From The Corps of Royal Engineers to Senior Associate Project Manager

Mott MacDonald

Shane Lewis served in The Corps of Royal Engineers, for a total of 23-years, leaving as a WO1 in 2021. “My most memorable role was in 2018 out in Afghanistan as a Deputy Facilities Manager. My main responsibilities were the access and maintenance of the facilities on the base in Kabul. Responsible for water, power, air conditioning and other important aspects which allowed the other military personnel to be able to carry out their roles effectively. I was also responsible for minor new works and ongoing maintenance and overhaul of equipment. A great role working with locally employed civilians, contractors and other cap badges.

I am now a a Senior Associate Project Manager working for Mott MacDonald. After registering with BuildForce, they sent my CV through to the talent pool, which ultimately led to an interview and a successful offer. BuildForce made the right connections and opened doors to opportunities. They also offered a lot of other support, even if that was just a call for some advice. I was also aligned with a couple of mentors, which I found very useful. My family and colleagues were a great support also, both those who were leaving the military or were already successful in civvy street. I had also been a civvy between 2002 and 2009 so I had already had a taste of it and I knew where I wanted to go and what I wanted to do.

On a typical day, I give myself some space in the mornings to open emails and prioritise my tasks for the rest of the day. I will work through these tasks in between client meetings and internal briefs that are already in the calendar. It is inevitable that something else will come in during the day which will mean that I may end up adjusting my priority list. There is a lot of communicating, checking in on people and making sure my end goal is always in sight when setting priorities. Typically, I will attempt to clear my desk before the end of the day but there are times that I am just comfortable that I won`t get everything finished and some work will continue in the next day and sometimes the coming days and weeks. Be comfortable with that but add it into your plan.

I’d say communicating with others is key, I spend 85% of my day communicating with others in order to complete a task. Anyone from the client to colleagues. I believe this is a key requirement and something which my military career helped me with. Also, adaptability and flexibility; not everything will go to plan, but we need to drive forward regardless. Being able to work under pressure, formulate a plan, communicate it effectively and move on is another skill I picked up over the years and I still use it today.

Advice I would give to others leaving the Armed Forces is to have a plan, speak to people early. BuildForce should be on that list. Understand what it is all about (it may not be what you thought it was). Once you have a plan and you have had those conversations, speak with a mentor and start to plan your resettlement, courses, next steps etc. This is key to a successful transition. You don`t need a back up plan, you need to be focussed on the plan you have, and it will work as long as you do your bit. Remember, things are not handed out and you will need to put in the time, but the rewards are endless.”