Series Thirteen, Episode One : Special Episode: Veterans – Leadership, Mindset and Tenacity

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To kick off 2022 and Series 13, we celebrate the contribution of veterans. Host Julia Streets is joined by George Griffin, Customer Success Manager at Salesforce and Vice President of Vetforce, Michelle Osborne, Executive Director, Head of Emerging Talent and Military Veterans Affairs, JP Morgan Chase and David Wiseman, Grants & Programmes Director at the Invictus Games Foundation, Head of Programmes at the Royal Foundation and Co-Founder of Peak State: Mental Fitness. They discuss some of the common misconceptions around hiring veteran talent and from the wider military community and reflect on leadership attributes and the transferable skills which make valuable contributions to financial services organisations. Together they look at the importance of intersectionality, recruitment best practice, building networks and the value of the Armed Forces Covenant.

Michelle Osborne

Michelle is currently the Head of Emerging Talent and Military Veteran’s Affairs for the EMEA region, she is responsible for setting the strategy and overseeing the delivery of all of the activity that seeks to provide opportunities for veteran’s and the wider defence community within JPMorgan Chase. Michelle also oversees all of the pre-university apprenticeship and outreach programmes offered to school leavers in the UK. Michelle joined JPMorgan Chase in March 2018 direct from a 23 year career in the Royal Air Force where she reached the rank of Group Captain. She studied for a Masters of Defence with Kings College London and served the last 5 years of her career in the Ministry of Defence undertaking various roles in International Policy and Defence People Strategy.

David Wiseman

David Wiseman served as an Infantry Officer in the British Army with operational tours of both Iraq and Afghanistan, during which he was wounded in action; shot in the chest during a firefight in Helmand Province. This injury ended David’s career in the military but opened a new chapter in which he has dedicated his professional and much of his personal life to supporting other veterans.

George Griffin

George Griffin is a Customer Success Manager at Salesforce, the world’s number one Customer Relationship Management platform, and Vice President of Vetforce, Salesforce’s employee resource group for the military community. Since leaving the British Army in 2004, George has worked in a variety of industries including corporate events, HR consulting, Learning & Development, security and IT. George joined the Salesforce Customer Success Group in 2016 and focuses on helping customers get maximum value from their Salesforce investment. As Vetforce UK President, George led the team to the signing of the Armed Forces Covenant before taking a leadership role in the Vetforce Global Team in 2018. Vetforce has 3000+ members (veterans, reservists, military spouses and allies) across the world and champions the military community within Salesforce through educational events, volunteering and philanthropy.

Series Thirteen, Episode One Transcript

Julia: Hello. My name is Julia Streets and welcome to DiverCity podcasts, talking about equity, inclusion, and diversity in financial services. On the podcast we seek to shine a light on positive progress, call out areas requiring further focus and offer lots of ideas to help drive change. Before we get started today, I just want to take a moment to thank our friends at CityAM for their continued support of DiverCity Podcast. They have a dedicated page on their website publishing and promoting both our episodes and our supporting blog series, so their readers can stay on top of the very latest diversity and inclusion debate. Now, you may want to check out the CityAM’s own podcast called The City View for all the latest news and opinion from the city, because we at DiverCity Podcasts are huge fans.

Let’s get straight into this episode because I’ve been so looking forward to this discussion all about the role of veterans in corporate life. Today I’m joined by three guests, George Griffin, Michelle Osborne, and David Wiseman. Let me just introduce them to you. Firstly, George Griffin. George Griffin is a Customer Success Manager at Salesforce, the customer relationship management platform, and he’s also Vice President of VetForce, Salesforce’s employee resource group for the military community. As the VetForce UK president, George led the team to the signing of the Armed Forces Covenant before taking a leadership role in the VetForce global team in 2018. And to provide some context, VetForce has more than 3000 members. Think veterans, reservists, military spouses and allies, right the way across the world, and it champions the military community within Salesforce, through educational events, volunteering and philanthropy. Since leaving the British Army in 2004, George has worked in a wide variety of industries, including corporate events, HR consulting, learning development, security and IT, and we’re delighted he’s with us today. George, it’s great to have you on the show.

George: Hi, Julia. Delighted to be here.

Julia: Joining George, I’m delighted to welcome Michelle Osborne. Now, Michelle is the Executive Director and Head of Emerging Talent and military veterans affairs at JP Morgan Chase. She is responsible for setting the strategy and overseeing the delivery of all the activity that seeks to provide opportunities for veterans and the wider defense community within JP Morgan Chase. She also oversees all of the pre-university apprenticeship and outreach programmes offered to school leavers across the UK. She joined JP Morgan Chase in March 2018, direct from a 23-year career in the Royal Air Force, where she reached the rank of Group Captain. She’s also responsible for running the bank’s athletes transition programme and is bringing in 11 high performance athletes. And if that’s not enough, she also sits on the European Diversity Equity and Inclusion Team. So you can see why she’s the perfect guest for this show. Michelle, great to have you join us today. Thank you so much for being with us.

Michelle: Thanks for the invitation, Julia. Absolute pleasure to be here.

Julia: I can’t wait to get in this discussion. Not least because it’s a challenge for me, because we’ve got three guests. Let me introduce you to our third guest, David Wiseman. David was commissioned for the Royal Military Academy Sandhurst as an infantry officer and had the honour of commanding troops in both Iraq and Afghanistan. David was wounded in combat in 2009, receiving a gunshot wound to the chest that ended his career at the rank of Captain, and as part of his recovery, David engaged with the charity Walking With the Wounded and participated in mountaineering endeavours across the Alps and the Himalayas that culminated in an attempt to climb Mount Everest in 2012. Now, since leaving the army, David has dedicated his professional life, supporting the armed forces community through roles such as Head of Programmes at the Royal Foundation and Director of Grants and Programmes at the Invictus Games Foundation. And he was an executive member of the organising committee for the inaugural Invictus Games in 2014. In 2017, he became the co-founder of Casevac, think casualty evacuation, Casevac for those wounded in service in Iraq and Afghanistan. When we talk about high performing athletes, I should also mention that as a competitor, David won 14 medals across three Invictus Games and was selected as the UK team captain in 2016.

And it doesn’t end there. In 2020 David co-founded Peak State Mental Fitness, an organisation seeking to build a community that truly understands the importance of mental fitness and that feels empowered to attain it. So David, it’s wonderful you could join us today. Welcome to the show.

David: It’s a real pleasure. Thank you for inviting me, Julia.

Julia: For me having such three esteemed guests from corporate life and also the work you’ve been doing with veterans and also thinking about Casevac and climbing mountains, I mean, I can’t wait to get into it. But let me just ask you, just to bring it right into sharp relief. So tell me, what do you focus on right now? George, I’m coming to you first of all.

George:  Well, I think after listening to Michelle and David’s introductions, I probably need to reevaluate some of my life choices. Really remarkable stuff. I’ve actually just changed roles within Salesforce. I’ve joined our public sector team, so I’m spending some time reacquainting myself with that sector, getting to know some of my new customers and so on. From a veterans and VetForce perspective, it’s really time for us to be looking at our plans for next year. What are we going to do? What are we going to focus on? There’s a number of very specific things that we need to sort out. We’ve got a fantastic series of webinars that started during the first lockdown where we get military speakers to come on and talk about moments of adversity, resilience and growth. In fact, David’s been a guest on a couple of those webinars, so we need to get those in the diary as soon as possible. Lot’s going on at the moment.

Julia: It’s great hearing you talk about the two strands of your life. I mean, and it’s no mean feat to be moving into a whole new industry sector, but then also to be planning your programme for the year as well for VetForce. Wonderful. That’s great. Michelle, can I come to you next? What’s particularly front of mind as you look at 2022?

Michelle: Well, this is always a fantastic time of year for us in JP Morgan because we’re preparing to welcome our programme members at the end of January. We have 70, 7-0, programme members joining both the military transition and the athletes programme. Lots and lots of work going on to make sure that they get a really fantastic week of orientation and acclimation into the firm. But we’re also taking some time to think a little bit more strategically about what are the big ticket items that we really want to drive home in 2022. As you alluded to in your very kind introduction, I’ve got many hats and we need to think really carefully about how we create fantastic opportunities for really great talent pools that are sometimes not always front of mind. How do we create those opportunities for veterans or athletes or socially mobile school pupils? A lot of work is going on with that, but it’s a fantastic time of year because it’s a culmination of all of our recruiting efforts and we are very much looking forward to welcoming our programme members.

Julia: Wonderful. A busy year ahead for you for sure. And in very close order, judging by the intake that you are just about to welcome, which is fantastic. David, can I ask you the same thing? In that enormous mix that I set out there, what are you particularly focused on right now?

David: If I can have a sentence on maybe three of those different work strands, with regards to Invictus Games Foundation, really exciting. We’ve got the games coming up in the Hague in May 2022. Obviously this has been postponed twice due to the global pandemic. So we’re very, very excited to welcome the world to the Hague in May. Beyond that, really what I’ve been personally working on in that work strand is trying to expand people’s perceptions of what there is to do with regards to engaging with the Invictus Games Foundation. It is more than the games. It is beyond the games. That’s really been my mission over the past year or so and offering up more opportunities for wounded engine six service to person and veterans, we call them Wiz, from around the world to engage with different sports and adventure challenge activities.

Across at Peak State, and that’s been terribly, terribly exciting for me personally. It’s a startup, so it’s exciting. We’re still very much in startup phase, but as you alluded to in the introduction, really what we’re trying to do is change people’s mindsets about mental health from one, which is purely focused on depression, anxiety and trauma, really, really important topics. I think with the society around the world has really progressed on those topics and understanding and awareness and acceptance. But really what we’re trying to do is crank the dial a little bit more, move it more to an idea of health promotion. We are using the phrase mental fitness, and it’s really all about taking a proactive approach to your mental fitness to reach your peak state. Thinking about creativity, thinking about focus, thinking about balance, all these different areas in order that everyone can get the edge with unashamedly stolen elements of sports psychology, because we think it’s unfair that athletes and top executive coaches have this mindset. Everybody, no matter what they should be doing, should really be approaching their peak state.

Finally, at the Casevac club, that’s just ticking along nicely. As you said, this is a club with a terrible, terrible eligibility criteria. You have to have been wounded in combat in Iraq or Afghanistan, so it’s a fairly tough eligibility criteria. But we’re continuing our work with the Scar Free Foundation and the Centre for Conflict Wound research in Birmingham to support their research and their understanding and the advancement of medical science in order that the members of the club can benefit from the new treatments that come out of those advancements, but also wider society can learn from us as they poke and prod us as Guinea pigs.

Julia: It’s extraordinary sitting and listening to you, and then to end your phrase with poke and prod as a Guinea pig. I mean, just an incredible contribution. And also, I can’t help, but think from the many, many conversations we have, which is it just all feels so of its time, where people’s corporate attitudes to diversity, equity, inclusion, and therefore talent reaching into talent pools, but also the appreciation of individualism and their own personal journeys. Plus also the contribution that diverse pools of talent and the mental health all comes together to create high performing teams. Let’s get straight into the discussion. Let’s focus straight into veterans in the workplace. So Michelle, I’d love to come to you first of all, if I may. Let’s start with some of the misperceptions. Let’s bust a few myths.

Michelle: It’s a very interesting question because I personally reflect on this being a veteran myself, having transitioned into financial services. I think the thing that I come up against the most is this feeling that veterans are in some way, a homogenous group, that they’re all from the same background, they all look the same, sound the same. And there’s an element in financial services that you do have a lot of young men from the army who join, but there’s also a lot of other people representing the veterans group, so they don’t all necessarily fit a mold or from the same background.

When we look at our veteran community in JP Morgan, they’re highly intersectional and we’ve got members of the LGBTQ community, we’ve got working families, we’ve got disabled veterans, we’ve got Black veterans, Asian veterans, female veterans. It’s celebrating that intersectionality and actually showing the strength of the veteran and what they can offer a group through their different backgrounds and experiences. A lot of the work that we’re doing is also to try and ensure that it’s not just an officer sport. So that veterans from other ranks and senior NCOs are also getting these great platforms and opportunities to access the industry. There’s some of the misconceptions that I’ve come up across during the past few years.

Julia: Wonderful. David, can I bring you in here, because how do you find some of these misperceptions sort of commonly reveal themselves in your working life?

David: Over the years I’ve touched on different areas, including in transition from service to civilian life. To build on what Michelle was saying, there are some common misconceptions. And certainly from my work with WIZ and wounded, injured, sick veterans, there’s a common misperception that if you are a veteran you are in some way damaged. And if you have been to war, then you’ve got mental health problems. Or if you have been injured, then you are an amputee. These sorts of images, because obviously they’re the images which are reinforced in the media because they’re obviously at the most extreme end of the spectrum and therefore, they sell more newspapers and they’re more interesting. So they’re the things that come to fall. Those are some things that I think need to be broken down or eroded. Obviously they are key issues, but I don’t think that they are as big as people imagine.

Some things which I think are truisms though, and things that veterans could do better and certainly from my own experience, my own personal experience, I’m certainly bad at these too. One is on language and use of acronyms and things that we’ve carried over or phrases, for the three of us on the panel today, probably it’s common parlance. But I can see people sort of looking at me a bit funny or scratching their head on a Zoom call when I’ll use a phrase or use an acronym in an email and they just won’t get it. That’s something that we need to be aware of and do better.

The other thing is understanding people’s roles in a large organisation. We tend to, this sounds pretty bad, but pigeonhole people based on their role. So if I was to say someone is SO2G3 at 16 Brigade, all three of us go, all right, I know what sort of person that is. They’re a crunchy go-getter. They’re ops-focused and they’re in a very crunchy role and a crunchy brigade. We like to go “they’re that kind of person”. Whereas I think that in the civilian workplace, it’s much more fluid, much more dynamic, and I think that’s a thing that we can do better, is just to understand that people are more than that pigeonhole role.

Julia: George, can I just ask you, when you’re working with Salesforce and with VetForce, what are the misunderstandings that you see the community being frustrated by and therefore are very keen to correct as well?

George:  Yes, I don’t think this is specific to Salesforce necessarily, but more broadly. Absolutely agree with what Michelle was saying there about this idea that it’s just a homogenous community. Ironically, there’s a paradox there because part of what we’re trying to say to perhaps parts of the civilian world that are less educated about veterans is when you employ a veteran, you are likely to get these sorts of skills, but of course, everyone is very, very different. So there are a few things which you’re probably going to get with a veteran or military spouse, I should say, but it’s important that people remember that everyone has a different experience. Everyone has different skills.

I think some of the things that come out as these common misconceptions that need to be addressed, why has he touched on this idea of the media portraying the very extreme end of the spectrum? I think Hollywood doesn’t do much to help us in that regard. There are so many tropes that get peddled through Hollywood war films. Let me give you an example. All people that leave the military are one dimensional in their leadership style. All they want to do is shout at people. They can only follow orders. Haven’t got any emotional intelligence. Those sort of things. I mean, it’s funny really. I mean, I can see Michelle and David, a grin appearing across their face and a lot of these things can be brushed off. But when it comes to a veteran or a military spouse going into interview with an organisation, if the person that’s doing the interviewing is basing all of their or making all of their assumptions based on what they read in the media or what they see in Hollywood films, that can actually be very damaging to someone who’s trying to find their first role from the military.

I suspect that we’ve all had instances where we’ve been interviewed where really, really quite peculiar questions have been asked of us. A typical one that you hear very often is, I’d like to say that this has changed over the years, but this idea that, well, how are you going to be a good leader in our organisation because your leadership style is, you can just shout at people and if they don’t do as you tell them to do, then they get in trouble or they get jailed like people would expect them to in the military. Real nonsense, and I can absolutely assure you that the lads in my platoon, and it was exclusively lads when I was serving as an infantry officer, would not have followed me just because I shouted at them. Quite the opposite, I would say.

Julia: Can I just pick up on this point about leadership? Because what I’d love to do is move the conversation on one cog shift, if you like, which is about the transferable skills. Because you say it’s clearly not a homogenous community. Having bust some of the myths around the common parlance, understanding of the intersectionality of the community as well. But actually let’s pick up on this whole point about leadership skills. I wonder if I could ask you and George, I’m going to stay with you here if I may. If you could offer one kind of common valuable skill, which organisations should be very mindful of, but also perhaps one that’s less obvious when it comes to looking at transferable skills and leadership skills.

George:  I think the more obvious one would be resilience. You’re dealing with a community which has been through adversity. I remember my colour Sergeant when I was in training at Sandhurst saying to me very early on, “Keep that word perspective in your head.” Very often things that may feel like a big problem to the wider community in a civilian commercial context, may not feel exactly like that to someone who’s been through the sort of things that David’s been through that you referred to in the introduction. Resilience is really important, we talk a lot about it in business these days, and veterans and military spouses absolutely will come with heaps of resilience.

I think the less obvious one, and this is a bit of a double edged sword, is humility. Certainly my experience is that bragging is not something that went down well in a military context, and there’s a tendency for people to underplay their skills and capabilities. I think that can be a very beneficial trait when you get out into the civilian world, but it can also disadvantage you as well if you overplay the humility. One thing I always advise people who are making that transition to do is to get comfortable talking about their skills and capabilities and get comfortable talking about themselves in a positive light. It doesn’t come naturally.

Julia: Their successes for sure, really, really important. Michelle, you were nodding along with some of the remarks that George was making there. Again, love to hear from you one perhaps obvious and one less obvious skill.

Michelle: Thank you. We do a lot of work with our hiring managers around this to sort of emphasise George’s point is to help them understand the complexion of a veteran so they don’t make those assumptions and they don’t have those stereotypes in their heads, and I think that’s a really important part of the conversation as well. An obvious skill, and everybody says that they do this, but vets and athletes are both phenomenal at this, and that’s problem-solving, because from day one in military training, you prepare for when it goes wrong. Most people can follow a plan or a recipe if you want to think about it that way, but what happens when the wheels come off the cart? Your military training is all about that contingency planning, branch planning, what happens when you don’t survive first contact. That’s really ingrained that military mindset. We used to have a phrase in the Ministry of Defence, which was innovate or die. That’s the kind of mindset, always look for a way around that problem, and certainly our hire managers came back to us is that they love that about our vets and it goes to their resilience as well, is that they just won’t be stumped. They will not be overcome by a problem. They’ll find a way round it through it, over it under it, and that’s a commonly understood skill set.

Maybe one that’s less thought about for me is something around ownership and really owning a problem set, really owning the decision and following that right through to the end. It’s very different, I think, sometimes in the corporate world. Of course, we all collaborate and we want to get consensus and opinion, but sometimes you just need to make the decision, and our vets are really good at that. They’ve got a huge amount of grit that they can apply in different situations. For me when I help the new programme members in one of the things I say to them is own your decisions and own your own thought process. Follow it through to the end and back yourself. So I think that’s probably one that’s less well understood is the grit and the ownership.

Julia: Just going back to the innovate or die, I think about the conversations I have. My world is in financial services and technology, the world of innovation Fintech, and of course, this conversation comes up all the time in trying to find skills and talent with people who really truly understand that not only do you have the persistence and the just determination to find the answer, but also we live in a world which is all about risk mitigation and risk management. So you talk about your contingency planning as well, this couldn’t be a better industry, in my opinion, because that’s exactly what we’re all trying to do, which is to innovate, but without risk. It’s a perfect combination.

David, let me come to you. When I think about Invictus Games competitors, of course, I’m immediately thinking about the embodiment of focus, tenacity, strength, determination, training resilience as well. I’d love you to share an example if you would, where you’ve seen enlightened employers have really appreciated the contribution that veterans and particularly those with disabilities and have been disabled in service, what are good examples of where they’ve engaged fully, but also supported veterans in returning or moving into the world of corporate life?

David: Absolutely, I can give an array of different examples and how different organisations and companies have supported the Armed Forces community. But it’s not just about supporting the Armed Forces community, because as we’ve just heard from that conversation, it’s about how they can benefit themselves. This isn’t all about charity. This is about how can we tap into those amazing talents and resources that George and Michelle have just described? Salesforce is a fantastic organisation. VetForce, which George has a key leadership role in, key leadership role in the international organisation of VetForce, those kind of companies where they’ve got that veterans network that’s really, really important because they are able to tap into those resources and spread them around the organisation whilst also perhaps helping to erode some of those truisms and helping to integrate and transition people from one organisation into another. So that’s a way in which an organisation can be hugely helpful is through that veterans network. Supporting with expertise, the Invictus Games Foundation would really benefit from legal support, pro bono legal support from Clifford Chance. We couldn’t operate without them

In terms of examples where organisations have been really, really forward-leaning again, to tap into those resources whilst also having a process or element, I’ll give you two straight off, the first being Jaguar Land Rover and the second being the NHS. Jaguar Land Rover straight after the Inaugural Games in 2014, they set up an amazing programme alongside the charity Mission Motor Sport, tapping into those incredible skills and experiences that people have had in the military of maintaining vehicles in really austere environments. Perhaps where you haven’t got all the parts, you’ve got to be really, really resourceful in tapping into that resilience that George was talking about. How can you get this vehicle back on the road? And by the way, you need to do it in the next half an hour or else we could be in trouble here. Those kinds of attitudes and resourcefulness JLR took advantage of and created a programme of drawing wounded, injured, sick veterans from Mission Motor Sport into their ranks.

The final one I mentioned was the NHS through their programme, Step into health, so again, recognising that all these different experiences and skill sets would be truly beneficial for the running of that huge behemoth that is the NHS. Who would you rather have running a theatre than an ex-major or someone who just that man management, resource management.

If I may mention one more, a bit of a personal anecdote with John Roberts, who set up appliances online AO, that huge company that I’m sure everyone buys their tumble dryers from. He once told me that when he gets a CV, if he sees a career delivery driver and that’s all they’ve done throughout their career, he’s sort of a little bit concerned by that. But if he sees a veteran on that CV, he’s like “brilliant. I want to hire that guy because he hasn’t got a shot. He hasn’t got a place where people go and visit and choose their tumble dryer and their washing machine. The only interaction the customer has with AO is the person that delivers that washing machine or that tumble dryer. And he would much rather have a veteran who’s going to go that extra mile, use that problem solving, seeing there’s an issue that there’s an old lady who needs their tumble dryer on the third floor of the flat and just go tell you what, I haven’t just delivered to the front door, I’m going to go the extra mile and I’m going to take it up and put it in for you.” So he purposely and proactively hires from the veterans community.

Julia Streets: They’re great examples. Just almost how organisations can really think about what matters to them. We talk about user experience. We talk about customer engagement. We talk about being customer-centric, and actually, there’s so much in that in terms of the last mile delivery, but also just the determination. Failure is not an option is kind of what’s coming through loudly and clearly. But I just want to pivot the conversation onto as leaders within the world of financial services. So say I’m in an organisation that wants to be bringing in veteran talent. If I could ask you to do this quite quickly as well, if you would, but just one or two really fast pieces of advice that enlightened leaders should be mindful of when they have hired and should be supporting the transition of military veterans and service personnel into their organisation. David coming to you first of all, if I may.

David: I think it builds on what Michelle was saying earlier about that understanding of the asset that you have there. It doesn’t matter where you’ve recruited them from and their previous rank structure. They will have absolutely certainly had exposure to leadership opportunities in a dynamic and austere environment. Whether you’re a private soldier or a Major or a Colonel, it doesn’t matter, you will have been tested in your own leadership at a very, very young age and they will be used to it. They’ll be used to talking in front of people. They’ll be used to confidently expressing their views, their opinions and their way round an issue. Just don’t stifle that, help them immerse themselves into the new environment and really help grow that asset along those experiences of leadership at a young age and problem solving.

Julia: Wonderful. Michelle, what would you add to that?

Michelle: I think it comes back to the word transition. When you’re hiring a veteran direct out of the service, they’re not changing their job, they’re changing their lifestyle. Their identity has been set for them and they felt part of an organisation. They’ve had a uniform. We mentioned the lingo, different language. You’re not getting a cookie cutter hire, and I think that’s really important for hiring managers to understand. I think the real positive is that to a person, every vet I’ve ever had on my programme have always wanted to make an impact straight away, and that can be a sense of frustration to them because they’re used to going to their new unit and having instant impact in what they’re doing. And coming into a new industry, it’s going to take investment and a bit of time, but if you invest upfront, you’ll reap rewards all the way down the line. So harness that willingness to make an impact and just be mindful that it’s not going to be like another hire from elsewhere in the industry.

Julia: George, when you are out talking to Salesforce executives, and also in your wider work as well, building on the two comments about what leaders should really pay attention to, what else would you add?

George:  I think one of the big aspects of that transition for military to the civilian or commercial world is getting a different sense of what the word value means. When you’re serving, it’s not about making money, you know what everyone else is paid, you’re not driving a profit. There are very few people who actually have their hands on budgets to the degree that perhaps leaders do in commercial environments. Sometimes there’s this sense people need to shift their mind slightly about how they’re going to deliver value to their organisation. I think that’s also linked to this idea of values, which I know is something very different. But what people join the military typically to give back, to be of service and some organisations sometimes need to help those individuals find those ways within their organisations that they can give back. I’m very lucky with Salesforce because there’s such a strong philanthropic core to our organisation and VetForce is the vehicle that I use to really scratch that itch that I have around service and giving back to the community.

Another one I would say is that, and David mentioned this earlier on, Michelle touched on it as well actually, this idea that sometimes there’s this misconception that all veterans are a bit damaged. That’s not true, but there are some people who do have mental health challenges, given the intensity of operations over the last 10/15 years. Make sure that your employee assistance programme is clearly pointed out to those individuals and make sure you build a really good veterans community that can support those individuals who are very capable of contributing to your organisation, but may need a little bit of specialist help at some point.

Julia: Great. It’s been incredibly rich listening to you. Actually, each of you have been building on each other’s remarks, because there’s so much in there that enlightened leaders can really get hold of and bring it to bear. I’d love you to, as we just kind of seeing us out in the show actually, to ask you to offer us a parting remark, but I’m going to ask you to look at it from different perspectives if I may. So that the listeners could be with us right to the very end and go away completely inspired and hopefully actually drive some change because we’re all about shining a light on positive progress, calling out areas that require further focus and then offering lots of ideas to inspire change as well. Michelle, could I come to you first of all? Give us a parting remark about what listeners should pay attention to or one recommendation when it comes to welcoming in talent.

Michelle: I would say be bold and really look for the point of difference. Because if you, as an organisation, as a senior leader, if you really want to drive diversity into the heart of your organisation, you’ve got to look in different places for that talent, and the veteran community is a good example as is athletes. I think by doing that, you’ll enrich the cognitive diversity of your teams. I think the other thing in welcoming talent is put the structure in place. Just don’t drop them from a height, make sure they’ve got that buddy and that mentor and they’ve got a pathway. And as I said earlier, a little bit of investment up front will reap huge dividends down the line. I’ll just urge our leaders to be bold.

Julia: Wonderful. Thank you very much for that. David, I mentioned the opening remarks and actually when you were talking about your focus for the year, you were saying life beyond the games. You’ve got the games in the Hague this year. But also, there seems to be a corporate engagement life beyond the games as well. So what recommendation would you give to the audience about potentially supporting the Invictus Games Foundation and also other military service communities?

David: I’d say we’ve got the games coming up in may in the Hague. Just watch the games in the Hague. Catch it on any form of media, social media or on tv, you’ll see it. You won’t be able to move. You won’t be able to miss it. Those stories, those inspiring stories should move you. If they don’t, you’re probably made of stone, but they should move you to act. Please get in touch with us on our website, the Invictus Games Foundation. If you can offer any support to help us continue to do what we do and support the international community of those that have served and sacrificed so much in that service.

Julia: Of course, the world of financial services is an international community. So many of the organisations who listen to this podcast are international businesses. To be able to work with the international network just strikes me as being a phenomenal opportunity as well. Thank you, David, for those parting thoughts. George, what parting words of advice would you give? But also I’m really keen to hear a little bit more about the Armed Forces Covenant. Talk to the audience about why they should get involved with that.

George:  Well, the first thing to say is signing the Armed Forces Covenant is a really easy thing to do. You can go online, search it up and you’ll see what the standard pledges are and then you can adapt it to your own organisation. What it does really is it acts as a catalyst or a vehicle to your organisation to do the right things when it comes to veterans in the military community. If nothing else, it’s a piece of paper as a veteran that you can wave in your leader’s faces and say, look, we signed the Armed Forces Covenant. We have a certain commitment here. Really consider that and reach out to the defense relationship management team who are the custodians of the Armed Forces Covenant and they will help you and guide you along that path.

The thing I would say that I want to leave people with is hiring veterans and military spouses is not risky. It is not risky. If it does feel like a risk, then I can assure you that the rewards of doing it far outweigh those risks. If you’re worried about hiring someone from the military community and you don’t understand it, a good first step is to reach out to an organisation like the Invictus Games Foundation or a military charity. Get involved. Let them help and guide you. Get to learn to understand the community and meet some of those individuals and they will put you on the right path. But take a punt, hire a veteran, hire a military spouse.

Julia: Wonderful. What a great way to see out the show. It’s been such a joy to have the three of you on the show. George Griffin , thank you for being on the show, but also for all your work as well.

George:  Absolute pleasure. Thanks so much, Julia.

Julia: Michelle Osborne. It’s been great. You’ve obviously got a very busy year ahead. We wish you every success with that. Thanks for joining us today.

Michelle: Thank you ever so much for having me.

Julia: When you talk about a busy year, with the Invictus Games coming up, and I have to say I had the great honour of being in Sydney for the opening ceremony of the Invictus Games a few years ago. It was phenomenal. It was a real life highlight for me. David, thank you for joining us. Really appreciate it.

David: It’s been great. I’ve really enjoyed it. If you can make it out to the Hague, we’d love to see you out there.

Julia: Well, it’s very tempting. To all our listeners at DiverCity Podcast, I’m always grateful for your support, your patronage. Please do share this episode. And if you are on social media, we’d love you to give us a rating, because it all helps support the show. I’ve been Julia Streets. Thanks so much for listening.

Kieron: This episode of DiverCity Podcast was produced by me, Kieron Yates, on behalf of Julia Street’s Productions. You can find out more about the guests on this week’s show on our website, divercitypodcast.com. And that’s divercity with a C, not an S. Whilst you are there, you can also sign up to our newsletter for all our latest updates. All our episodes are available in Apple Podcasts, Spotify, or your favourite podcast app. If you enjoy DiverCity Podcast, remember to share on social media and give us a rating or review, it really helps promote the show to a wider audience. Finally, our Twitter handle is @divercitypod. Thanks for listening.