Ex-Forces Career Advice

Ex-Forces Alumni Stories: Sarah Gear

John Smith

What was your experience during training?

“I started training in the Project Management stream in January 2016 and remember feeling part of a strong group again, sharing the same goals. Our similar backgrounds helped us bond as a team quickly and without real effort. The training was intense and covered a lot in a short space of time, but the organisational support from the FDM Ex-Forces team was outstanding.”

Tell us about your placement on client site. 

“I was offered a placement with a major bank as an IT Project Manager/Lead on a Financial Compliance project. We were working on a regulatory project to deliver the global strategic Financial Crime Case Management tool, developing a vendor product to fit the company requirements. After my placement ended, I converted to a permanent role with the client.

In 2019, I had the opportunity to join the bank’s internal development programme, which gave me training and support with the aim to move into IT Architecture. I am now working as a Solutions Architect in Wealth & Personal Banking and I’m involved with all kinds of projects at an early stage, providing technical leadership, strategic direction and solution design. I have also been working in the Enterprise Data Architecture team for the last few months, which is opening another very interesting specialisation.” 

What is something that you have learnt later in your career that you wish someone had told you when you first started?

“I have learnt (and am still learning) that nothing you do is wasted. Whether it is a job that you think is an outlier in your career or something you find a passion for, it is possible to bring it all together. After leaving the RAF, I decided to do a Law degree with the Open University and then realised I wanted to move into IT. This combination, plus my military experience, allowed me to bring a new and diverse perspective to my team and the challenges we face.”

Would you recommend FDM to other ex-forces personnel?

“Absolutely, I cannot recommend FDM highly enough. FDM gave me the chance to come back into a supportive learning environment and helped me beyond my time with them. There is so much on offer – it is one of the best decisions I have ever made.

FDM offered me a springboard into a new career while understanding the advantages and value of my Ex-Forces background. The combination of technical training and communication skills.

I never imagined I would be in the role I am in now, especially in such a short space of time. I knew I wanted to work in IT, but that has led to many more opportunities. I’m currently building up new skills and experience in Data Architecture, which is still a really steep learning curve, but I love it.”

To find out more about the career opportunities we offer to individuals who have served in the armed forces, check out the FDM Ex-Forces Careers Programme.