The Ex-Forces in Business Awards is the world’s largest celebration of ex-military in second careers – recognising the value veterans add to businesses as well as the employers that support the transition of servicemen and women.
Servicemen and women spend years adapting to roles and gaining valuable skills. They develop qualities that are hugely adaptable to commercial environments and in demand in the business world, but communicating the transferability of those skills to employers can be challenging. Increasing visibility of role models – military veterans who have carved out successful second careers – is crucial to not only empowering and inspiring current and future service leavers, but to educating employers on the value of supporting the transition of servicemen and women.
Taking place in both London and Glasgow, the Ex-Forces in Business Awards is the world’s flagship platform for providing that visibility by celebrating the achievements of veterans in the wider workforce and promoting the strong synergies between military values and business excellence. The awards highlight the military-gained skills and qualities that have helped enable their business achievements and recognises the organisations that have supported them.
These exciting, high-profile awards ceremonies not only gather business leaders and veterans to honour the winners, but also bring together top companies, key military personnel, politicians, journalists and other stakeholders to advance dialogue and share best practice around the benefits of ex-forces employment initiatives, and ultimately promote the significant value that military-gained skills can provide to the UK economy if better utilised across the workforce.
On 8 May 2019, the second annual British Ex-Forces in Business Awards took place at the London Hilton on Park Lane, bringing together 900 business and military leaders. Host of the awards, BBC news anchor and former RAF officer Susannah Streeter, welcomed a keynote address from Sir Charlie Mayfield, Chairman of John Lewis Partnership and a former army officer. On 3 December 2019, the inaugural Scottish Ex-Forces in Business Awards took place at the DoubleTree by Hilton Glasgow, gathering 500 leaders and stakeholders across government, defence and enterprise.
The Scottish awards were hosted by BBC presenter and Invictus Games gold medallist JJ Chalmers, who introduced keynote speaker Graeme Dey, Veterans Minister. Guests at the events enjoyed special entertainment that included a showcase from the Team BRIT racing team and performances from the likes of the Countess of Wessex’s String Orchestra, the Royal Scots Association Pipe Band and the Military Wives Choir. We are delighted to reveal that £60,000 was raised and donated to military charities through the awards initiative in 2019.
Due to COVID-19 restrictions prohibiting live events from taking place, the Awards Ceremonies for the 2020 Ex-Forces in Business Awards will take place on 19 May 2021 (UK Awards) and 1 July 2021 (Scottish Awards).
LONDON AWARDS HOST
JACQUI OATLEY MBE
Jacqui Oatley MBE is a leading sports broadcaster on Sky Sports, ITV and the BBC. Since becoming the first female commentator on Match of the Day in 2007, Jacqui has gone on to present and commentate on the biggest football tournaments worldwide, including World Cups, Euros and the Olympic Games. She is now presenter of the weekly Sunday Supplement football show on Sky Sports. Away from football, Jacqui presents ITV’s darts coverage as well as the sports news on BBC Radio 4’s Today programme. She has also reported on tennis, golf, rugby league, snooker and the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee parade for the BBC.
LONDON AWARDS HOST
FRANK GARDNER OBE
Frank Gardner OBE is a journalist and author, and currently the BBC’s Security Correspondent. Frank spent nine years as an investment banker in New York, London and Bahrain before switching to journalism and joining the BBC in 1995. He has reported extensively on the global ‘War on Terror’ in Guantanamo Bay, Yemen, Afghanistan, Iraq and elsewhere in the Middle East. In 2004, Frank survived being shot six times at close range by Al-Qaeda terrorists in a Riyadh suburb in Saudi Arabia. He went on to write the best-selling book Blood and Sand and was awarded an OBE in 2005 for services to journalism.
MAJOR HEATHER STANNING OBE
Double Olympic gold medallist
Army officer Heather Stanning was the first British female, along with her partner Helen Glover, to win an Olympic gold medal for rowing at the 2012 Olympic Games in London. After completing a tour of Helmand Province in Afghanistan, Heather rejoined Helen to become World and European champions and then retain their Olympic title with another gold at the 2016 Games in Rio de Janeiro. When Heather retired from international rowing in November 2016 to concentrate on her military career, she and Helen were ranked the top female rowers in the world. She continues to serve as a Major in the Royal Regiment of Artillery.
SCOTLAND AWARDS HOST
BBC presenter and Invictus Games gold medallist
JJ Chalmers is a former Royal Marine Commando who served on the frontline in Helmand Province, Afghanistan. He was wounded by an Improvised Explosive Device whilst on foot patrol in a blast that claimed the lives of two of his friends, and has since been through hundreds of hours of surgery and endured months of specialist rehabilitation. In the 2014 Invictus Games, JJ captained Team UK’s Trike Cycling team, which brought home eight medals, and he personally won a Gold and Bronze for Recumbent Cycling and a Bronze in the 4x100m track. He’s a firm fixture in BBC Sport’s live presenting team and part of the BBC ceremonial coverage team covering events such as Trooping The Colour and The Lord Mayor’s Show.
ADMIRAL SIR GEORGE ZAMBELLAS
First Sea Lord 2013-2016
Admiral Sir George Zambellas completed three years as First Sea Lord in 2016. George began his career as a helicopter pilot, before a series of sea commands, including the UK Amphibious Force, the UK Maritime Force, NATO 4* Maritime Command and the Fleet. An engineer by training, George now has successfully transitioned into numerous business interests in the new technology sectors. He is a Governor of Harrow School, a Director of the White Ensign Association, President of the Shipwrecked Mariners’ Society, an Elder Brother of Trinity House, a trustee of the VC and GC Association, and a Deputy Lieutenant of Dorset.
2019 SCOTLAND KEYNOTE
GRAEME DEY MSP
Minister for Parliamentary Business and Veterans
Graeme Dey attended Harlaw Academy in Aberdeen before embarking on a career in journalism, living in Dundee and Angus. He was elected to the Scottish Parliament for Angus South in 2011 and has been Convener of the Parliament’s Environment, Climate Change and Land Reform Committee, and Depute Convenor of the Rural Affairs, Climate Change and Environment Committee. Born and raised in Aberdeen, Graeme is married with two grown up children. In 2018, Graeme was appointed as the Minister for Parliamentary Business and Veterans in the Scottish Government.
“We are proud to be the official charity partner of The Ex-Forces in Business Awards. I congratulate all those nominated in the various categories, and especially those who collect an award; you should all be proud of what you have achieved or the support you are providing to veterans. The Awards are an excellent way to celebrate the linkages between the Armed Forces and businesses, large and small, and those who organise the process, culminating in superb evenings, have done a wonderful job. We are delighted that an amazing £49,527 was raised in 2019 to help SSAFA continue its support to the Armed Forces community; on behalf of our clients, thank you all for your generosity.”
Lieutenant General Sir Andrew Gregory, CEO, SSAFA – the Armed Forces charity
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