Tag Archives: Armed Forces

Alastair Allison MSc, CISM, SIRM, Chief Risk Officer from Zurich Insurance Plc (UKGI) talks about his career in the military and skills that can transfer into risk


  • Former Chair of the Institute of Risk Management’s Cyber Special Interest Group
  • Project manager and co-author of the IRM publication Cyber risk for risk practitioners
  • Guest lecturer at University of Portsmouth on the IRM Risk Culture publication.

I left the Royal Air Force in 2002 after 16 years’ service in the fighter control specialisation – air defence of the UK specialising in electronic warfare. Despite struggling to find what I wanted to do, I got a job working for Amey Vectra as a risk consultant for a short while before taking a post as enterprise risk manager for Paradigm Secure Communications on the £3.2bn satellite communication programme for the UK Military; the SKYNET 5 project, which was a real success for me on a personal and professional level. I was at Paradigm for nearly 6 years and I joined a risk consulting division within a software company as head of Risk Services working with global companies such as Rolls Royce, Rio Tinto and Saudi Aramco. I was then asked to join Zurich Insurance to head up the Information Governance transformation programme. Since joining Zurich I have progressed to Head of Risk and most lately to the Chief Risk Officer for UK General Insurance

AA business.jpg

Transition to Civvy Life

I personally found the transition to be difficult as I did not have a plan but I was lucky to have some support from other ex RAF people who helped me find that all important first job. Since then I have taken matters into my own hands; I have gained an MSc in Corporate Risk and Security Management, gained other qualifications and experience within my chosen area of expertise and created opportunities as a result. I prefer to operate in specialist areas than general roles but the military background enabled me to succeed in both by blending my new skills with the leadership and management skills from the RAF. By seeking new challenges and stepping out of my comfort zone, I have shown I am adaptable and open-minded to change and I think this is a great asset to all employers.

The business landscape constantly shifts and the competition needs to be responded to. As a consequence, being open to change and dealing with it in a positive frame of mind has helped me to see through many moments of change that would faze others. Yes it has been unsettling but facing up to the uncertainty and dealing with ambiguity are key skills service personnel have and they have served me well.



Skills transferred from RAF days

Enterprise risk management: This is a key skill of most military staff even if it is called other things. Any leadership role will help develop such skills but the basic skills required to “know your enemy” and how you can develop tactics to counter the enemy is basic risk management. Broaden that across the organisation and you have the “Enterprise” element.

Risk management: Practitioner in project, programme and corporate risk management including the use of quantitative models to support effective decision making and distribution of funding.

Information governance: Establishing Information Governance frameworks and practices within a UK subsidiary of Zurich and providing expertise to Global initiatives. The basic security rules in the Joint Services Manual stood the test of time. Military staff understand classification and security of data so these skills transferred very easily. This is a key risk to be managed in most businesses these days

Programme/project risk: Quantitative analysis of capital projects and programmes to determine confidence of delivery to time and cost prior to contract signature and to ensure ongoing confidence in delivery schedules post-contract. I learnt the basic skills in the RAF and continued to develop them further.

Training: Training needs analysis. course design and delivery of awareness and staff training regimes to affect cultural change of behaviours to protecting customer data or in support of implementing risk management methodologies and tools. I think anyone in the military will recognise these skills.

Alastair talks about the value of being involved with the Institute of Risk Management:

“I have heavily invested in training within my team fully aligned to the IRM to complete both the Certificate in Risk Management and the Diploma.  We have changed the   requirements of the risk roles to strengthen risk professionalism and to provide credibility in the business based on best practices.  This has involved over 14 staff across the business taking these qualifications in the last 12 months and we have completed over 12 other short courses to specifically learn new skills and get fresh insight into current risk practices.  These have included Risk Reporting, Developing KPIs, Risk Workshop facilitation, Fundamentals of Risk Management and several others – staying competent is a key factor in this role”.


Over The Top – Somme Commemoration Part.4


Aldershot Town FC


Surrey Fire and Rescue VS Aldershot Town FC


Guildford City FC VS RLC


Army Ladies VS Maidenhead United LFC


The Lord-Lieutenant of Surrey, Mr Michael More-Molyneux holds the Somme Football


Kathryn, Mark, Alice and Andy Nevill-Hames

“Billie Nevill was our great grandfather’s brother, so our great uncle.  He served with the Surrey Regiment and was originally from Dorking.  We grew up hearing about the story of the Somme Footballs and to come here and see for ourselves what he did and the actions he took is fantastic.”

Over The Top – Somme Commemoration Part.3


Guildford & Waverley Revolution


Welsh Guards




Winners Royal Logistical Corps FA with their medals 


The Somme Football

The Somme Football is a unique object.  Usually held at the PWRR Museum in Dover Castle, the football was kicked “over the top” by Captain Billie Neville and members of 8th Battalion the East Surrey Regiment at the start of the Battle of the Somme on 1 July 2016

Over The Top – Somme Commemoration Part.2


Southampton and Portsmouth Army Reserves (SAPAR) 


Hampshire and Isle of Wight ACF


12 and 16 Regiment Royal Artillery (Thorney Island Station)


Army Training Centre Pirbright VS Guildford & Waverley Revolution 


Steve Owen-Hughes, Assistant Chief Fire Officer, Surrey Fire and Rescue

“We are very proud to be here and to take part in today’s tournament and to show our support.  As an organisation Surrey Fire and Rescue is a member of the Surrey Civilian Military Partnership Board and a lot of our men are either ex-servicemen or are currently serving in the Reserves.  Our crews attended the fire at Clandon Park where we helped to rescue the Colours of the Princess of Wales’s Royal Regiment.  We know too that more than 50 fire fighters in Surrey went to the First World War and none came back.  Some of those fell in the Battle of the Somme.”

Over The Top – Somme Commemoration Part.1

A unique football event “Over the Top” took place yesterday at Surrey Sports Park in Guildford to commemorate the centenary of the Battle of the Somme; twenty thousand British soldiers were killed on that first day.    Nineteen teams, military and civilian, male and female, adults and youth, took part in the football tournament and remembered the sacrifices made by local men from the south east of England.  Organised by the local Army Regiment (Princess of Wales’s Royal Regiment), the Army Benevolent Fund and SERFCA, in co-operation with Surrey University, the aim of the event, in addition to commemoration, was to raise money for regimental heritage and Army benevolence.

Each player was presented with a  commemorative medal to mark their participation in the special occasion with the winning team from the Royal Logistic Corps FA walking away with the top honour.

The event closed with a moving service of remembrance which was hosted by Colonel Patrick Crowley, CEO of SERFCA, and included readings by Her Majesty’s Lord-Lieutenant of Surrey, Mr Michael More-Molyneux, the Armed Forces’ Minister Penny Mordaunt MP and Dame Penelope Keith.


St. Peters School (Runners up) VS Royal Grammar School (Winners of the cadet and youth competition) 


Surrey ACF


Royal Military Academy Sandhurst


3PWRR (The Tigers) VS Guildford City FC


Sergeant Kelvin Lowes from B Company 3PWRR with First World War re-enactors Private Richard Boatfield and Private Robin Young from the East Surrey Regiment.




3PWRR Andover Freedom Parade

Residents of Andover in the Borough of Test Valley came out in force yesterday to enjoy a Freedom Parade by the three military regiments who have been granted the Freedom of the Borough; 22 Engineer Regiment representing the Corps of Royal Engineers, the 3rd Battalion of The Princess of Wales’s Royal Regiment and the Army Air Corps.

Service personnel from the three regiments, led by the Princess of Wales’s Royal Regimental Band marched through the town centre in a show of ceremony and colour with bayonets fixed.  The parade concluded with a flypast of an Apache Helicopter by the Army Air Corps and a memorial service to commemorate the centenary of the Battle of the Somme took place in the Garden of Remembrance.

The civic party was led by the Lord-Lieutenant of Hampshire, Nigel Atkinson Esquire and The Worshipful the Mayor of Test Valley, Councillor Karen Hamilton.


Colour Sergeant Billy Menzies, 34 is from Andover.  A Regular Army Soldier with the 2nd Battalion, Billy has been posted with the 3rd Battalion PWRR in a training capacity.  His role has been to provide training weekends focusing on developing their medical capability.  He said “Working with the Reserves has been absolutely amazing which, to be honest, was completely unexpected.  They are 100% professional as is their commitment because they have to juggle their careers and their families as well.” He added “I am really proud to march through my home town today and it’s nice to come back as I don’t get here very often.  Hopefully I’ll see some old friends in the crowds”.


Private Chris Jones, 22, has been a member of the Army Reserve for almost four years, serving with 3 PWRR based at HQ Company in Canterbury. Chris worked in Customer Care for the National Trust but after deploying on Operation TOSCA in Cyprus and on Operation TORAL in Afghanistan with 1st Battalion Royal Anglian, he has now decided to pursue a military career.  He said “I’m just back from an operational tour in Afghanistan and I’ve decided that I’m going to transfer full time to the Royal Navy in January next year.  I’d like to become either Aircrew or a diver.”


Corporal Russell Butler, 32, is an Army Reservist with A Company in Farnham and works for a logistics company.  He said “I’ve been a member of the Army Reserve for four and a half years.  I left the Regular Army in 2005 after serving more than six years with the 1st Battalion PWRR and toyed with getting back in.  Being a reservist is better than I thought and they are more experienced and more current than I thought they’d be.  There’s always something different to do whether it’s ceremonial, community based or green training”.  Russell is originally from Basingstoke and said “I feel quite proud to be on parade today especially as my wife and kids are here too”.


Banbury Armed Forces Day – 501 Sqn

By Sqn Ldr Andy Marshall – Officer Commanding 501 Sqn RAuxAF

20160626- AFD 16 TEAM SHOT.JPG

To celebrate Armed Forces Day 2016,  501 Sqn accepted an invitation and participated in the Banbury Town event which took place on 25 Jun. We saw it as an opportunity to show off the Sqn and the Reserves to the local community and so in the early Saturday morning a convoy of vehicles left Brize Norton and traveled up to Banbury to set up our recruiting tent and vehicle display.

In addition to 501 Sqn and the local Air Training Corps Sqns, it was hoped that the Royal Air Force contingent would be backed up by a Chinook from Odiham, but alas, aircraft availability, leaving Man SV Trucks as the military hardware on display. The weather played a part in the reduced turnout of the public, but those who did come to the event saw a range of displays from the Navy, Army and Air Force cadet forces, which culminated in Trooping the Colour by 142 Royal Logistics Corps, a Banbury based Reserve unit, supported by the Band of the Royal Artillery. This part of the event was to be supported by a Spitfire flypast, but the adverse weather conditions intervened and the flypast had to be cancelled.

Overall, during the day, Sqn personnel ran a recruiting stand for all of the Sqns based at Brize (and beyond) and dealt with several enquiries from people interested in service with the Royal Air Force Reserves. The SV truck proved very popular with the visitors to the show, many who got the chance to sit behind the wheel for a photo opportunity.

20160626- AFD 16 SET UP 2.jpg



254 Medical Regt – Exercise Executive Medical Stretch – Crowborough – Part.2

07778 334771

Dr Anne Harwood: Dr – Foundation Year 2, East Kent Hospital University Foundation Trust 

“My favourite activity was the command tasks as we all had a chance to lead and by the end of the 6 tasks I was beginning to understand the dynamics of the group and how we could work around the strengths and weakness of those in the team.   I enjoyed the assault course too and was glad that it was not competitive as I was painfully aware of how unfit I was. It has given me a good incentive to try and improve my fitness levels. I am going to download the Get Fit for the Army app onto my phone and make a start when my schedule allows (I’m just about to start a run of 7 nights and this may not be the best time to start!!!).  I think from the experience as a whole I realised that actually my leadership skills were better than I had thought as I don’t see myself as a natural leader.

I am also actively thinking and researching more about being a reserve as I enjoyed the weekend and feel that it is something that I could get involved with in the future.

07778 334771

Dr Ratna Kothari: Trainee GP

“It was a very enjoyable experience that did help me consolidate on the attributes that can help make a good leader.   A highlight for me was listening to Anna Cross who survived Ebola, the assault course, and also being able to take part in a planning exercise.”

07778 334771

Charlene Neale: GP Practice Manager

Charlene was a member of of the Yellow Team who won the Best Team Overall prize.  She said “We had a fab team and I think that we did well because we all were willing to listen to each other and took on board other points of view.  Also we had a fantastic instructor and I think Kate was pivotal in getting us to work together so much.”  Although Charlene hated it at the time she confessed “I think the Assault Course was my favourite activity of the weekend.  Closely followed by the planning exercise.”  She added “The main thing I learnt about myself is that if I really want something I can succeed”.

Ex Med Stretch_041.jpg

Professor Amir Nasir: Consultant Surgeon, Maidstone and Tunbridge Wells NHS Trust

“I was exposed to new ideas, modern technology in trauma & warfare surgery and also the ethos of Medical practice in army in war situation.  The course was excellent in all aspects, especially the assault course and the physical exercises.  I enjoyed the rifle shooting despite missing the target 9 times out of 10!”

For more information go to http://www.serfca.org/Reserves/Army-Reserve/Army-Medical-Services/220-Medical-Squadron

254 Medical Regt – Exercise Executive Medical Stretch – Crowborough

07778 334771

Carly Bray – Primary Care Liaison Officer, Kent Institute of Medicine and Surgery 

“It was a great weekend.  Personally I have taken away a clearer understanding of what type of leader I could be in the future and also identified some areas where I would need to improve to become a leader and the best thing was that it was done in a way that was fun but also challenging mentally and physically.  Thank you to everyone that was involved in organising it and running it on the day, I think it was a great success and have been passing on the message to those that unfortunately couldn’t make it this year to try and get them to come along next year.”

07778 334771

Claire Casarotto – IDT Operational Lead, East Kent Hospital University Foundation Trust 

Claire found taking part in the weekend hugely beneficial.  She said “The tasks highlighted my own behaviours, when working a team – what frustrated me, what I felt was helpful and how this enabled me to adapt my approach as the command tasks continued. This will be incredibly useful back here at work, as having the opportunity to apply any leadership skills in an unfamiliar environment really helps to clarify preferential behaviours.”   She added “The planning exercise for me was an excellent opportunity to utilise analytical skills, logic and the negotiation under time pressure. I really enjoyed the morning and have thought about that and how a similar task could be used as a learning opportunity in our own teams back here at work.  “Claire is afraid of heights and found the obstacle course a huge personal challenge but revelled in her achievement.  The greatest surprise to her was in the shooting competition. She said “Winning the Best Shot trophy was completely unexpected – I’ve never held a gun in my life, so to score 80/100 points was a bit of a shock for everyone I think!”

07778 334771

Neil Delbridge – Clinical Nurse Specialist, Kent Community 

Neil found the weekend very worthwhile.   He said “I have a newfound respect for the military personnel, the roles they undertake, the fitness required to perform their duties, the way they plan, organise, serve, sacrifice and conduct themselves.”  He added “I found all the elements very useful in my development as a leader. The command tasks were practically helpful and the round robin element made me reflect on the way I currently lead a team.  Conversations with various officers were a very helpful resource in identifying how the Army prepares its leaders to be leaders, in contrast to the NHS, where clinicians are promoted to lead, often without any training to prepare them.”

For more information please go to http://www.serfca.org/Reserves/Army-Reserve/Army-Medical-Services/220-Medical-Squadron


7 Rifles – Malawi Blog

18th to 20th May 2016 – the story so far











Training has now commenced in earnest and we quickly saw how motivated and happy to be here the Malawian troops were.  Being selected for the course is seen as an honour within the MDF and there were more than 2 applicants for every place offered, even getting a space on the course was an achievement.  From the most junior Rifleman to the most senior officer, the MDF see recce as a vital skill the army needs.

The first full day of training involved getting the basics right and our 7 Rifles demo troop were well employed showing the MDF how things should be done.  The heat in the day is a significant challenge when carrying kit and it will be a few days until we acclimatise but the lads are doing well and enjoying working with the Malawians’.  To the MDF this is winter time and we are all amazed when they arrive wearing gloves even though we are sweltering!

Capture    Capture1








Day two of the course moved into a blank firing phase where drills were put into practice.  The MDF use a mixture of weapons but on this course they are carrying the FN FAL 7.62mm rifles (similar to the old British SLR) and General Purpose Machine Guns (GPMGs).  Whilst the MDF troops have been trained in British tactics the 3 Rifles instructor have a limited amount of time to achieve a lot in the next few days before the final exercise.

We have also learned a bit about our shared regimental history. In 1902, all British military forces in East and Central Africa were consolidated and renamed the King’s African Rifles and served with distinction in both the first and second world wars.  After independence in 1964, the King’s African Rifles became the First Battalion of Malawi Rifles of the Malawian Army.  To this day the Malawi Rifles wear a cap badge with the same bugle that we wear in the Rifles.