Soldier to Salesforce – Why the Armed Forces create a unique type of Project Manager

  June 18, 2015       Ryan Nast


After spending 12 years in the Royal Marines and re-training as an Agile Project Manager, I wondered if I was doing the right thing. Would my leadership and management skills learnt in the field be useful in the office? Would I be able to adapt to such a different working environment? Would a company recognise my transferable skills?

So, how does running a project for makepositive compare to running a military operation in the Royal Marines?

  1. Planning: If you are not already aware, operations in the Royal Marines (especially in recent years) are extremely demanding, fast moving and complicated beasts. Asymmetric warfare and a plethora of air, sea and advanced technological assets available to the modern day operation, has meant that precise coordination is vital for any operation to be remotely successful. Salesforce projects, similarly (ran using an Agile methodology) tend to have a lot of working parts that need upfront planning, such as architecture, sprint planning, tight client timelines to work to and a high standard of customer service to work towards – both complex and remarkably transferable ways of working.
  2. Leadership and Management: JBWICK. Judgement, Bearing, Willpower, Integrity, Courage and Knowledge. These are the founding mandatory traits that are drummed in to you through (officially) the world’s most demanding leadership training and through live operations within the Royal Marines. Bringing these attributes in a fast moving project environment has been an extremely relevant and useful exercise. Traits that I enjoy passing onto the teams that I work with!
  3. Communication: Whether you’re using an encrypted military system, shouting at the top of your voice in a battlefield situation or holding daily scrum meetings in the development stage of a Salesforce project to meet a strict deadline, in my experience communication is the NUMBER 1 reason why missions/projects succeed or fail.
  4. Sense of Humour: Both Salesforce project lifecycles and Royal Marines operations have days where a robust sense of humour and a good friend/client relationship becomes the absolute backbone of a successful project.
  5. Governance: No matter what anyone tells you, attention to detail, is essential to a successful project. Paperwork is not a dirty phrase and needs to be upheld to a high standard to cover off both parties involved. Something that the armed forces is not afraid to teach you.


What’s my verdict?

Nearly every skill/trait that the Royal Marines have gifted to me, are transferable and companies such as makepositive are leading the way in the IT sector by recognising this fact and making full use of former armed forces personnel such as myself!