An ex-serviceman can offer a variety of skills and competencies to employers in the corporate world. In the last half a decade or so, many companies in India have opened their doors to hire ex-servicemen. These companies are mostly MNCs, especially from the financial services sector. Wells Fargo, Religare Health Insurance, Goldman Sachs and UBS already have programmes in place, that focus on hiring veterans. In addition, in the technology sector, Microsoft and Amazon have also shown interest in hiring people from a military background.
As mentioned, these days, the defence sector has a variety of talent that can be utilised in the corporate world. Apart from just the security-management function, this pool of talent brings a lot to the table.
The defence sector offers engineers who have thorough knowledge of building and creating telecom and communication networks. It has also developed technology and IT skills, for its cyber cell department. In addition, its army doctors have the option to work for hospitals and the healthcare industry. Microsoft and Amazon have been hiring people in technology roles as well. In fact, there is no area in today’s business world, where ex-serviceman cannot contribute.
“Anybody coming from the officer cadre fit into any type of management role in business, given the fact that the person also possesses domain knowledge”
Sriharsha Achar, group CHRO, Star Health Insurance
“Anybody coming from the officer cadre fit into any type of management role in business, given the fact that the person also possesses domain knowledge,” says Sriharsha Achar, group CHRO, Star Health Insurance.
The ability to handle ambiguity and align oneself to the vision and goals of the organisation, along with a deep sense of integrity and loyalty are qualities that one can expect in all defence personnel. Also most importantly, the sense of responsibility and accountability is quite high because in a battlefield, one mistake can cost many lives. And moreover, they also have the ability to work in remote and secluded areas with limited resources.
There are some roles in the corporate world, for which veterans make a natural fit.
Supply chain: Supply chain operations, procurement and logistic management is one such area where defence personnel can do wonders. In the army, for instance, it is the duty of the officers to procure supplies in terms of arms and ammunitions and also rations, for their respective regiments. Amazon hires defence people to handle transportation, as well as the customer fulfilment and facilities management departments.
Vigilance: In the insurance sector, the main purpose of the vigilance and claims team is to investigate the claim case and verify if there is any kind of fraud, and take necessary action. Wells Fargo and Religare Health Insurance have been hiring veterans for this work. In fact, Achar reveals that the vigilance team at Star Health Insurance is headed by a former IPS officer and comprises former defence staff and retired police officers. “In these roles, it is mainly their investigative skills that are in use,” tells Achar.
Human resources: Another area where veterans can add immense value is human resources, because they are trained in managing manpower in defence services. Also, people management and understanding the psyche of a person is one of the subjects taught in the army. Apart from this, they can be very strong at IR because they have the experience in dealing with people problems managing soldiers coming from lower strata.
Training and capability development : As per the traits that an ex servicemen has, they also have a great skill of observing where are some of the areas that an individual lacks in his/her profile or job and start the process of building capabilities in those areas for the future.
Sales and client relationships: Ex-servicemen can contribute best in the field of sales and client relationships, because of the high level of confidence they possess. “The skills to communicate effectively and carry oneself with confidence is something which comes naturally to any defence personnel. They have the experience to deal with senior professionals with confidence and maturity,” points out Yuvaraj Srivastava, group CHRO, MakeMyTrip, who himself has served in the army as a captain for almost five and a half years. In fact, this is the reason why Religare Health Insurance hires people from the defence in roles which involve dealing with senior banking professionals, who love interacting with mature people.
Leadership: Above all, veterans are highly recommended to fill leadership positions in a firm. Leadership skills come naturally to any officer working in the defence space. The various modules taught to defence personnel cover leadership as a subject. “The intensity of leadership qualities is very high in any ex- serviceman, and companies hire such people in anticipation of them taking on leadership positions,” shares Srivastava.
“In the Army, work and processes are structured with huge respect for authority however in Corporate it can be different, can be very competitive and navigating through this may become challenging for officers”
Yuvaraj Srivastava, group CHRO, MakeMyTrip
“Critical thinking and strategising abilities exist naturally in ex-servicemen,” adds Achar.
However, working in a defence setup and delivering in the corporate world are two different things. To facilitate the transition, the employers will require to play a supportive role. “A bit of handholding is required while one is hiring someone from a defence background,” opines Achar.
In fact now arm forces also offers bridging programmes tying up with renowned institutes like the IIMs where they are trained for a smooth transition to a corporate life.
Generally, it is easy for short commissioned officers with five to six years of experience in the defence, but for people who have spent 70 per cent of their lives in the armed forces, the transition may take a while.
“In the Army, work and processes are structured with huge respect for authority however in Corporate it can be different, can be very competitive and navigating through this may become challenging for officers,” shares Srivastava.
Many employers harbour a wrong notion that ex-servicemen are only suited to handle security- management roles. Such employers will have to broaden their horizon a bit and understand how they can utilise the wide range of skills that veterans bring to the table, and there sure are many of them.
“More often the attitude in corporates is that one should be ready for the job from day one. You need to have some patience as an employer and also on the part of the ex serviceman, they should also start thinking about what they have to offer to business and what skills they bring on the table”
Sandiep Batra, CHRO, Landmark Group
“More often the problem lies in the way all employers think. The general attitude is that one should be ready for the job from day one. One needs to have some patience as an employer and the same is expected on the part of the ex-servicemen. They should also start thinking about what they have to offer to business and what skills they bring to the table,” mentions Sandiep Batra, CHRO, Landmark Group, and an ex- commissioned officer in the Indian Army.
It is very much accepted that that there are several traits and skills which can surely complement certain areas in the corporate world, but we also will have to accept the fact that specialised domain knowledge is required. However, this is not that big an issue because such knowledge can be acquired very easily.