Our QandA with Ex-Forces in Business Award nominee Ian Drysdale

Our QandA with Ex-Forces in Business Award nominee Ian Drysdale
Marie Simmons

Our QandA with Ex-Forces in Business Award nominee Ian Drysdale

We speak to our Scaffolding Project Manager, Ian Drysdale, about his nomination for the Ex-Forces in Business Award ahead of the awards ceremony on 25th May.

Carbon60 was thrilled to learn that our Scaffolding Project Manager, Ian Drysdale, has been shortlisted for the Ex-Forces in Business Awards.

The awards, taking place in Glasgow on 25th May, feature several categories, all of which salute ex-military personnel who have gone on to second successful careers in the civilian world. For Ian, his nomination recognises the value he’s added to our business since leaving the Navy, as well as the support Carbon60 has provided in his transition.

We’re immensely proud that Ian’s a finalist for the Military Values in Business category. It’s an award designed especially for veterans who have created successful business results and advanced their career through exhibiting and applying military virtues and values to their role.

As an employer with strong connections to our British Forces, this is a great achievement that we’re delighted to shout about! Ahead of the awards later this month, we took some time out with Ian to speak with him more about his career and how it feels to be an award nominee.


Q: Tell us about your career within the armed forces

A: I joined the Navy one freezing cold January (I’ll never forget that!) when I was 17 back in 1990. I joined up as a Marine Engineer after completing my basic training. The first ship I joined was HMS Brilliant and my first trip was straight into the Gulf War in 1991.

After spending six months out there, I came back and was then sent to the former Yugoslavia for 3 months.

When I returned, I went into the emergency support pool, so I could basically be put onto any ship that was short of labour. I was sent to do short stints on another two frigates - Battleaxe and Broadsword.

After that, I went up to Faslane (Naval Base in Clyde) for three years working on the ship lift and floating dock. I became a crane operator and was docking and undocking nuclear submarines which was quite scary at times!

And from there I went onto Fisher Protection around the Bay of Biscay area - making sure boats are legal and working within limits. I did that for probably four or five years.

Next, I went back to Faslane and onto Minehunters, travelling Europe and Scandinavia for a couple of years.

Then, because of an ongoing wrist injury, I spent my final three years of service based in the Armed Forces Careers office in Edinburgh, recruiting for the Navy and Royal Marines. It was at the end of this role that I got the unfortunate news my services were no longer required due to my injury and I was medically discharged in 2003.

So, it was a really varied career!

Q: Why did you chose the Royal Navy?

A: It goes back to the Falklands War. I was only ten or eleven at that time, but I was intrigued by it, and I said back then “I’m joining the navy”. Fortunately, I got to.

I sat my test on my 16th birthday and was adamant I was going to be a Marine Engineer. There were no positions at that time, so I had to wait a year and went back at 17. I joined HMS Raleigh aged 17.5.

Q: Following your medical discharge in 2003, did you start your career in recruitment straight away?

A: No, not straight away. My training was electrical and I had a friend who worked away as an electrician. I managed to start with him, and it led to me working with General Electric on power stations as an electrician in the UK, Spain, Holland, Norway, Turkey - I even had a short stint over in America.

Recruitment was something I fell into…

I never applied to be a Recruitment Consultant. Companies had just picked up my CV and I got two calls in two days: one from Rullion, one from ABC, and had interviews arranged with both. The meeting with ABC was first and by the time I got home, I had a call saying there was no need to attend a second interview and they’d like me to start on Monday. That was in 2007.

Q: So, what’s it been like since?

A: Well, my recruitment career has been as varied as it was in the Navy. I started as a Consultant on an M&E desk in Edinburgh, before being asked to go and be an onsite consultant down in Bredero Shaw (The Pipes). I did that for about seven years - early starts, long days, but good times. Not unlike the Navy.

From there I was Onsite Account Manager for around three years, until the contract we were working on wasn’t renewed and I went back up to spend time in both Glasgow and Edinburgh offices.

In between that I’ve done contractor care roles and eventually fell into scaffolding, something I really enjoyed, kept working on, and it grew from there.

Q: Is there anything that’s stood out in transitioning from a Forces career to a civilian one?

A: There’s a lot you bring with you from the military. Skills, discipline, respect, values attitude. My Marine Engineering background was completely different, but some things will always stay with you from the Navy and they definitely help in other areas of your life.

Q: Did you know about the Ex-Forces in Business Awards before being nominated?

A: I’ve seen them before and have received emails from them in the past asking if I’d be interested in nominating myself, but I could never do that! However, no-one has admitted to having nominated me. I have my suspicions about who it is, but she hasn’t owned up yet! 

Q: So, congratulations on being a finalist. What’s next?

A: Yes, I’m a finalist for the Military Values in Business award. The nominations are now put in front of a board made up of different veterans and senior business professionals. They’ll decide the winners and we find out the results at the awards ceremony on 25th May.


Transition to Civilian Life

For some servicemen and women, the transition into civilian life can take years to adapt to.  Like Ian, they’ve often developed valuable transferrable skills and qualities that perfectly complement commercial environments - but communicating those skills to potential employers can be challenging. The Ex-Forces in Business Awards are crucial in highlighting these challenges and for increasing the visibility of, and support available for, our ex-military role models. They’re further important for empowering and inspiring current and future service leavers and in educating employers about the value that ex-services personnel can add to their business. 


For this reason, Carbon60 looks forward to continuing to support the Ex-Forces in Business Awards, and our ex-military employees. It’s a topic close to our hearts. We’re already extremely proud to have signed the Armed Forces Covenant and to have subsequently achieved an MOD Gold Award. These are in addition to our ongoing sponsorship of the RAF Ski Team and the Royal Navy Football Association, and of course our strong links with the MOD in providing ongoing technical and engineering solutions.


On hearing of Ian’s nomination, Carbon60’s MD, Paul Nolan said:

“I’ve had the pleasure of working with Ian and, as with many of our ex-service personnel, have been delighted with his aptitude and attitude over the last 15 years. It’s not easy to survive in our particular industry without resilience and self-discipline in your role, before even learning and honing your recruitment skills, but veterans seem to thrive in this environment. Within Carbon60 we also work to a set of values – Role Model, Collaboration, Willingness to Learn and Driven to Deliver which marry very well with the values that ex-service men and women bring to the commercial world. I’ve seen Ian grow and flourish at Carbon60 into a leadership role and I’m quite sure this stems from his Navy training and this, combined with trying to give our business a “family feel” in what is ultimately a corporate landscape, has helped Ian succeed.”

When asked at the end of our interview, whether Ian had anything he’d like to add he simply told us what an honour and privilege it was to be nominated - especially for simply pursuing a career he really wanted to do. Ian described how surprised he was to then be shortlisted as a finalist and said the thought of having to collect an award was actually ‘quite frightening.’

Ian’s very humble and modest and we know he’s not a fan of being the centre of attention. But on this occasion, we think Ian is something to shout about. We’re extremely proud of what he’s achieved during a very varied career with Carbon60 so far, his success undoubtedly underpinned by the skills, values and disciplines Ian gained from his time in the military.

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