Team Phoenix Talks: Armed Forces Day

Steven Lamb, our Managed Service Manager talks to us about starting a new career after leaving the armed forces, transferrable skills, and how Phoenix continues to support him 11 years later.

Tell us about your career before Phoenix 

I joined the Royal Navy as a Weapons Engineer in 1988. I was 17 years old and straight out of school, and when I left in 2011, I’d completed 23 years’ service. In that time, I saw a huge amount of the world, but it wasn’t always fun. I was in the Gulf War, took part in Kosovo, Sierra Leone, Iraq, and Afghanistan. I was also called up to cover the firefighters strike in early 2000s and was responsible for the first aid response to an incident involving the UK’s nuclear deterrent. My last job before joining Phoenix was in Naval Intelligence, which was a real eye opener.

What was that experience like? 

I was very lucky in my time to visit lots of great places and be part of some great events, but there is a lot of training and exercises to get through before you get to the good stuff. I loved every minute of my time and was sad to leave. The culture, mess-deck life, and travel were very important to me, but you have to look to the future. I felt it would be easier to take my next career move younger, so I took the decision to leave a year after I had completed my initial 22-year contract.

What was it like finding a new career after leaving the armed forces?

I stayed very positive throughout the whole experience. It was very common for my shipmates to leave the Navy and accept a job on less money, topping up their income with their pension, but I was determined not to do that. The Navy paid me a wage that I deserved, so I believed that I shouldn’t be looking at anything less.

I won’t sugar-coat it though; it was difficult trying to translate everything that I had done into civilian language and trying to work out how Weapons Engineering fit into a civilian company. Thankfully, the Navy helped a lot. The resettlement package they provide is excellent and they put you in touch with careers advisors who help immensely.

What is your role now? And what transferrable skills prepared you for your job now?

I am Phoenix’s Software Asset Management (SAM) Managed Services Manager, managing a team of licensing specialists who provide software licensing services to companies that outsource this function to Phoenix.

It’s not a natural progression from Weapons Engineering to SAM, but I found that the roles actually have a lot more in common than I was expecting. Managing a team has a lot of similarities whatever industry you’re in. I previously managed teams to maintain and operate missile systems, guns and radars, and managing a team to provide a compliance baseline to a large customer is no different, it’s just different subjects. You still have to motivate the team, communicate your strategy, and deliver a product, whether that’s to a senior officer or a company CEO.

How does Phoenix support you?

Phoenix has been fantastic in supporting my transition to civilian life. The word I always use to describe the people at Phoenix is ‘family’, and it truly is like a big family. Everyone talks to each other, and every team gets on. Being completely new to the world of SAM, there was a lot to learn, but I was provided with all the necessary training and support.

I stumbled into Phoenix by accident and have been here for 11 years. There are a lot of people that have worked here for more than 20 years, and I think that says all you need to know about Phoenix. I work in a great office and good banter is important to me. It is an important part of service life too, and I’m sure it helped with a successful transition.

Discover how we’re encouraging change through our internal networks

What do you enjoy about your career in IT and what do you think it offers others?

I find my job hugely satisfying. Being able to show customers how a managed service saves them money and contributes to their overall business goals is extremely gratifying. In my role, I also get the opportunity to continue travelling both in the UK and abroad. There are so many different specialisations in IT and tech that it offers anyone a rewarding career within the industry.

Any advice for other seeking new career paths following the armed forces?

When you are about to leave service life, there are a lot of doubts. You might be wondering, “Am I good enough?”, “How will I fit in?”, “How is what I’m doing now going to help me in civvy street?”  Lots of my shipmates lasted a few months in their jobs when they left the service because they didn’t feel they fitted in, or they got restless in their new roles. But I didn’t have that experience.

Believe in yourself and the training and experiences you already have. The “can do” attitude towards life that is taught in the armed forces is a valuable commodity and shouldn’t be underestimated. Being organised, punctual, and disciplined are skills that you are taught every day in a service environment, and they are also hugely valuable in civilian roles too.


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Ben Murden
Ben Murden

Ben has over two decades in the IT industry, delivering both online and offline campaigns across all platforms to meet business goals and objectives. Joining Phoenix in 1999 as a graphic designer, Ben has evolved over the years into a fully-rounded marketing professional, before being promoted to Phoenix Marketing Manager early in 2018, reporting directly to the MD. With his background in creative design, Ben takes projects from inception to execution and can identify the correct strategy based on the subject, audience, and goals – while increasing the brand profile and revenue. His passion for digital marketing is evident in everything he does, and both vendors and strategic partners often comment on his incredibly positive attitude to ‘make things happen’.

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