Meet Wez, one of our brilliant engineers, and a member of our Veteran’s Network. He’s brought his can-do attitude from a career in the RAF to the fore to get stuck into the most challenging client projects.
We caught up with him to chat about his experiences in the forces, what he does at Roke and to discover a bit more about his passion for coding and cyber security.
Tell us about your military background?
In 2008, I joined the Royal Air Force (RAF) as a Movements Controller (non-commissioned). After finishing my initial basic training and holding at RAF Halton, my first posting was to RAF Brize Norton (the RAF’s main airport of embarkation) in Oxfordshire, working as part of Air Cargo. I was responsible for importation and exportation of everything from general cargo (think tools, aircraft and vehicle spares, mail and personal effect), dangerous goods (such as flammable liquids, explosives, ammunition), into the UK, and distributed all over the world for the MoD’s operations and exercises.
I next moved to RAF Lyneham in Wiltshire, joining United Kingdom Mobile Air Movements Squadron (44 UKMAMS), later Number 1 Air Mobility Wing. As a ‘mover’ I was accountable for not only the preparation and acceptance of goods, but also the load planning, physical loading and unloading of a multitude of aircraft platforms.
Load planning was crucial to enable the full use of carrying capacity, ensure optimum weight and balance distribution (aircraft trim), and permit streamlined offloading of cargo at the airport of disembarkation. I deployed all over the world in support of UK operations and exercises, including Afghanistan, Cyprus, United Arab Emirates and Qatar.
I then oversaw the Air Movements Coordination Cell at RAF Brize Norton, scheduling aircraft departures and arrivals into the airfield, directed personnel and equipment to enable efficient turn-around plans for each mission.
In 2015, I started studying part time with The Open University to earn a BSc. I left the RAF in 2021 serving 13 years with a degree in hand.
I was committed to making use of my degree and I wanted to get stuck into technology. When conducting my initial research for jobs outside of military life, I stumbled upon Roke. I was left with the impression that as a medium sized business, Roke is quickly able to adapt to changes in the industry via agile means. Roke’s website showed me innovation and solving hard problems are at the forefront of its business agenda.
What do you enjoy most about working at Roke?
Roke puts people first, by enabling its workforce. We are able to do unique and exciting things to solve difficult challenges for our customers. The community spirit is infectious as everyone is so passionate about technology. I’ve been lucky enough to complete a variety of training courses including ‘foundations of Agile working’ and a Cyber Security related bootcamp.
How has Roke supported you since you transferred to civilian life?
The Veteran’s network (an Employee Resource Group (ERG)) has been a lifeline. Being able to let off steam with people that understand your military background and talk the lingo has made the transition smooth. I participated in a mentoring scheme in my first month or two of joining Roke. I was paired with a veteran who had left a number of years prior. So, this allowed me to ask the silly questions and discover more about the business.
The Veteran’s ERG holds regular catch ups (weekly NAAFI breaks and quarterly breakfasts) for its member to get together and speak shop. Sharing prior details about service life, or interesting project technologies we’ve worked on over the past weeks or months.
How have you applied your military experience to your work at Roke?
The ‘can-do’ attitude and proactive nature service personnel possess helps to keep you moving forward. I’ve learned so much from just mucking in, even if the problem space is outside my typical skillset or area of responsibility. Similarly, leadership, sharing knowledge and bringing on those around you, to autonomy of going off to find solutions and deliver. Equally, this has allowed me to network with areas of the business I may not necessarily come into contact with otherwise.
What advice would you give anyone moving on from, or thinking of moving on from the armed forces?
Don’t be afraid to try something new. If you want to be challenged and tackle difficult problems then consider Roke a place that will nurture your curiosity. There will come a point you have to flee the safety net of military life, so why not come to Roke?
What do you do when you’re not working?
I would like to say I’m an avid athlete working out all the time, or that I love long walks on the beach, but I’d be lying. Instead I’m probably tinkering with some personal coding projects, learning new things about Cyber Security or messing about with some electrical components that I picked up from AliExpress.