Renewing our commitment to supporting the armed forces community
By Helen Lamprell, General Counsel & External Affairs Director, Vodafone UK
Today, we at Vodafone are proud to renew our commitment to supporting the servicemen and women who protect our nation by re-signing the Armed Forces Covenant. Businesses that are signatories to the Covenant pledge to honour those who serve or have served in the military and their families in several ways. For example, we champion the employment of service personnel, and help to re-integrate veterans back into civilian life through paths into employment designed for Service Leavers.
Vodafone first signed the Armed Forces Covenant in 2015. Our commitments included:
- pledging to implement flexible working conditions for members of staff who are reservists, to enable them to continue their training and be deployed on exercise when needed by the Ministry of Defence (MoD)
- creating a talent network via a dedicated HM Forces recruitment portal, to encourage the recruitment of ex-service personnel and Reservists in tandem with Career Transition Partnership (CTP). The MoD’s official provider of Armed Forces Resettlement, CTP also provides a free recruitment service for employers wishing to hire ex-military personnel
- enabling armed forces families who are posted overseas to suspend their UK mobile contracts for two years, with separate arrangements for those who will be deployed for more than two years.
In 2016, Vodafone partnered with the Wounded Veterans Fund to recruit three veterans who worked with us as part of a six-month transition to work programme. These veterans served across Iraq, Afghanistan and the Falkland Islands between them. They supported the Armed Forces community within Vodafone by raising awareness and by helping wounded veterans get back into employment. All three are now in full time employment, including one with Vodafone; we were delighted when he won medals at the Invictus Games.
This year, we will be holding a re-signing ceremony attended by Lieutenant General Nicholas Pope, CBE, currently Deputy Chief of the General Staff. As part of the re-signing, Vodafone will commit to actions such as:
- offering work placements facilitated by our current Armed Forces employee community
- encouraging the expansion and development of our Armed Forces Employee Network for service leaver alumni, reservists, employees with family members in the Armed Forces and those interested in taking an active role in supporting the Covenant pledges
- actively seeking to champion the benefits of employing ex and current military personnel via our Careers website, case studies, and communications within Vodafone.
Today, as we celebrate our nation’s veterans and reservists, I’d like to share some of their stories below and thank them for their service. Penny, John and Nicholas are all members of our armed forces community at Vodafone. For more employee voices, take a look at our blog, Life@Vodafone, and check out our Careers page for recruitment opportunities.
Voices of the armed forces community at Vodafone
Meet Penny, RF Engineer
What do you do at Vodafone on a daily basis?
I work on Special Designs within the London Planning and Optimisation team. I basically work on the design element for in-building mobile coverage and capacity solutions for Enterprise customers as well as places where we’re expecting large crowds, including special events.
What inspired you to join the Army?
Growing up my two favourite subjects were I.T. and P.E., and once I finished school, joining the military to become an Engineer in the Royal Corps of Signal seemed the perfect way to combine both.
How does that training apply to the current work you do for Vodafone?
Obviously the working environment within the military and Vodafone is very different. However, I think the values and skills instilled within the army – such as diligence, loyalty and a drive to achieve and maintain high standards – is very applicable to the role and team I currently work in at Vodafone.
Some of your big projects include installing mobile equipment in beautiful historic buildings. What is that like?
It’s great, one of the key aspects of my job that I love is the diversity of projects and locations I work on. From scurrying through tunnels in search of cable routes one week, to assessing internal coverage options at a London landmark the next…there’s always something new going on.
What’s the most fulfilling part of your job?
Measuring the benefit of a solution once it’s brought live, and seeing the impact on the customer experience. Also, aside from my day to day job, I am part of the Vodafone Foundation’s Instant Network team. Last year I got to visit Kakuma refugee camp in Kenya to deploy an instant school solution, which provides the camp schools with internet connectivity and a rugged ‘classroom in a box’. This consists of tailored educational content that is delivered via tablets. As part of this deployment, we trained the teachers on the kit and got to see first-hand the massive benefit it offers the children, both educationally and socially.
What are some of the on-the-job challenges that you encounter?
Balancing technical requirements on site with the aesthetic aspirations of the customer is sometimes an interesting challenge.
What advice do you have for veterans who might be interested in a career at Vodafone?
There are many career options at Vodafone within the Telecoms sphere. From a transition point of view some of the key Engineers from the early days of Vodafone were ex-service personnel and I think that’s a theme that’s still true today, as I often bump into people I served with in the military, who are now working at Vodafone.
What advice do you have for young women aspiring to be engineers?
My advice would be to go for it and not be put off by the conception that Telecoms is a male dominated environment. This is changing, with more and more women in Engineering every year, compared to 20 years ago when I first started.
What are you looking forward to this year, any projects you would like to be working on in future?
Obviously 5G is the next big thing, so I’m looking forward to seeing how that looks from a special projects point of view. Also London underground coverage is a hot topic currently, and I think that would be an exciting project to work on.
I’ve been working at Vodafone for almost three years, first coming to work for the business in February 2015. My current responsibilities include new build site roll out within the South Region and Technical Lead for the South Region Deployment. I manage a small team, two of whom are also ex-Armed Forces, and have been doing this role since July 2017.
After leaving the Royal Marines in 2007, I looked carefully at a multitude of industries and professions. Eventually, after careful consideration, I took the leap and moved into the Telecoms industry with no Telecoms experience. Using my resettlement package from the Military to pay for climbing courses, I took to Telecoms like a duck to water and quickly grasped the basics. My career focuses on site deployment and infrastructure roll out.
I started at the bottom rung of the ladder as a second man on a Rigging team, working my way up to team leader across three disciplines within a very quick space of time. Working globally, I moved to office based work in 2012, first as Wireless Supervisor for a large UK based infrastructure company, then moving to a new start-up company as a senior manager. In this role, I helped to develop a telecommunications infrastructure company which was growing from an original 10 employees to 75 within an 18-month period. I believe my unique onsite technical background and my Military experience have served me well, as I can understand and solve problems quicker with my team.
I believe coming from an Armed Forces background is a huge advantage when working within an organisation such as Vodafone, and I apply the Commando values I learned within the Royal Marines on a daily basis: Excellence. Strive to do better – I want Vodafone to be the best. Integrity. Being honest is a hugely important character trait in any business. Self-Discipline. Resist the easy option; working for Vodafone as a brand comes with great responsibility, we must ensure that the end user gets the best experience possible. Humility. Respect the rights, diversity and contribution of others, all of my team have a voice.
Telecoms, and specifically deployment, is fast moving with clear set targets that myself and my team need to hit – it is not a “normal and boring” office job, nor is it for the faint hearted. An important part of my job is being responsible for motivating and driving the team to meet targets and objectives, which is incredibly rewarding. My average day varies from meetings with vendors and suppliers, to one-to-one meetings with my team or internal customers, to briefings on new business technologies and strategy.
Working at Vodafone can be complex, but with the experience that everyone brings into the company and the facilities we have at our UK HQ in Newbury, there is a great working environment that gets the best out everyone. All rolled up it is not just another job, Vodafone is an inspiring place to work and if you have ambition, drive, initiative and passion then Vodafone is for you.
My journey with Vodafone started in June 2015 after I had made the decision to leave the Royal Air Force (RAF). A short service of six years, which saw me represent the RAF swimming team around Europe and the USA, along with active duties in Jordan and Afghanistan.
My role in the RAF was to provide logistical support to the UK’s Chinook fleet of helicopters, so naturally my first role in Vodafone took a similar logistical theme. However, this time I was looking at arranging fibre to be delivered to a large enterprise customer with over 1,600 national branches. At the time I knew very little about fibre so the first task was to learn as much as possible. Fortunately, Vodafone provided all the relevant training and support to ensure that I could be successful.
Alongside my new role I was completing a degree in Leadership and Management, and I was able to take advantage of the extensive academic resources available on the Vodafone University. All of which helped pave the way to a quick promotion to the role of Delivery Specialist. I took on more responsibilities such as training new starters on how to deliver fibre, conducting quality checks and working with the project teams to drive delivery in adherence of processes.
During this time, I also took an opportunity to represent Vodafone at a Skiing Challenge in Klosters, Switzerland. This event was hosted by the charity “Supporting Wounded Veterans” where I was part of a four-man team from Vodafone competing against teams both corporate and medically discharged veterans. The aim was to ski over 100 km in a single day along with completing a slalom challenge. In the build up to the event we received incredible support from the whole of Vodafone, and as a team we raised over £10,000 for the charity in a six-month period.
Career-wise, I was in the process of transitioning over to mobile networks, where I took on the role of delivering fibre to Vodafone’s mobile cell sites in the South West of the country, rather than an enterprise customers estate. I was working across a geographical area spanning all the way from the West coast of Wales down to Cornwall, Devon and up to the home counties. The majority of time I was managing various stakeholders, from landlords to external fibre suppliers, engineers and local councils, to providing status updates to senior management on critical coverage sites.
Recently I have been promoted to the role of Networks Manager Transmission Delivery and I have a small team both in the UK and an external team based in India. My role has evolved from looking after fibre delivery to managing a team to deliver both fibre and microwave solutions. Recently I have been mentoring an apprentice in the team to develop and support them in their role, while fulfilling their academic studies for their apprenticeship.
Every day has its own unique challenges, challenges that are all worthwhile when you hear the great feedback from our customers about the Vodafone network.