From The Rifles to Assistant Project Manager


Callum Young served in the Rifles for 10 years between 2013 and 2023 leaving with the rank of Corporal. Callum advised “I started my career as an Infantry Soldier, working my way up to my most recent role as a Section Commander at the Infantry Training Centre, Catterick.  I was responsible for training new Infantry recruits through Basic Training and Infantry Trade Training for 6 months, including coaching and mentoring low skilled team members.  Some of the skills I obtained included communication of risk, issues and how to mitigate them with line managers but also subordinates.  Leadership and management – especially whilst in ITC, empowering junior team members to make the call and feel engaged in decision making.  Finally, resilience and the ability to continue unwaveringly even when work becomes increasingly tough.

I now work as an Assistant Project Manager, for AtkinsRéalis.  I’m currently working on the Defence Estate Optimisation Portfolio- a series of Defence Infrastructure Projects charged with developing the current owned military estate, providing a better lived experience for Serving members of the British army.  My role involves plenty of document generation, Teams meetings and managing/monitoring project finances.  The main skills I use in my new role are communication, leadership, efficiency, and resilience, all of I learned whilst serving in the Army.

I was able to obtain my new job through networking with individuals who were most competent with going through the transition from service life to civilian street and identifying what worked for them and in some cases what didn’t and applying it accordingly to my plan.  Creating a solid plan and alternate courses of action if Plan A doesn’t go accordingly was helpful.  My support network also offered a lot of backing and I found LinkedIn invaluable as it has a plethora of people in the same situation, if you identify likeminded individuals and convey ideas freely, the lessons learnt is exponential.  The Buildforce Mentor scheme was outstanding- being provided a mentor to guide me through the process and what to expect which helped a significant amount.

I was quite fortunate not to have any setbacks due to applying for the one job role and being employed straight away.  Conveying ideas onto a CV was probably the most my brain was rattled, having to put across information that is going to be analysed and critiqued very subjectively, is a necessary evil.  I would have like to see a greater emphasis on CV building and network generation during my transition.

My advice would be to liaise with individuals who have recently left, identify what worked, what didn’t work and apply their lessons in any way you can to your own circumstances.  The BuildForce network is invaluable for this.  Plan accordingly and timely, don’t leave it to the last minute, the 6-12 months will fly by if you’re not careful, identify short term goals regardless of size that will chip away to the overall goal.

Three words I would use to describe a career in Project Management – strategy, collaboration and communication.”