FROM THE REME TO BRITISH ENGINEERING SERVICES

We often talk about our relationship with Careers Transition Partnership (CTP), which supports people leaving the military and returning to civilian life.  Not only is the fantastic British Engineering Services team made up of many service leaders, we've recruited a number via the CTP directly.
Lianne Turley, Head of Recruitment and Talent, and Lee Chapman, Engineer Surveyor, attended a CTP careers event in Manchester earlier this month, where they both did an amazing job of promoting our company as the great place to work that it is.  Lianne took to the floor to share our mission of making Britain a safer place, followed by Lee who talked about his own experience transitioning from the REME to civilian life.

Lee  then followed his presentation with a short piece on LinkedIn, which made us extremely proud.

My Name is Lee Chapman and I’m an Engineer Surveyor of the machinery discipline. I’ve been with British Engineering Service for just over 2 years and I cover the West Midlands area.

I served within the Royal Electrical Mechanical Engineers (REME) as a vehicle mechanic for a total of 14 years. I joined the military at the age of sixteen in 2003, straight from school and had never experienced working within a civilian environment. During my service, I saw a tour of Iraq and two tours of Afghanistan as well as other trips across the Middle East and many large-scale exercises worldwide. I gained experience in maintaining, repairing and inspecting a wide range of military vehicles with different units. I submitted my notice to leave the forces at the age of 30, achieving 12 reckonable years of service. I had reached the rank of Sgt by my 8 year point and managed to complete a Foundation Degree in Engineering in my own time. I was awarded the REME Master General Commendation for my engineering ability and technical leadership efforts in Afghanistan in 2012 and is one of my proudest achievements.

During the transition period, I had a lot of thoughts, feelings and worries. I asked myself many times if I was doing the right thing, will I get a job? Can I afford to leave? How will I cope mentally? I had done very well in my military career in a short period of time and had complete job security. I wasn’t leaving the forces for many negative reasons and it was mainly family driven reasons for why I decided it was time to leave. My youngest daughter was 3 at the time, she would panic and cry every time I put my uniform on as she didn’t know when I would be back, even just for the day. I had to start getting ready at work. We don’t really see some of the effects of disappearing for weeks on end has on our little ones until it’s too late. What I realised was that no matter how well you do in the military, once you leave you’re replaced. No one remembers all the hard work you had done in the past, but your family certainly remember all the times that you weren’t there. Each day I would look for another new positive reason to back up my case for my early exit. With a young family at my side, this was a big step for us all and the beginning of a new adventure, an adventure that we are all excited to start.

I went to a Career Transition Partnership Employment Fair and this is where I first met the recruitment team from British Engineering Services. I had no idea who they were or what they offered. I had been fixated on staying within the automotive trade and hadn’t really considered other roles. They were looking for new Engineer Surveyors to join their team, a role I was unfamiliar with. They took the time to advise how my current experience was transferable to a role within their company. After chatting about what the job role entailed and the perks involved, I was instantly interested.

Unfortunately, there wasn’t an opportunity open within my area on the day of the event but the Careers Team kept in touch. A role became available in the right location so I was invited up to their Head Office in Manchester for an interview and was soon offered a job with a fixed starting date for an all-inclusive training package. I was delighted with the opportunity and with no hesitation I accepted.

I left the REME on a Friday and started with British Engineering Services on the Monday, leaving no time for nerves or second thoughts. I arrived in Manchester for the start of my 12-week+ training period not knowing what to expect, who I was going to meet or if I was able to adapt into life beyond the military. I arrived on the train with just one bag, a very similar feeling to when I arrived at basic training. All I could think was that this is it, week one day one all over again. I was soon put at ease when I learnt that my training partner was also ex-Forces and that we were in the same position. At that point, I didn’t know that we would be side by side for a huge chunk of the training, traveling from hotel to hotel around the county and training together.

My transition felt as though there was no transition at all and seems very natural. A skill we gain in the military is being able to adapt to new environments, meet new people and significant change; those skills combined with a company that understands how to treat people well and take the time to truly invest in you as an individual has made the transition very enjoyable.

My current role now involves carrying out lifesaving engineering inspections on all kinds of machinery in many different environments to which is fantastic and every day is a different day. Our appointments are booked by our dedicated central planning team in Manchester. I carry out detailed reporting electronically on site which is perfect for me and also the client. The client receives the report same day and once I arrive home, my work is done. I get to liaise with and advise all kinds of customers and help to make sure they are compliant with regulations that are governed by their industry in the UK (including LOLER and PUWER). Our inspections are very important and not only do they help to keep Britain safe, we also identify defects early to help prolong the life of the clients machinery.

Some of the equipment I inspect include passenger lifts, goods lifts, disabled lifts, mobile cranes, piling rigs, fork lifts, telescopic handlers, recovery vehicles, lifting tackle, dock levellers, order pickers, mobile elevating working platforms, PPE, gymnasium equipment, playgrounds and many other items. I travel to many different sites, anything from schools, factories, warehouses, retail parks, office buildings, playgrounds and farms. Literally every day is different and it keeps me on my toes with fresh thoughts.

One of the main perks I find brilliant is the ability to work flexible hours. I have two young children and I’m lucky enough to start my day after the school run. If I ever need to attend appointments etc, all I need to do is email the planning team with the location and duration. It’s then slotted into my day and all the work is then planned around it. I also really like out car allowance, it allows the flexibility to drive whatever car I want as long as it’s fit for purpose.

In this role we need to know a lot of information to aid us with our client relationships and inspection procedures, luckily we have a dedicated technical team on hand to help us if we get stuck on site. We also have electronic access to all the technical documents for all equipment’s on our Windows Surface Go tablets, which is another fantastic perk. Having the right information, technology and equipment in place to carry out our reporting efficiently is very important.

I look forward to working with the British Engineering Services family for the foreseeable and hope to inspire others to consider joining us when they are in transition from the military.​