24 June 2020
Armed Forces Week is about pausing to recognise and celebrate the Armed Forces community and the work they do to protect the UK, both from at home and overseas.
As an MOD Gold Award holder, employing veterans and reservists is deeply embedded into our culture and DNA as an organisation, as is letting reservists fulfil their aspirations of continuing to serve in the military. Their skills developed in the military have countless times proven invaluable to projects on which we work closely with the military and UK Ministry of Defence.
In celebration of Reserves Day, we had a chat with Rob Somers, Associate Director within our project management team at WYG, about his 30 years of experience within the Army Reserves. He is currently based in Anguila, supporting the Foreign and Commonwealth Office's ambitious hurricane recovery programme.
What do you do in the Reserves?
My current assignment is as an Infrastructure Staff Officer within 170 (Infrastructure Support) Engineer Group, where I provide support to the war fighting HQ by providing assessment and advice on in the impact of civilian infrastructure on conducting operations within the urban environment. Prior to this I have been in various sub-units (teams) within 170 Engineer Group. This has given me the many great and unique opportunities, initially learning soldier and combat engineering skills, and then civilian engineering skills to undertake infrastructure tasks requiring concept and detailed designs and costing.
My annual 2-week training deployments have included infrastructure tasking in Hong Kong, Berlin, German, France, Italy, Gibraltar, UK, Ascension, Falklands. I have also been mobilised for service in the British Virgin Island and Afghanistan.
What led you to join the military?
It was the senses of purpose and service to the country that led me to join, and the opportunities for travel, personal development, keeping fit, adventure, training opportunities such as skiing, sailing, mountaineering and sub-aqua expeditions, and networking.
How do you balance work, life, and reserves commitments?
I have a very supportive wife who understands what it means to me to be in the Army Reserve. WYG is also a very progressive and supportive employer that values the attributes of the Reserves Forces and have developed an excellent Reserve Forces Policy allowing for 10-days additional leave foe Reserve Forces training.
The minimum commitment to be in a National Reserves unit such as 170 Engineer Group is 19 days per year to get your certificate of efficiency and bounty payment. But many people can do so much more service and I aim to do about 44 days per year, using up spare weekends and some of my leave time.
The Reserve Forces terms of service are very flexible and accommodating, and if you have more free time or are between jobs, you can volunteer for additional training, or operational deployments, or Full Time Reserve Service.
Before joining WYG, I had to spend a year with the 170 Engineers working on projects in the Falkland Islands and British Virgin Islands, which helped me get appointed to my current post with WYG as Senior Infrastructure Advisor to the Governors Office in Anguilla, which is convenient because our client – the FCO – want a person with experience in the Caribbean.
What advice would you give someone who wants to join the Reserves?
Just do it. Training at the Royal Military Academy Sandhurst and at the Royal School of Military Engineering combat engineering is an awesome experience you will never forget – particularly learning to set off demolition explosive charges in my case. You will be given many great and unique opportunities for adventure and service. And you will make life-long friends along the way and expand your professional network.