Neil Millar is a 25-year-old BAE Systems engineer working at the Maritime Services facility at Dalgety Bay.
For the past three years he has been a key member of the team carrying out installation work in Rosyth on HMS Queen Elizabeth, the lead ship of the Queen Elizabeth class of aircraft carriers, the largest warships ever built for the Royal Navy. Neil is also a Lance Corporal with 106 Battalion of the Royal Electrical and Mechanical Engineers (REME) in Grangemouth.
We caught up with Neil to find out about his careers, both civilian and military. We also spoke to Neil’s boss Scott Mitchell to find out how Neil’s reservist career impacts on BAE Systems.
Neil, tell us about your career as a reservist, when and where did it all start, what’s your current role, and what made you want to join up?
“I joined in 2011 at the Scottish Transport Regiment’s Light Aid Detachment (LAD) in Dunfermline as an armourer. I worked out of their LAD for three years and gained my Class Three qualification in this time. In 2014 all LADs were shut and we formed as 106 Battalion (REME) where I worked out of Redford Barracks in Edinburgh. During this time I completed my Class Two, various other courses, was promoted to Lance Corporal and also received a General Officer Commanding commendation. 106 Battalion has since been merged with 102 Battalion and I currently work out of Grangemouth.”
What’s the best part of being a reservist?
“There are many good points to being a reservist and probably too many to list. I enjoy the challenges and different situations being a reservist puts you in. You can go from fixing a weapon system in a workshop to operating out in the field on an exercise in the same day.”
Where has your REME career taken you?
“I have taken part in many exercises and events in the UK and supported exercises in Croatia, Cyprus and Germany. I have also done Adventurous Training (AT) courses in the UK, Germany and Austria.”
Do you have a favorite moment?
“I have many. From a career view my favorite moment was deploying to Croatia with 7 SCOTS as their armourer support. This was the culmination of the last five years of my career ending with me being able to go out and support an infantry battalion by myself. Another one of my favorite moments was coming First Place Reservist at the REME skiing championships in Austria. This is particularly memorable as I had never skied before I joined the Army and doubt I ever would have had it not been for the reserves.”
Tell us about your civilian job.
“In my civilian job I am a mechanical engineer with BAE Systems where I work on military contracts.”
Being a reservist requires time off work, how does your employer support those demands?
“My employer is very supportive and gives me two weeks’ special paid leave a year to go on annual camp, meaning I don’t need to use my personal holidays.”
What skills have you gained as a reservist that enhance your civilian role?
“The biggest skill I have gained from the reserves is how to work as part of a team and also how to manage a team, which has definitely helped with my career progression.”
What would you tell a colleague who was interested in becoming a reservist?
“I would highly recommend it. I couldn’t think of another place where you get such a varied scope of work and there are so many opportunities not just military based but sport and adventure as well.”
Scott Mitchell is the Principal Engineer with BAE Systems Maritime Services and is Neil’s boss.
How do you as an employer benefit from employing reservists?
“I benefit from Neil’s self-drive and his ability to work with minimal supervision, attributes he has clearly gained from his time as a reservist. He conducts himself in a professional manner and leads by example.”
In what practical ways do you support your reservists?
“BAE Systems was one of the first organisations in the UK to sign up to the Armed Forces Covenant and has a Gold Employer Recognition Scheme award. We also have a policy defining how we support our reservists, particularly ensuring we allow them two weeks’ paid leave to take part in reservist activity in addition to their annual leave entitlement. We support and sponsor armed forces charities throughout the year, but especially during Armed Forces Week.”
What qualities do reservists bring to the workplace?
“Neil is self-motivated, confident, has the ability to lead others and always demonstrates a positive can-do attitude. He is professional in his approach to colleagues and customers and is excellent at problem solving.”
What would you tell a fellow employer if they asked if it was worthwhile employing reservists?
“I would highly recommend that fellow employers consider recruiting reservists as they would be employing a well-rounded confident individual who would add value to their business. They are committed and can be trusted to do what they say they will do.”