Paul Gilligan

Security isn’t always the first thing that comes to mind when you think of BT, but when it comes to keeping everyone safely connected, ‘We Are The Protectors’. We had a chat with Paul to find out how his unique military background prepared him for a career in Security, why he’s proud to work for us and how we support ex-armed forces transition into civilian roles.

Hi Paul, why don't you start by telling us a bit about yourself and your role at BT?

I've been in BT Group Since 2015 and my current role is a Cyber Security Architect within Security. It's my job to create Cyber Security designs and processes for our Security teams and colleagues throughout the globe. I joined BT Group in 2015 as a front line Openreach engineer after serving ten years in the Royal Regiment of Artillery (Highland Gunners). Although I have been in BT for a relatively short amount of time, I have had a varied career so far, which has seen me spend three years in the Chairmans office dealing with High Level Complaints on behalf of our Chairman and CEO and also time as a Service Manager in the Service Management Centre looking after in life services for some of our largest corporate customers. This was made possible by the core values which were instilled in me as a teenager in the Army, which I have been able to adapt and build upon to spur my career progression within BT Group. I have been involved in the Armed Forces Network throughout and have been Chair since April 2021. 

What makes you proud to be a Protector and work for BT?

I am extremely proud to be a Protector and although I am new in the role it was clear since day one what impact we make to not only UK-based businesses but organisations throughout the world. Current economic times have shown us how fragile stability in the world can be and it’s clear how much of an impact we make. The security of our network and customers’ network is sometimes taken for granted, but it’s been a real eye opener joining Security on how hard all our teams work throughout the globe to ensure that BT are at the forefront of Security and trusted to deliver and protect vital services.

Can you tell us about your experience in the Army and your transition into a civilian role?

I joined the Army when I was sixteen and completed my higher education at the Army Foundation College in Harrogate. From there, I joined the Highland Gunners (Royal Artillery) which meant most of my military career was based near Salisbury Plain in Wiltshire. I was deployed to Afghanistan in 2007 as a Forward Observer — Forward Observers are the frontline troops of the Royal Artillery and are generally seen as the eyes and ears of the Artillery. Our main job role involved being integrated with the infantry (Royal Anglian Regiment) on the frontline of battle in Helmand Province. We would radio-grid coordinates back to our Artillery Guns. The role also incorporated indirect control of jets and other aviation capabilities.

I was awarded a Battery Commanders Commendation for Bravery on this tour. I also had a career as a Regimental Bagpiper while serving. This let me travel all over the world playing the Bagpipes from Canada to China, and I was even the Queen's personal alarm clock when she visited Edinburgh in 2010. It's sometimes difficult for employers and service leavers to identify transferable skills from military to civilian life; however, the values the military instils in all of us — selfless commitment, loyalty, integrity, respect for others and discipline — are all incredibly valuable assets that we can all adapt into any civilian career.

For those that may not know, can you tell us about Remembrance Day and why it's important?

Remembrance Day, otherwise known as Armistice Day, is commemorated every year on the 11th November to mark the armistice signed between the Allies of World War I and Germany in France, at 5:45am, for the cessation of hostilities on the Western Front of World War I. The armistice took effect at eleven in the morning — “the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month" of 1918. Armistice Day is incredibly important to remember the sacrifice our ancestors gave in order to give us the freedom most of the modern world enjoys today. Even more so with BT Group, as our direct ancestor — the GPO (General Post Office) — released over 75,000 staff to fight in the war effort. While most of the workforce were drafted, the GPO enlisted around 35,000 women to continue the important work at home. Four Victoria Crosses were awarded to our colleagues during the First World War.

How is the network celebrating Remembrance Day this year?

As like every year, the AFN (Armed Forces Network) find remembrance day extremely important. Given that we are spread across the entire BT Group we wanted to give everyone the opportunity to pay their respects, as not all of our colleagues are able to meet face to face. Therefore, we will be holding a virtual remembrance service on Microsoft Teams on Friday 11 November 2022.

Can you tell us a bit about the work BT does with the military?

We engage employees across BT to educate and inform them about the importance of our Network to BT as a business. We also identify talented people who are leaving or have left the Armed Forces and generate high-quality recruits for BT. We connect and engage with BT people who have an interest in the armed forces, nationally and regionally. This includes veterans, reservists, supporters, spouses, partners and families. We run regular workshops for service leavers helping them to articulate their transferable skills on CV’s and in interviews as well as giving a general overview of the different careers within BT Group. We are also developing a pilot programme for next year, which will create a better experience for Service Leavers looking to transition into the world of civilian work, with clear pathways to join BT once they have successfully completed the programme.  

As Chair of the Armed Forces Network, why do you think it's important for ex-military to be part of a community?

BT's historic foundations are made up of members from our Armed Forces community. I am extremely proud that BT are Gold Members of the Armed Forces Covenant, which was rewarded this year for another five years, a promise that we acknowledge and understand that those who serve or who have served in the armed forces, and their families, should be treated with fairness and respect in their communities, economy and society. The Armed Forces Network offers an essential arm to not only the business, but to welcome members of our Armed Forces Family into the business. 

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