SCS Dream Team: The Veteran, the Mentor and the Director


Gregg Purcell, Senior Construction Manager – Logistics, with SCS advised “Rob Hale was introduced to Skanska in late 2020 via BuildForce. After a short interview process it was immediately obvious that Rob would be able to add real value to the organisation harnessing his previous military experience. He joined in March 2021 and proved to be a great addition to the SCS logistics team and has come a long way in the last 3 years. The initial goals were to help him transition into civilian life on a major construction project, instil some military thinking, attitudes and values to our team and ultimately provide a springboard to move onto other opportunities. Rob’s tenure enabled all those goals to be successfully achieved.

Over the last 3-years Rob has provided some great structure and a solid backbone to the SCS logistics team and has hoovered up both innovative, exciting and (occasionally) mundane tasks with all the skilled professionalism and ‘can do’ attitude that we originally anticipated. I know frustration was there occasionally, but Rob kept moving forwards. He has also been a great example to some of the younger and less experienced recruits about how to conduct yourself, at all times, in a professional work environment.

I have personally learnt a lot from Rob and have a much deeper respect for the work Angela, Caroline and the wider BuildForce team  are doing. If BuildForce continues to identify and offer up candidates as skilled and capable as Rob then the outlook and future opportunities for ex-service folk is bright.”

Rob Hale served in the RAF for 34 years, attaining the rank of Squadron Leader, leaving in 2021. Rob spent most of his career as an RAF Logistic Officer, initially specialised in fuels management, completing the Long Army Petroleum course. Moving to RAF Air Movements and Explosives management areas of expertise. The final part of his military career was spent with UK Specialist Units both in the UK and on exchange working alongside the US in the Middle East in a variety of positions. Rob advised “the step across to something new after a long military career can be a bit daunting but it is worth remembering that many have gone before and done well.  I personally found the move to the construction industry an easy step with there being a lot of commonalities.

As with any new job there will be that initial apprehension and having to come to terms with new processes and language, but this is where the military mindset can help. The ability to accept being temporarily uncomfortable is a strength that ex-military personnel bring, not everyone does. Accept that you will not know the industry on day 1, but you are able to learn and adapt quickly.  Listen and ask questions, the company hired you, so they want you to succeed. If you are able get out onto site, do it to appreciate the wider aspects of the industry so you can start to understand what people are talking about.

With regards to resettlement training courses. remember you do not have to be the finished article. Your employer wants you for the skills you already have and what you can bring to the organisation, if they need you to have additional skills the employer will provide this. Since I have been with SCS Railways I have completed training in:

  • Tunnelling operations
  • Construction Site Management
  • Construction Logistic Planning for major projects
  • Managing major medical trauma on sites/tunnels
  • Fleet Management

That said, do not underestimate the skills you are able to bring on day 1, things such as effective communication, timekeeping and tenacity will have been taken for granted in the military, they are not always common in other industries. Military personnel bring flexibility and can adapt quickly and absorb what is going on around them. Working well in a team, whilst also developing the other members of that team is something that comes naturally. They will also have a range of personnel management skills and will not be daunted by difficult conversations. All military personnel will also have leadership skills.  In this industry there are lots of managers, not all are leaders, there will be times when leadership is required; do not be afraid to lead.

Having been away from the military for 3 years the main takeaways for me are:

  • Do not be afraid to reach out to those military personnel who have gone before, they will be happy to chat and explain their role and how they got there.
  • Be proactive in your own personal development, there are lots of opportunities to learn and expand your knowledge, do not be shy.
  • Be willing to take on new tasks and make it work, these may not always be the most glamourous, but do not be afraid to take it on, it is all good experience.”

Mark Starosolsky, Logistics Director at Skanska and Logistics Lead at SCS JV HS2, “the success of Rob in his role with SCS demonstrates the value of the BuildForce programme to all of us. Rob arrived with fantastic knowledge, experience and enthusiasm and has proved himself as a very valuable member of team logistics. We are all delighted at his merited success and will continue to support BuildForce in supporting our ex-military.”