Royal Electrical Mechanical Engineers - careers case study

Steven Moir, MCQI CQP, is group assurance manager at Spice, a company providing outsourced infrastructure support services principally to the utility sector

Steven Moir

At 18, Steven Moir began working life with the British army, joining the Royal Electrical Mechanical Engineers. The corps plays a crucial role in military operations around the world and is responsible for the regular inspection, maintenance and modification of mechanical, electrical and aeronautical items to ensure they are always ready for action.

What Steven did not realize during his seven years of service, was just how useful his training and skills would be outside the army. Today he is an experienced quality manager, but although he is now a long way from battle tanks, the fundamental concepts he learned in the army have proved vital throughout his varied career. Now he wants to let other servicemen and women know that there is a potential career option after the army − in quality.

Steven said: ‘Quality was built into you at REME from the beginning. Not only was it all safety inherent but they also gave you the ability to follow a process and taught you discipline, all of which are key attributes for following any system or being a quality professional.

‘I was an electrical equipment technician and the work ranged from repairing a photocopier to a battle tank. You were taught the skills and principles and were expected to apply them, which was really an apprenticeship for ‘best in class’.

‘I didn’t realize at the time but going through the system, everything we did was best in class. We didn’t have any accidents and there was no re-work. The whole doctrine was fantastic.

‘I worked in a battalion led by Colonel Sharpe and our work was effectively a blueprint for total quality management. We were trained using that thought process and analysis because it was the logical fault-finding process for fixing things. We were taught that if you do a proper job and you follow the process, life is easy. Looking back, that’s probably why it went hand in hand with CQI membership.’

When Steven left the army in 1994, his future looked uncertain but his skills were spotted by prospective employers, even if he did not fully appreciate them himself. Like many ex-servicemen he was unsure whether his skills would receive recognition outside of the army.

Steven’s experience in defence, combined with his knowledge of quality, quickly earned him a job as a health, safety, environment and quality adviser and technician at Serco Defence Support in Germany. He developed experience with CCTV and telecommunications, but also repaired battle tank simulators. Two years later he became a spacecraft controller, part of a team of six who were responsible for the performance of Europe’s largest satellite, worth £500m.

He then went on to be appointed corporate assurance manager at Serco Defence and Aerospace in Aylesbury.  Over the last ten years he has worked in senior health and safety roles at Interserve, Facilities Services Group and now at Spice, which specializes in infrastructure services for the electricity and water sectors.

However, during his career Steven felt he was still missing recognition for his experience in quality, although he had become a chartered member of the Institute of Occupational Safety and Health. In 2008, he joined the CQI.

‘After I left the army I gained years of experience in quality but I didn’t have any formal recognition for it,’ Steven said. ‘Nobody ever says do you realize you could be a member of the CQI?

‘I was looking at a more formal course in quality and I came across the CQI so I thought I would join. As soon as I found out about it I put my portfolio together and applied within about three months.

‘Becoming a chartered member of the CQI has helped my CV and my career but for me, becoming a member was more about recognition. To be recognized by your peers as a professional in quality is fantastic.’

Steven is now far more aware of the benefits of his army education. However, he feels there is still a lack of awareness among ex-servicemen of the career opportunities available to them.

Great lengths have been gone to by the REME resettlement team to make sure that engineers find work when they leave the army, and the CQI has been working alongside the corps to help give the servicemen a sense of recognition, by sponsoring the annual REME awards. The awards recognize engineering excellence delivered through effective change programmes, deployed through management systems and supported by personnel training and development.

Steven said: ‘‘Finding the same variety when you come out of the services is tough so the REME resettlement team is crucial. There are key organizations out there such as the water and the electricity industry which are crying out for people but the service engineers don’t know about them.

‘Before you leave the army you don’t actually recognize what you are worth and people can tar you all with the same brush, not understanding your capabilities. A lot of engineers miss out on the recognition of how good they are.

‘Since REME, I’ve always liked going into new industries to learn differently things are done. In my job now there is a lot of variety and we work across lots of industries.

‘The electricity industry definitely suits former service personnel from REME because it’s highly regulated and it all involves individual discipline. A lot of people from REME would also be well-suited to CQI membership. Now I haven’t got a tool box in my hand but the same thought process goes into it.’

Steven is now planning to pursue Fellow status at the CQI. He has recommended the CQI to colleagues and is keen to begin networking with his local branch in Milton Keynes.

Useful links
CQI REME awards
REME resettlement

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