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MOD Empowered Women Blog – Ellie

Category: testimonial, Government, Jobs in Government, inspirational women, International Women’s Day, Staff Testimonial, UK Government, army, british army, ministry of defence, MOD, British Armed Forces, International Women’s Day 2022, Women in Defence

Gender Focus

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I never saw myself, or expected, to end up working in the Ministry of Defence, or with the British Army.

I graduated from the University of Southampton in 2019, with a degree in English Literature and also undertook a Year Abroad in Madrid during my studies to expand my language skills, immerse myself in a new culture, and meet new people from around the world. This certainly wasn’t the easiest year for me personally, at times it felt rather isolating living in a country where I could get easily lost in a conversation. However, the quality of life, the people I met, and the travelling opportunities certainly made up for it and there is no doubt in my mind that it was the best decision to challenge myself and experience this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.

During my final year of university, I applied and was successful in gaining a place on the Fast Stream – a Civil Service graduate scheme with a chance to make a real difference in the public sector. HR made sense to me, as it was all about supporting and getting the best out of people – it was a career that had a sense of purpose and positivity.

My first posting was in the Ministry of Justice, and I loved the variety and creativity involved in working in HR Policy. I gained a lot from this first placement and was sad to leave an exciting introduction to HR and the Civil Service. I was, therefore, slightly apprehensive when I was told that my next placement would be as an HR Business Partner supporting the British Army in the Ministry of Defence. I had not heard a lot about the department, but my assumptions were that it was male-dominated and had some complex issues.

As I was a more junior female working with colleagues who had significantly more experience than me, this certainly made me apprehensive at first. Similar to the language barrier I encountered in Madrid, the acronyms and language made me feel lost in certain meetings, but I knew from experience that this would improve with time (as it did in Madrid)! I also learnt to lean into my strengths; I could challenge the status quo, input creative solutions to complex problems, and use knowledge of technology to my advantage. Not only that, but I had a number of female role models to look up to in my immediate team as well as at more senior levels. I felt that this representation allowed me to feel seen at various levels of the organisation, and I could have honest and transparent conversations about my experience in both the MoD and the Army.

After nearly a year working with the Army, I feel more confident with the language and culture. Not only that, but for anyone else who joins the team – particularly if they’re female – I’m able to talk through my experiences and ensure they feel supported. My initial assumptions were also challenged – whilst a lot of the individuals I work with are indeed male, they are supportive, encouraging and respect my opinions. Working in the Ministry of Defence has been an enlightening experience and in my first year here I have felt empowered to make a positive difference in an organisation that really wants to grow and improve.

Ellie

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