“The generous pension and public sector job security are better than you’ll find from most other employers, and career progression and opportunities are well laid out, with personal development built into the system.”
Why did you choose to pursue a career in Commercial in DE&S?
I served in the RAF for 14 years in the 1980s and 90s. When I left the armed forces, I started my civilian career in IT services, working for Somerfield and Rolls-Royce, and moved on to selling marine electronics and equipment. A few years ago, a friend told me that there were vacancies within the Civil Service, including at Abbey Wood. Based on my experience and qualifications I applied for roles in Finance, Project Management and Commercial and had interviews for all three. I was surprised to be offered all of them! I decided on the role in Commercial as I had spent years in Project and Finance-related roles and, at the age of 55, I fancied a change. I must give credit to DE&S for being inclusive in their recruitment process, regardless of age and disability.
What does your role as a Commercial Officer entail?
Commercial delivery involves managing and running the procurement process from inception to disposal. Depending on the team, you may run an entire small procurement, or work on parts of the process. I’ve been involved in projects where unusual requests have come through for specialist requirements and have also worked in teams where our job was to ensure we have servicing and spares capability for equipment. Much of my current role in Commercial involves liaising with the business to ensure that we are not only procuring kit in a legal and transparent way (where applicable) but are able to prove that fact. Ultimately all these roles are aimed at ensuring our customers on the front-line – our service men and women – have the right kit in the right place at the right time. Their lives depend on our getting it right.
What are the opportunities to develop and progress within Commercial?
Commercial is the only function in DE&S that is legally able to sign procurement and support contracts. In order to do this, you must have attained a Level 4 Chartered Institute of Procurement and Supply (CIPS) qualification and obtained a Commercial Licence, therefore all Commercial Officers are fully supported by DE&S to undertake CIPS training.
There is a formally laid-out Commercial career path that can guide an individual through the levels. You are also assigned a Primary Delivery Manager and Functional Development Officer who can support you in developing your career and finding opportunities for progression. The Commercial function is made up of lots of different teams, so there are plenty of routes for career growth.
What do you most enjoy about your Commercial job?
The variety of work that comes across my desk is stimulating. Although I know what my core role entails and there is a certain drumbeat of regular tasks, new tasks also pop up. It can range from ensuring we are getting income due from technical innovation one day, to developing a socio-economic map of our supply chains the next. My team is friendly, knowledgeable, and helpful – a great bunch of colleagues. The fact that I’m still working towards the same goal that I started over four decades ago, of serving my country within UK Defence, is an incredibly satisfying bonus.
Secondly, I would say it’s the people and team that I work with. I have never met anyone in DE&S, regardless of rank or seniority, who hasn’t been welcoming and generous with their time and advice, which has made for a great culture to work in.
Why would you recommend DE&S to others as a great place to work?
DE&S is an inclusive organisation that strives to get the best from every individual, while working towards a common goal. The work is varied and enjoyable, working conditions are excellent and flexible working is accepted as the norm in most cases. The generous pension and public sector job security are better than you’ll find from most other employers, and career progression and opportunities are well laid out, with personal development built into the system.
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