Balancing work, family and military commitments is a common challenge for Reservists. But Atkins graduate George Rawlins has not only managed to juggle these competing factors, but has also undertaken intensive training at Sandhurst to become a Second Lieutenant in the Royal Engineers, all while studying for his Foundation Degree in Mechanical Engineering.
I joined Atkins in late summer 2013 as part of its brand new apprentice pool. I’m an apprentice design engineer primarily working within the aerospace market, but currently working in electrical system mechanical design.
I have always been interested in joining the military as my father was in the Army for 31 years. Joining the Army Reserve was a way for me to continue that interest while maintaining further study and a career outside of that role.
In 2014 I completed the Army Officer Selection Boards. Since then I have undertaken basic training with my local Officer Training Corps (OTC) and then attended Sandhurst for a six week consolidated training course through the summer of 2015 before moving to my Army Reserve Unit, the Royal Monmouthshire Royal Engineers (Militia).
The course at Sandhurst takes you from knowing nothing to a qualified Reserve Officer in just eight weeks, but as I’d done some basic training through the year I was able to knock two weeks off the course length. I was incredibly grateful to Atkins for seeing the value in releasing me from work for six weeks to complete this training.
I love the leadership aspects of my Reservist role and the training that I receive; it’s above and beyond what I could expect to receive in the corporate world. The weight of responsibility placed on your shoulders as a Reservist can be both a burden and awesome as well.
Balancing work and military commitments is the greatest challenge I face as a Reservist. However, I’m able to easily transfer skills between these different roles which certainly helps. And Atkins’ approach to flexible working means I can still maintain my weekend commitments, making time management much easier.
I was aware of Atkins’ Reservist-friendly nature when I approached the company. I was always upfront about my Reservist commitment with my line manager, especially when it came to the challenge of balancing it alongside my university studies and my apprentice/graduate/junior engineer role.
As well as the ten days leave for annual Reservist training and the flexible working structure, I really love the supportive culture throughout the organisation. My colleagues and line management are genuinely interested in what I’m doing and I’m encouraged to apply what I’ve learnt with the Reserves throughout my work at Atkins.
I believe that Atkins gets a lot from my Reservist training, particularly my leadership skills, confidence and approach to challenges. The officer training I’ve undertaken provides a very carefully considered course in handling complex and imperfect problems, which has proved invaluable.
In January 2016 Atkins formally received its Gold Armed Forces Covenant Employer Recognition Scheme award. I was delighted to be chosen to attend the award event at Number 10, alongside Atkins’ UK and Europe CEO Nick Roberts. A notable highlight of the evening for me was the atmosphere generated by the success that Armed Forces support has provided back into the company, and it being a relationship upon which a company gains as much as it puts in.