Name: Graham Thomson
Regiment: Intelligence Corps
Final rank: Lance Corporal
Time served: Almost 5 years
The military in one word: Teamwork
Graham’s varied career has taken him from Lance Corporal to Chief Information Security Officer at Irwin Mitchell. We sat down with him to talk about why he chose a career in the military and how he’s found the transition from the Intelligence Corps to IT.
What attracted you to the military?
“I’d always been interested in the army and navy; exposure to the forces is something I grew up with. I had been a Sea Cadet and spent a lot of time on Royal Fleet Auxiliary ships, mingling with military personnel from a very young age. Several of my family members had served including my great uncle who worked undercover with the French Resistance during WWII and managed to escape from a Prisoner of War camp twice.
“I was particularly interested in intelligence work and when I learned that it was now possible to join the Intelligence Corps directly, I applied after leaving university.”
What did you enjoy about military life?
“Many ex-military people will talk about the camaraderie, and I am no exception. There was a huge sense of purpose and teamwork, and I had the opportunity to work with all sorts of people from many of the armed services, as well as civilian law enforcement and intelligence agencies.
“The training and operational experience was second to none, it was immensely varied and the word challenging doesn’t explain the half of it. I still can’t believe the things I was involved in, and at such a young age too.”
What skills did you take from your career?
“It is a pretty exhaustive list. There is self-discipline, confidence, leadership and the ability to motivate others and working under pressure. Then there are the investigative and analytical skills and security and intelligence training that have served me so well in civilian life. Finally, there is the ability to think like the bad guys, which is crucial when you’re working in security.”
How did you find the move into civilian employment?
“It was a huge unknown, even just knowing what jobs to look for was a challenge and I continually questioned what skills I had. Corporate behaviours are very different from the military ones and I had to learn and adapt quickly.”
What strategies did you use to help you?
“I used the ‘Intelligence Corps Resettlement Cell’ when I was leaving to help seek guidance from those who had served with me previously. I went to their meetings, and later phoned up a few people from the list of volunteers who were really helpful in showing me around an office, giving me an insight into what work was like. By sheer chance I also bumped into the Director of Intelligence himself in Kosovo, who said he’d give me a reference, which was a massive help.”
What do you enjoy about your role now?
“The work is always challenging, there is never a quiet moment and I constantly have to learn and keep up with the industry trends to try and stay ahead of the curve. It feels like now I am in the virtual trenches, constantly being cyber attacked and having to ensure my defences are as strong as they can be to prevent the next wave of attacks. It is a never-ending battle, but it keeps me on my toes.”
Published: April 2019
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