Get to know: Kate Mai

The Forces Employment Charity supports military personnel and their families with their employability. Regardless of circumstance, rank, length of service, or reason for leaving the military. Our services extend to Service leavers, veterans, reservists, military spouses/partners, and their dependants. Our team consists of a mixture of staff with civilian and military backgrounds – we’re here to listen!

Join us as we continue our monthly interviews across our departments. Today, we have Kate Mai, our National Employment Projects Manager. This includes the overview of the Families and Military Women Programmes.

Read on to learn about Kate’s role, motivations, and advice to the military community.

Can you tell us about your role at the Forces Employment Charity?

I joined the Forces Employment Charity in 2018. I oversee (Special) Employment Projects, which support families, military women, and vulnerable veterans. The Families Programme provides nationwide support to spouses/partners and the dependants of serving and veteran personnel (aged 16-24).

I lead remote teams of expert advisors who deliver bespoke coaching, mentoring, training, and career guidance to our clients. Advisors also connect individuals with our pool of over 9,000 employer partners. We offer events, webinars, and courses to members of the military community to enhance their employability.

What did you do before joining the Forces Employment Charity?

I worked for the Career Transition Partnership (CTP). I was the Resettlement Centre Manager at HMS Nelson Naval Base in Portsmouth. In my earlier career, I worked for IBM and British Airways in recruitment and resourcing.

Where in the world have you lived because of your parent’s deployment?

My dad was a Royal Navy (RN) Mine Clearance Diver, so we spent about six years on-and-off living in Rosyth, Scotland. Many of our friends were posted with their families to more snazzy destinations such as Naples and North Carolina. We finally had our overseas opportunity when I was a teen, and my dad was posted to Gibraltar, which I loved!

Have you learned any unique skills or hobbies from living in different places?

I have certainly done a bunch of things which I may not have had the opportunity to do if not for my family’s military background! Some of my favourite experiences include sailing school, horse riding at HMS Dryad, jet skiing in the River Forth, sky diving over Salisbury Plain, and gliding from HMS Dedalus.

How has your experience as a Service child influenced your approach to supporting military families through the Families Programme?

My grandads both served in the military, one in the Royal Navy and the other in the Army. My dad was a RN Mine Clearance Diver and bomb disposal expert. He also served on HMS Fearless during the Falklands War. My sister served as RN nurse and was deployed to Sierra Leone to help tackle the Ebola crisis; she also married into the RAF. Military life has been a theme for generations of our family, something we are proud of and is ‘our normal’.

Like many Service children, I was nomadic; I went to a string of schools. This was both stressful and exciting. When I was nine years old, I went away to boarding school for some stability. I made many international friends. At times, the lifestyle stunted my social skills and confidence. On the flip side, from an early age, I flew as an unaccompanied minor to visit my parents during the school holidays which made me feel very grown up and worldly. Service life broadened my horizons, granted me new experiences, and gave me independence and resilience.

In some sense, I can relate to the strapline ‘I was made in the Royal Navy’, as I believe my upbringing as part of a military family shaped who I am today. My experience drives my passion to support military families and the whole Armed Forces community.

What are some of the main challenges military families face when seeking employment?

Military families experience a wide range of challenges, each unique to individual circumstances. Common challenges include frequent moves, social isolation, and an erosion of confidence. This can have a massive impact on their employment journey. Furthermore, employer reluctance, disrupted education, and the affordability of childcare are predominant issues.

The Families Programme supports civilian spouses/partners and their children, while the Military Women programme focuses on career support for female veterans. We provide tailored one-to-one support informed by the needs of individuals who register with us.

Mentorship plays a vital role in career development. How does the Families Programme incorporate mentoring and guidance for Service children and young people?

The MyForcesEmployment online platform, connects our community (aged 18 and over), with an industry professional. Mentors provide insider knowledge on their sector and help mentees refine and achieve their goals. The initiative has had a proven positive impact on the confidence levels of mentees, which has resulted in accelerated progression. The online community has a pool of resources including chat groups, events, and guides. Our corporate mentors are volunteers who share their time, personal experiences, and network. They work across all sectors including technology, finance, energy, education, engineering, healthcare, and more.

What advice would you give to military women seeking employment opportunities or facing career transitions?

Be bold. Research indicates women are more likely to undervalue their skills and experience. They are also more prone to experiencing self-imposed psychological barriers.

Our advisors have experienced service life first-hand. Our Military Women programme supports female veterans in overcoming employment barriers. We are here to empower you and will coach you at every stage of your employment journey.

What resources and guidance are available to young people? How does this differ from the support provided to adult spouses and partners?

Our team are from military families themselves; they get it. We are here to listen and support you with any barriers to employment you may be facing. Our advisors are your champions. They can help you understand your skills, experience, and ambitions. Then, turn these learnings into actionable steps.

Education and Skills Liaison, Kelly Wales, works with educators and wider networks to ensure the right resources and support are in place for military families and young adults. Mentorship can widen aspirations, improve confidence, and help you to build your personal brand. Our advisors and mentors can help you access training, apprenticeships, and practical jobseeker guidance.

Each person’s individual needs shape the support they receive from our dedicated advisors. The Forces Employment Charity offers life-long, life-changing support to all military personnel their spouses/partners and their children.


Find out more about our Military Women Programme and our Families Programme!

Want to hear about our programmes, partnerships, events and ways that we could support you?