CATALYST Issue 1 - Page 40

Talent Centric decide how – much as senior teams in business aim to provide autonomy within a framework – he points out that, in the military, risk is optimised and leadership shared. “I’m intrigued in many commercial organisations that leadership tends to mean ‘the top people’; others are described as ‘managers’. In the RAF, we treat everyone as leaders. If I have a heart attack, I don’t want the most senior person to come to my assistance, I want the one who’s best qualified!” Another benefit of military life is career-long access to relevant training. “The armed forces are rigorous in their training and development of people and that rigour can make a tremendous contribution to commercial organisations,” Walker stresses. And as the former Air Officer Commanding the RAF Training Group, he is well-placed to know. “Training has a very high status in the armed forces,” he explains. “I’m not sure learning and development (L&D) has the same status in many commercial organisations because it’s seen as a diversion from ‘whatever people are meant to be doing’.” While he accepts that former servicemen and women will need bridging training to meet the needs of new positions in civilian organisations, he argues that this is the case for most people. “In my view, everybody needs training and I think there has been a disinvestment in the commercial sector in L&D; hygiene-type training is being done, but there has been disinvestment in leadership development. Organisations could add value with a more rigorous approach to understanding competencies, particularly as people move higher up organisations, or come in laterally.” The point he is keen to make clearly is that recruiting ex-military is not about fulfilling a duty of corporate responsibility but about recruiting valuable talent into the business. Far from trying to persuade employers to do a good deed, he is urging them to make a commercial decision. “Most servicemen and women bring 40 Signing up to the Armed Forces Covenant in 2016 was just an initial step “There are positive steps in most of the banks to recruit ex-servicemen actively, because they know how much value they can bring” with them high levels of transferable skills, and can make tremendous contributions to organisations,” he says. “Certainly, in financial services, which I’m well attuned to, there are positive steps in most of the banks to recruit ex-servicemen actively, because they know how much value they can bring. Immediately, people think risk and compliance are good areas, but they soon realise the breadth of skills people bring, and the diversity of personality.” Though perhaps not a typical veteran, Walker is, himself, proof of the variety of opportunities a military career can offer. “My RAF career was mostly in the realms of training, but I ran the Air Force’s capital works programme for three years and was director of corporate comms for three,” he says. “It was tremendously varied. But if there was a single thread running through it, other than training, it was working for The Queen.” Walker’s first appointment, from 1989-’92, was as Equerry to Her Majesty, which he describes as “a very personal appointment to The Queen where you look after people coming to the palace to see her. I went with her on engagements and assisted Her Majesty when she went into private residence at Sandringham or Balmoral,” he explains. “You meet an extraordinary spectrum of people.” Walker returned to palace in the mid- 1990s to assist with the transfer of funds