A lot of people aren’t aware that the army runs an external placement scheme for officers, and that such schemes can act as bridges between the private commercial sectors and the traditionally public world of Defence. The technical knowledge and expertise gained, can run in both directions, thereby strengthening both sectors and propelling strategy and development; providing mutual benefits to Defence as a whole. Jonathan Cole, (CB, OBE and Director of Defence at BT) is one of those bridges, and due to his extensive knowledge and expertise, is an important asset to BT.
“I took part in the placement scheme as a fairly senior officer,” he says, “as I was a Brigadier who was about to be promoted to Major General, and for six months I had the opportunity to come and work for BT.” At that time, Cole worked in BT’s Technology unit rather than where he is now - at BT’s Enterprise business which is one of the customer-facing areas. “I really came here to have a breath of fresh air, to learn about the commercial world and about some of the technologies that are out in the commercial sector which Defence was potentially not utilising. In many ways it was a chance for me to understand another large enterprise with a lot of parallels to the MoD.”