Saturday the 29th June marks Armed Forces Day.  MBI is an avid supporter of the Forces with a number of the team having served with them.  Today we spoke to our latest person recruited directly from Armed Forces, our Chief Operating Officer (COO) Martin Hedley.

Hi Martin, can we start by asking how you found yourself making the transition from the seemingly very different worlds of the Army to property services?

Hi, I was lucky enough to serve for 16 years as an Infantry Officer in the Army, joining directly from University. In that time I did everything I could have hoped to achieve, and a whole lot more.  I served all over the world including several overseas deployments to Afghanistan, Iraq and other interesting places. The whole time it was a privilege and honour to work alongside and lead fantastic young men and women.  It remains a great career, but for me it was time for a fresh challenge and I always had a desire to go into business at some point.  Property has always been a passion and it was sector I was actively looking to join during my transition period late last year.  I was fortunate enough to meet Rob Lucy (MBI Group Director – and also ex Army!) via a mutual connection and after seeing first-hand the incredible journey that MBI is on, and meet some of the team, I jumped at the chance to become the group’s first COO in January.

The property services industry and the Army aren’t that different really – both are fundamentally about people and building relationships.  The context is different, but the core skills and values to be successful in both are very similar.  Everyone from John Lipper (Group CEO) down has been incredibly supportive and I have learnt a huge amount about the industry in the last six months – although I appreciate there is still a lot to learn!  Every day is different and my role takes me across all aspects of the business which is brilliant for someone with more of a generalist skill set.

Why is Armed Forces Day important?

This is an annual event to allow the Armed Forces to connect with society and for people to show their support for to the Forces – it always falls around the end of June and is marked by a number of large events held up and down the country.  For me the most important aspect is it allows the public the chance to meet servicepeople and interact with them, ask questions, see their equipment, and just feel more connected to their Armed Forces. The nature of their duties means most of the Armed Forces are often away from large population centres and local security means their bases are understandably difficult to access.

I understand MBI plans to sign the Armed Forces Covenant soon?

Yes, that’s right.  The Armed Forces Covenant is a formal pledge to support the forces community in a number of different ways from employment opportunities for ex-servicepeople, through to specific pledges to help with property related matters. John Lipper will sign this alongside the Commanding Officer of our local Army unit the First Battalion the Royal Anglian Regiment on 8th July 2019 at Royal Artillery Barracks, Woolwich. This isn’t a total coincidence as they were my former unit, but it’s really important to us to connect to our local community, and this builds on other initiatives we have undertaken over recent years such as the  University of Greenwich, local schools and charities.