehow manage to complete the infantry training programme, as well as P-Coy and the wings course and 4 Para very quickly took over my life. I managed to secure a training contract and on an evening out with the firm the recruiting partner told me that the only reason I was invited to interview was because of my military service. He had a huge stack of CV’s on his desk with virtually nothing to distinguish between them and that was the one thing that lifted my CV from the others.

    I qualified as a solicitor in 2004 and at the back end of 2005 I was mobilised and sent to Iraq on Telec 7. It was shortly after my return in 2006 that I left 4 Para to concentrate on my career and to get married. I also obtained a new job as a claims handler for an insurer. This was the start of my career in insurance.

    Current role

    As a claims handler I am essentially dealing with claims made under policies that insureds hold. For me one of the most difficult parts of returning from Iraq was motivating myself in a job that revolved around money and paperwork, when I had spent 6 months in a role that revolved around life and death on a daily basis. However even this apparent difficulty turned out to be an advantage and turned out to be part of the skill from my military service that currently serves me best, and this is my ability to remain calm under pressure.

    My current role can be highly pressurised at times but the worst that can happen in an office is not even remotely comparable to the worst that can happen in the military. Things do go wrong in the office and whereas other people panic and become unproductive, I remain calm and do what needs to be done, calmly and efficiently. It is surprising how many apparent disasters can be averted or at least considerably mitigated if you approach them calmly and productively.


    Zurich, more than any other insurer I have worked for, encourages and provides for employees to apply for internal vacancies, so you can branch out and try other areas and other roles. For people who are, by their very nature, adventurous and constantly looking for the next challenge, it is an ideal environment in which to work.