From the military to construction...
I am Paul Bedford, Senior Logistics Manager for EKFB. I joined in September 2018 after nearly ten years in the British Army and am now responsible for delivering route wide logistics that will see benefits for the HS2 Project and for the local communities. Through innovation, the logistics strategy will introduce new ways of delivering construction logistics that will see change across the wider industry for the future.
After studying Logistics and Transport Management at Loughborough University I spent several years working with companies across the UK building upon what I had learnt during my studies. Gaining experience from working for global companies such as Atkins and Pepsico, I reached a point where I desired for something more. After eight years in industry I decided it was time for a change and shortly afterwards followed in my father and grandfather’s footsteps and joined the military.
Attending the Royal Military Academy Sandhurst in 2010, I completed the 44-week Command and Leadership course and commissioned into the Royal Logistics Corps (RLC). My first two years were spent focussed on a deployment to Afghanistan where I would be a Troop Commander responsible for planning and delivering logistic support across Helmand Province. This logistic support focussed on moving essential supplies such as fuel, ammunition and equipment from Camp BASTION (and other locations) to where they were needed across the region, knowing that failure could result in significant consequences if units did not receive what they needed to operate. Conducting what was known as Combat Logistic Patrols, I would support, and many times command, long convoys across the desert coordinating multiple assets that comprised of engineers, air support and, medics to ensure the logistics support got to where it was needed.
After my time in Afghanistan I focussed on UK Operations, providing support to activities that included natural disaster relief, fuel and ambulance strikes and responses to domestic terrorist activities. I also spent some time delivering training, working with NATO to develop their skills in military logistics, and in the UK teaching new British Officers who had finished their Command and Leadership course at the Royal Military Academy Sandhurst how to deliver military logistics.
In 2017, after completing the objectives I set myself when I the military I decided it was time to regain stability back into my life. Wanting a better work/life balance I decided it was the right time for me to begin my journey to leave the military.
Making the decision to leave the military was very much a leap of faith as I was required to provide 12 months’ notice. I spent a lot of time during my transition from the military to better understand where my skills would be best suited and it was clear that the training, experience and skills had learned could be applied seamlessly into many other industries.
There were lots of opportunities in logistics-based organisations but after a conversation with a former military boss he recommended getting in touch with BuildForce, the construction industry’s job brokerage service for ex-military personnel. A BuildForce Mentor himself, he explained that there were a lot of parallels between the military and construction and that my skills could be well suited. After reaching out to BuildForce, I was given support developing my CV and provided introductions to their associated organisations during which I was invited to visit EKFB and was lucky enough to be offered a role.
I had taken time to understand the construction industry so when EKFB invited me to work for them it made me realise just how important it is that your new employer is right for you just as much as it is you being right for them. Staying strong and understanding my worth was key to ensuring that I ended up in the right role for me, and in a business where I felt welcome and at home in.
No two days at EKFB are the same. From managing teams that are split across multiple locations, through to providing reactive and planned support to the project, the role of logistics is very much ensuring the project doesn’t stop. I could be in a meeting one minute, discussing a multi-million pound contract setup and the planning schedule to ensure the correct capability is on the ground when required, and the next minute I could be providing reassurance to the local communities, explaining what we’re doing to help reduce road risk.
The EKFB logistics team are using lessons learned from military expertise to deliver efficiencies to the HS2 project and to help bring in a new chapter of managing logistics in construction. It’s a fantastic opportunity to change the face of construction logistics in the project, and we are innovating and developing best practices that can be used for the future; the VMBS and Roll On Roll Off Delivery Systems are two examples of this.
The construction industry offers a diverse range of roles. Whether it is working on the ‘coal face’ constructing or in a role that provides a support function such as procurement or environmental oversight, construction has far more opportunities than many people believe it has.
I would unreservedly recommend a career with EKFB to others. There are fantastic opportunities available and today I continue to support other ex-military personnel who want to break into construction, much of which is completed through BuildForce.