Nick Medlicott

Highways England

From Royal Navy Lieutenant to Project Manager

Nick served in the Royal Navy from 1986 -2018, part of the Fleet Air Arm. He completed a successful career at the rank of Lieutenant; initially starting out as an aircraft mechanic, completed training as a technician, reached WO2 and then commissioned into an air operations support branch.

Nick was the operations officer for a unit providing specialist support personnel to ships and aviation units around the world – an Armed Forces version of a temping agency! Whilst serving, key skills Nick gained were: communications, mentoring, conflict resolution, leadership and management, appraisal reporting and HR functions.

Nick gained his current role as Project Manager for Highways England through an online application. Support organisations such as BuildForce and the Officers Association supported his transition to “civvy street” as well as networking with other Veterans, learning from their experiences and benefiting from their wider network and potential opportunities. A main focus on one sector rather than a wide spectrum gives a more focussed successful approach. The main challenge of Nick’s transition was the emotional upheaval; sourcing a new place to live, the financial aspects, etc.

A typical day now for Nick, includes the following:

  • Stakeholder meetings- discussing project progression, task updates and support as required
  • Drafting change documents – Deeds of variation, Business Cases, Processes and Procedures.
  • Learning new aspects of the highways environment – reading and talking to experts about regulations, support contracts and operational considerations.
  • Project management – given a task and managing it through its life cycle – learning on the way!

Nick has gained many transferable skills during his naval career but the following have been instrumental in his new role with Highways England: communications, stakeholder engagement, change management principles, risk management and developing business cases for investment approval.

Nick’s advice to those leaving the Armed Forces and considering a career in construction was:

“Exploit all free resources and support services (veteran agencies, social media, magazines etc.). Don’t be afraid to contact a veteran who is employed in your target sector – I never met anyone who didn’t have half an hour to chat over tips etc.

Talk their language! Analyse your CV and tease out the transferable skills, what they were and what they achieved. Build a relevant LinkedIn network and look for veteran connections in the companies/sector you are targeting.”

And finally, when asked what three words he would use to describe a career in construction, Nick replied:

Varied, Challenging and Interesting.