Forces Employment Charity celebrates the success of Women into Employment 2024 for the whole Armed Forces Community!

This year’s Women into Employment (WIE24) event, the third of its kind run by the Forces Employment Charity, celebrated a packed agenda on Tuesday 26 March. Held at UBS with gold sponsor, Octopus Energy the event brought incredible speakers to the stage. WIE24 also welcomed employers actively seeking to recruit from within the military community, of which 154 delegates were present – family members included!  

WIE24 in a snapshot 

  • 154 delegates 
  • 33 superb speakers 
  • 23 Forces friendly employers 
  • 7 supporting career organisations 

Thank you to all who attended and who provided feedback. An amazing 64% of delegates who attended this year’s event said they would recommend to others! Just over 30% were veterans, 30% were currently serving, 23% were military spouses/partners and 10% reservists.

In terms of the breakdown of who was actively looking for employment, 43% said they were and 38% said they weren’t but the event had now given them the confidence to start looking.


Recent research carried out by the Forces Employment Charity* states that women are more likely to deselect themselves from roles they could be suitable for. Figures also show that 72% of female veterans said they had found their transition to ‘civvy street’ harder than expected. This is compared with 63% of men. 

When female partners and spouses of serving personnel were asked, 1 in 6 stated that the impact on their career was the hardest thing about being in the Forces community, with the top barrier to employment being frequent house moves (25%), closely followed by not having close networks nearby (22%). 

Highlights of the morning at WIE24

Chaired by BFBS Forces News reporter, Sian Grzeszczyk, WIE24 focused on helping women to recognise their worth and harness their full potential. Sian shared some inspirational quotes, connecting them to maximising on takeaways from the event, making each session and networking opportunity count. 

Two quotes which resonated with many at WIE24: 

  • “Shy ducks get no bread” (i.e. don’t ever be afraid to ask questions!) 
  • “No one can make you feel inferior without your consent” by Eleanor Roosevelt (use your carrier strike group! Know what and who you have around you for support and use them) 

Office for Veterans’ Affairs (OVA) Director, Anisha Worbs gave the official welcome address to WIE24 covering: 

  • overcoming the barriers women face when applying for jobs 
  • the OVA’s work with partners to get veterans into valuable, sustainable employment 
  • the need to shape support for women veterans based on their unique experiences 

Following the host welcome from UBS Investment Bank’s Executive Vice Chairman, Kevin Arnold, headline sponsor – Octopus Energy introduced Breffney Brass as the Chief of Staff at Octopus Energy Services at WIE24 to speak in the morning’s conference theatre. 

Octopus Energy is a Forces Friendly employer and signatory to the Armed Forces Covenant, so actively looks to employ and assist those in the military community.

Breffney offered great mentorship and practical advice to help folks from the military community — both women and men — make sense of their next career and chart a path to success in a new organisation: 

“Be nosy. Don’t sit on the sidelines. Don’t be content with not knowing what others do or how things work. Knowing all the jargon doesn’t matter nearly as much as showing up and being eager. Lastly, don’t let anyone talk you into having imposter syndrome. Everyone is making most of it up as they go.” 

First panellist sessions 

Channelling your superpower: Our first panellists came from The Warrior Programme (Rebecca Gallimore), YourNorth (Kelly Farr), BNY Mellon (Claudine Martin) and the Forces Employment Charity (Annette Berry). 

Industry spotlight panel: UBS (Jannine von Bergen), Centrica (Laura Blair), Octopus Electric Vehicles (Charlotte White) and Amazon (Cath Possamai). 

Our guest inspirational speaker at WIE24

We welcomed to WIE24, trainer and coach from the Elite Academy of Development and Wellbeing and the Warrior Programme, Michelle Chapman to provide this year’s inspirational address. It was titled ‘The Great Confidence Myth — how to squash self-doubt and learn to thrive’.   

Michelle provided a simple and very effective flip chart activity on centre stage, using A4 Post-It Notes provoking thought into how we build layers from childhood to now, and how we see ourselves, all relating to self-belief. To then remove those beliefs – to reflect that our identities have been removed (ie who are we if we aren’t x or y) see it instead as releasing/giving ourselves ‘space’ to just ‘be’. Michelle ended with a quote also… “You are under no obligation to be the same person you were five minutes ago.” By Alan Watts. 

Afternoon breakout sessions 

The afternoon’s four panellist sessions included: 

Careers in Sustainability/social impact 

Chaired by Sarah Stone of Samtaler, Rosie Buckley (Centrica), Emma Morgan (Amazon), Jade Chesney (Octopus Energy) and Thammy Evans (MOD) 

Careers in creative industries 

Chaired by Lucy Heaver from Forces Employment Charity, Sian Grzeszczyk (BFBS), Claudia Solano (Asda), Jennifer Jessey (The Telegraph) and Meredyth Grant (Charlie Charlie One) 

Careers in government and third sector 

Chaired by John Cunningham from Forces Employment Charity, Vivienne Buck (Blesma), Hannah Jarvis (Bryn Carw Consultancy), Jenna Clare (MOD) and Sian Woodland (Woody’s Lodge) 

Careers in self-employment 

Chaired by Martin Wing of X-Forces Enterprise, Charlotte Cox (Coxy Recruits), Amy Price (The Social Butterfly) and Keri Jones (Keri Jones Floral Design). 

Watch post-event videos:

Frequently Asked Questions at WIE24

Q: Leadership – How women had utilised their military experience in their lives beyond the Armed Forces and whether it was relevant and translatable 
A:  Yes, very translatable and how valuable the military models and frameworks are 

Q: Rank and levels and whether this was important in civilian life and if employers were biased towards certain backgrounds or levels 
A: Employers are more interested in what individuals have done and the skills developed than the rank or level 

Q: Where people are seeing growth and progression 
A: Tech and renewables/green energy/net zero 

Q: What kind of areas and jobs will stand the test of time? 
A: Human input, experience, ideas and relationships are key and will still be important, despite AI 

Q: Key skills employers admire in Armed Forces community?
A: Resilience and adaptability — attractive to an ever-changing environment 

General comment: 

Flexible working is important to many. Doing something that mattered for their children was important (veterans and military personnel as well as family members) 

Reflecting on WIE24 – what our delegates said 

“Such an inspiring day at the Women into Employment event by Forces Employment Charity today! 

“It’s been incredible to see so many come together to support serving women, veterans and family members, and advocate for their potential and the skills they offer. 

“It’s so easy to get stuck in a rhythm of putting ourselves in boxes, limiting ourselves to what we think we’re capable of but today will have encouraged many, if not all those attending to question that mindset.” 

“Key takeaway: “You do not have to be the person that you or others have ingrained in your head that you are.

“Inspiring talks and great panel discussions from industry spotlights and channelling your superpower! With some great questions: 

  • what are your superpowers?  
  • are they the same every day?  
  • do they always exist? 

“Lovely to meet and connect with new people and reconnect with others! I’m looking forward to the follow up calls already!”

 Veterans’ Network lead, Harriet James reflected on UBS hosting this year’s Women into Employment event: 

“UBS are very passionate about its D&I objectives and enacting them. Being able to host Women into Employment 2024 shows that we support the Armed Forces Community. At UBS we have the Veterans Network as well as the Ex-Forces Associate Programme (EFAP) — a very specific recruitment process for veterans to be able to align into roles that would fit within the bank. 

“I think today’s event is important as it broadens people’s imagination about the range of companies that offer schemes that they might not be aware of but also the range of opportunities available at each of those employers. There is HR, admin, and tech, so just making people realise that these companies have more than just what their main goal is.” 

Forces Employment Charity CEO, Alistair Halliday added: 

What a pleasure it was to hear about some incredible personal journeys and to see the impact those stories had on the audience. Many had started the event feeling uncertain on many topics but left feeling empowered, upbeat, and now confident — ready to take on the civilian employment market! The buzz created by many conversations through new connections, conversations, and reunions and even building new friendships, was fabulous.” 

The Forces Employment Charity 

We provide life-long, life-changing support, jobs and training opportunities to Service leavers, veterans, reservists and their spouses, partners and children. This is regardless of circumstances, rank, length of service, or reason for leaving. Register today to link up with a career consultant or join our mailing list to keep you updated on our latest news and events. 

Our programs are designed to support the whole military community. These initiatives are made possible by UK companies dedicated to helping veterans overcome the challenges of transitioning to civilian life. Contact us if you would like to have an informal chat on recruiting veterans – or the wider military community.


* Research undertaken by OnePoll on behalf of the Forces Employment Charity between 8th to 22nd November 2023.  


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