WYG: Why veterans can add value to your workplace


WYG is an award-winning professional services firm operating from more than 50 locations across the UK, Europe, Africa and Asia. WYG were one of the employers who participated in the Ex-military in Management Careers Fair. SMJ Consulting Services chats to Alan Cliffe, a former Royal Engineers soldier, now Associate Director, about his role in the virtual careers fair and WYG’s wider commitment to employing veterans. 

WYG signed the Armed Forces Covenant in 2016 and an estimated 8-10% of their project management team is ex-military. Alan Cliffe, Associate Director of WYG was in the Royal Engineers for almost 40 years and is actively involved in a number of initiatives supporting ex-Service men and women.

One of WYG’s pledges within the Armed Forces Covenant is to support the employment of veterans and that is why they wanted to take part in SMJ Consulting Services and The Officers' Association's Ex-Military in Management Virtual Careers Fair. Mr Cliffe said one of the most beneficial aspects of the virtual careers fair was having the opportunity to help Service Leavers. He added: “I think taking part in an event like this is important, not just because we are an ex-Services employer but because we also offer further support to ex-military people - even though we may not necessarily employ them. They need that bit of wisdom from people who have either left the Services and are in employment, or HR people who are looking to employ ex-Service personnel. I think it helps just to give Service Leavers some top tips or guidance to help them find their way into employment - and the careers fair was a way of doing so."

“Service leavers add a new dimension to our already diverse business. Commonly, service leavers add particular value and strength in leadership, camaraderie and team work, and energy and drive.”

— Alan Cliffe

Mr Cliffe hosted a webinar during the virtual careers fair, which focused on who WYG were as an employer as well as how, as an ex-regular soldier, he has managed his career at WYG. Mr Cliffe is no stranger to webinars or giving advice to ex-military personnel and is actively in contact with the ex-military community through a personal mentoring service. He is both a Royal British Legion and Officers’ Association mentor. The British Legion mentoring scheme enables Service leavers to select a networking contact and build a partnership that will help them learn about job opportunities, understand employer’s expectations and receive feedback to assist the development of their commercial career choice.

“The advice I give is varied - from CV advice, advice on what additional training and education to take and it is also about managing their expectations too,” Mr Cliffe explains. “Through mentoring with The British Legion, I ended up providing two workplace attachments at WYG, one of the Service Leavers we actually ended up employing. With The Officers’ Association, I may be given a CV to look over or a contact to help. For example, most recently I engaged with a former Naval helicopter pilot who wanted to know about project management, so my advice was tailored around project management within WYG.” 

“Their natural leadership and decision making shines out every time. ”

— Alan Cliffe

WYG are proactive in engaging with the ex-military community and actively recruit Service Leavers through a number of avenues, such as work placements, mentoring and their presence at Service charity events. Mr Cliffe said: “We are heavily involved with many of the Officers’ Association events, as well as hosting insight days, briefs on CV’s and where there are industry days around the country we try and attend.” WYG are also an industry partner with 170 Engineer Group Royal Engineers and have sponsored technical seminars/dinners and regularly engage with them on Reservist Insight Days and military leadership weekends.

Mr Cliffe said ex-military personnel are suited to a number of roles throughout WYG in the defence, security, safety and construction sectors. He said the key transferable skill Service Leavers bring to WYG is leadership. “Their natural leadership and decision making shines out every time. As well as their softer skills such as being able to communicate at all levels and write reports are highly useful. Their ability to collate and assimilate lots of information is great.”

And what value do you think Service Leavers add to your business?

"Service leavers add a new dimension to our already diverse business. Commonly, service leavers add particular value and strength in leadership, camaraderie and team work, and energy and drive."