26 June 2019
We’re celebrating Armed Forces Week. As part of that, we’re highlighting some of the individuals at WYG who have pledged their service to the British Armed Forces. In this edition, we talk to Seb Navarro, Senior Project Manager, who’s currently serving in the Royal Artillery.
At WYG, he has supported the Army Basing programme over the last two years to manage the delivery of Service Family Accommodation homes to sites within the Salisbury Plain Training Area.
What do you do in the Reserves?
I’ve been serving with the Royal Artillery as a Reservist for the last six months. I served most of my time with the Parachute Engineers on a full-time contract as a Lieutenant. Within my Reserves unit, I’m a Troop Commander, which means I’m a commissioned officer managing over 30 people.
In the Royal Engineers, I was involved in a lot of work related to demolitions, construction tasks, and bomb disposal, I served alongside the Parachute Regiment and other foreign Airborne formations, and deployed to places like Kenya, Cyprus, Canada, and Denmark.
What led you to join the military?
I want to serve my country to the best of my abilities. In the military, we operate on a much larger scale than ourselves. The military has plenty of facilities and personnel to coach you in a very wide set of skills, with a large variety of roles and civilian equivalent jobs to undertake.
The military challenges you to form new skills - teamwork, courage in the face of adversity, leadership, physical fitness – and lets you work in different challenging environments. There are other perks, including sporting and adventurous training opportunities such as parachuting in California or climbing in Peru. It’s given me an avenue to grow significantly as a person.
How do you balance work, life, and reserves commitments?
WYG supports me very well in this area, particularly with the two extra weeks of leave. It makes a world of difference in allowing me to pursue military career advancement and training and allows me to spend more time with my family on holiday.
That’s important because each Reservist normally seeks a career course, a trade course, and ultimately deploying on their annual exercise. Each of these is usually two weeks long, but the standard amount of leave is normally only five weeks, so if you want to progress through the military, you have to sacrifice one of those and potentially slow your development.
I also have the benefit of working under Jeff Davis (Associate Director) and James Simonds (a former Lieutenant Colonel in the Royal Engineers), who is the project director on the Salisbury Plain Training Area Service Family Accommodation project. Both have been very supportive of me when I’ve needed the time off. If there’s ever been a schedule conflict, the team has always worked with me to manage it.
Is there synergy between your work at WYG and your role as a Reservist?
There is some overlap because in my role as a Senior Project Manager, I have a management responsibility over a team that requires organisation, planning and preparation. In a similar vein, my role as an officer in the Reserves means I also have to prepare and manage the 30+ soldiers I’ve got under my command.
What’s it been like supporting the Salisbury Plain Training Area project?
It’s a monumental project, so the amount of attention it receives is naturally high. Delivering eight houses a week on both Ludgershall and Bulford sites, demands more of a team compared to civilian developments, which might turn over houses at a slightly slower rate.
It’s been a fantastic project to work on. The fact that you get to collaborate with such a large team of diversely skilled experts to overcome the logistical challenges and action solutions is very rewarding, especially when you’re seeing the project go from a barren, mud expanse to military families moving into the completed houses.
What advice would you give someone who wants to join the Reserves?
The more you put in, the more you get out. If you’re willing to take ownership for your Reservist career and you have a plan for what you want to do, there will always be someone to support you.
There’s a role for everyone. If you’re in IT, you might want to join the Royal Signals; if you want to work in intelligence and data collection, join the Intelligence Corps; if you want to become a chef or drive vehicles, there’s the Royal Logistics Corps; or maybe you just want to join the infantry and develop your leadership in a high pressure environment with like-minded people. There’s usually a civilian career equivalent. There’s a lot of flexibility in terms of how you serve your country.