Today is Armed Forces Day, an annual event to commemorate the service of men and women in the British Armed Forces. At Kier, we recognise the significant part industry plays in supporting our Nation’s Armed Forces community. We were one of the first companies to sign the Armed Forces Covenant in 2013 and in 2016, we were awarded a Gold Award in the prestigious Defence Employer Recognition Scheme from the Ministry of Defence.

We collaborate with the Armed Forces Career Transition Partnership to offer a recognised and accelerated route into our industry and here, Ross MacKenzie our managing director for Infrastructure Major Projects talks about his years in the forces and his transition into the built environment.

“I had always wanted to be in the Forces, and I learnt to fly a plane before I could drive a car. I was sponsored through school by the RAF and whilst studying mechanical engineering at the University of Surrey I became more interested in leadership and the Army became my preferred choice. After graduating university, I went to the Royal Military Academy Sandhurst where all officers in the British Army are trained to take on the responsibility of leading their soldiers.

After leaving Sandhurst I was an officer in the Princess of Wales’s Royal Regiment. It is an Infantry regiment which means I was at the heart of the action. The role of the Infantry is at the core of the Army; from peacekeeping to combat operations, anywhere in the world. During my time in the Regiment I did several operational tours and held many posts, from leading soldiers on operations to working in the Ministry of Defence and Cabinet Office. Most of my Army career was spent delivering large scale operations and crisis management.

I left the Army as a Major and decided that after spending 12 years in the Forces I wanted the opportunity to try a new career. I was introduced to the built environment and my previous company by a friend of mine that I had been in the Army with. A lot of ex-Infantry offices work in the City, but I wasn’t interested in that and I wanted to be involved in building something with a legacy attached to it. With my experience and my degree, infrastructure seemed to be a good fit and I have worked in the field ever since.

My first role in the industry was as a planning manager for the complex building integrator at Gatwick Airport. I enjoyed it and ended up working across the entire programme at Gatwick for the client. I worked my way up to sector director at my previous company and after 10-and-a-half years there I joined Kier.

I am now Kier’s managing director for Infrastructure Major Projects, leading the business unit that delivers some of the largest and most complex infrastructure projects in the UK. This includes projects such as the widening of the A13, the Luton DART and Hinkley Point C, the first new nuclear power station to be built in the UK in over 20 years.

Joining this industry has proved to be the best move I could have made after leaving the Armed Forces. The built environment has many parallels to the Forces, and I would recommend it to anyone looking to make the transition. It has high levels of camaraderie, structure and most importantly, you have to deliver. There is also a wide variety of roles for ex-Forces personnel so it’s well worth a look.

For anyone who works with someone who is ex-forces, take a minute to ask them what they did. They’ll appreciate it and you might learn something – it’s a really interesting career path to learn about.”