Category: Testimonials, Social Mobility, Leadership, Employee Experience, ministry of defence, Defence Infrastructure Organisation, DIO, personal stories, Royal Navy
How far can you progress, without a degree?
I firmly believe all parents encourage and support children to reach their potential throughout their school journey. However, I do think levels of expectation differ; my parents were no different and were always on stand-by to help me. Further education and university have never been a trend within the family, the focus was always to find a secure job. I always found it difficult to focus when it came to revision, practical work was always my strength; leaving school with a single GCSE (Grade C) left me with very few options for further education.
Growing up my mother worked part-time at a supermarket and my father in a factory, both moving into the Civil Service as I approached the school leaver age. I was given the guidance and support to pursue a career within the Ministry of Defence, which I did in 1997. I was surrounded by ex-military colleagues and given their support and I decided to join the Royal Navy at the age of 20. With no educational entry requirements, it seemed to be the perfect opportunity to self-develop and to gain a sense of pride, being the first in the family to join the Armed Forces since WW2.
My Naval career opened my eyes up to Social Mobility as many of my new entry colleagues didn’t have the opportunities, guidance or support which I had received and, in many cases, joined to be fed 3 times a day and have a roof over their head. It was in the Navy I started to apply myself, under strong leadership and for over 17 years, I gained promotion on several occasions and rose through the ranks. I had served in Sierra Leone, Iraq, Counter-piracy operations and Counter-narcotics in the Caribbean. Having had a child, I felt it was time to hang the uniform up and go back to my roots (the MOD) at this point my father was still in the MOD and recommended I looked at DIO and found an opportunity with CIO. I was carrying out migrant operations at the point of application, but thankfully the recruitment lead held off interviewing until I returned. I came into DIO at a C2 grade and still without a degree or any other formal qualifications. In the space of 5 years, building strong working relationships and learning from senior leaders, I progressed to a substantive B2 (something I’m very proud of and owe to those who supported me).
I have also decided to give back by taking up a volunteer role within the Sea Cadets. This allows me to provide guidance and support to children who wouldn’t necessarily receive it at home or at school and support my volunteer colleagues with personal development. This also provides an opportunity to bond with my Son, getting us out of the house and onto the water.
My intention is to work towards a degree in leadership, not because I must, but because I want to. I hope this lived experience demonstrates that you don’t need a degree to progress; with the right attitude, leadership and support – anything is possible.
Reach your potential by finding the right support.
Author: Ant Carruthers
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