determined, resilient, inspiring

Rusila was in Recruit for Spouses first cohort of Liquid Workforce – our progressive, agile team of spouses. She came to us unsure of what to do and lacking in belief of her own capabilities, but with a willingness to learn and a work hard ethos. Rusila, is now in gainful employment with BAE Systems in a flexible contract that works around her family, establishing a local co-working hub in her own home, working with the Fijian community within the Armed Forces and being a mum and wife. There’s not much Rusila can’t do.What is your career background?

What is your career background?

Initially, when I graduated from University, I wanted to follow in my parents’ footsteps and become a high school teacher. I did that for a few years before moving into international marketing for a few years. I got married and moved to Cyprus to join my husband in his Army career. From Cyprus to Germany, I had administration roles and took a career break in Belgium before returning to the UK. Upon our return I took up the next available job working for the catering company in our camp before having to move again.

Why did you approach recruit for spouses?

After living overseas for a number of years, moving to the UK seemed daunting at first.  Knowing I was going to be in a mix with all civilians in looking for jobs. An immediate reaction for any spouse in my position was to look for work within the camp we lived in. The moment I walked into our station welfare office, I saw a Recruit for Spouses poster. I started looking at the site and joined the Facebook page. I was so impressed with the services they provided and thought it was best for me to just give it a go and see where it would take me. Recruit for Spouses was, at that time to me, a platform for women who understood my struggles and my challenges as a spouse that had been moving around too many times and not being able to establish a permanent career. Because a lot of companies are well aware of the nature of our lives and believed that hiring me today didn’t guarantee them my being able to hold the role down for a long duration as we had unpredictable postings too.

Can you tell us a bit about the process you undertook with RfS?

Many spouses from the Commonwealth countries lack the relevant advice that is specifically for us and our needs. We are mostly well qualified and have relevant work experiences and when thrown into military life, we are often either left to sink or swim. Because of the lack of assistance and advice, we settle for less all the time.

Our jobs are often something to get us by, not a career. Our culture is often our drawback too and we are normally drawn towards the career that everyone else from our close knit community is working in therefore a lot of us would normally be working in the catering companies within camps or care giving – the shift patterns allow for us to communally approach sharing the care of our children when our husbands are away. We don’t have the same support system as every other military spouse has as the community is our backbone because we don’t have families close by to help us.

I believed in my own abilities and never gave up with looking for the best career to suit our personal circumstances at home. But it can be very deflating to keep trying to achieve and establish a career path when our husbands’ career predominantly takes over the complete lives of our families when living in military quarters.

Recruit for Spouses started me off with the basics, it felt like I came to them in pieces, deflated and very defeated and they pieced me back together piece by piece. Building everything from my CV to the basics of positive reinforcements, to interviewing skills. They weren’t getting paid for these services at all, and I take my hat off to them for seeing my abilities and believing in me from the very beginning. Recruit for Spouses was and is the only platform that exists that really understands the struggles and the plight of every armed forces spouse.

Can you briefly explain the job you do?

Right now, I am permanently employed by Alexander Mann Solutions as a Sourcing Specialist for BAE Systems. I’m part of a dynamic and well established team of Recruiters and Sourcing Specialists based all over the UK that recruit for this outstanding global defence company. On a normal day, I’ll be in briefs, drafting adverts, posting adverts, and shortlisting candidates for interviews. 

What challenges did you face in the search for your new job?

Alexander Mann Solutions and Recruit for Spouses ran a pioneering project to train home-based recruiters in their head office in Bracknell last year. Of the hundreds that applied, eight spouses from those shortlisted were available to do the four days training.

Because I was the only commonwealth spouse in this group, that was an obstacle for me personally. I had never met a group of intelligent and well qualified spouses from the tri-services as these ladies. I had also never done recruiting before and I doubted myself and my abilities too, I had no doubt about the hard work I was going to put in, but the ‘new’ field was challenging.

The security checks that followed as well, was so defeating because we had moved from many different countries and had to get clearances which was such a challenge. Many spouses work in the different countries they get posted to without realizing that security clearance checks are vital for some jobs here in the UK.

Personally, I lacked the familiarity of this whole process.  No one from my community understood, and no one shared the same struggles as me to have this great opportunity – I really had to motivate myself to even believe in myself again and to believe there was something they saw in me that I can’t see and that I needed to push on to prove that I could succeed in this new journey.

What has been your proudest moment?

My proudest moment will always be becoming an Army wife and of course, having my son.

I am always so very proud of my husband who came from Fiji with no formal qualifications and no job experience and became the person he is now, achieving so much on his own. Even though commonwealth soldiers don’t have much to their favour with immigration issues and welfare provision upon completion of service, I am so proud of the Fijian men and those from the Commonwealth countries who have continued to work so hard in their service to the Queen and providing the best to their immediate and extended families back home.

For myself, I am very proud to have been the first Commonwealth spouse to pioneer the RFS project with Alexander Mann Solutions. Not only are my abilities recognized but also those of all the spouses that are from Fiji and the Commonwealth. Having secured the first temporary contracts for both Uber and BAE Systems was quite an achievement. Getting that phone call from Heledd Kendrick, CEO of RFS to congratulate me for securing the first permanent home-based Sourcing Specialist role for Alexander Mann Solutions for the BAE Systems team made us all so proud of how far we had come together in this project.

Having played a part to securing more spaces to train home-based recruiters for more military spouses made all the hard work and dedication worth it.

Why is being in work so important for you?

Being in work is very important for me. Apart from the financial security it provides, it is also for my own mental well- being.

I believe that often, living in a military patch and having the security it provides, makes us very complacent. Our husband’s career becomes a priority and I’ve had the challenge of having to put my dreams and aspirations on hold to ensure he gets the promotion he needs to develop his career as he is the main bread winner of the family.

Working and being independent ensures my career can also be developed and it boosts my confidence and self-belief. Working on a promising career path ticks one thing off our list of worries when my husband eventually finishes his service as we transition to civilian life. In addition, having a job impresses upon my son the virtue of hard work, so he grows up knowing nothing comes easy in life and that he can only be successful if he puts in the same amount of effort both myself and his father are putting in to ensure a successful and prosperous future for himself.

What difference has being back in work made to you?

Being back at work has really allowed me to be a source of blessing and inspiration to others in my community. The flexibility of my work with AMS has allowed me to be a better person in serving my community through the Fiji Support Network as a volunteer.

Recruit for Spouses has not only blessed me with this great opportunity, but they have exposed their potential, their ability and their positive contribution to our communities and to all the armed forces spouses. I stand for what RFS believes in and fights for because I am the best and prime example of what they can do.

Their tireless efforts in standing up for those spouses who want to work, who want to build a career, who want to make a difference in their lives is beyond comprehension. They’ve planted a seed in me, and it has definitely grown and has grown roots not only for my community but for the greater community of armed forces spouses. What more can I do as someone who has been blessed with this great opportunity but to give back, give back as much as I can to allow other armed forces spouses to be exposed and gain more than what they’ve been limited with.

As a military spouse, what has been your biggest obstacle when trying to balance work/kids/your spouses’ military commitments?

From the instant I became an Army spouse, I knew my career was going to be put on a hold and on the backburner.

The unpredictable nature of my husband’s day to day to work simply meant that I had to be the stable factor in our home. This was the case in all our postings, as we would first evaluate whether the new unit he was posted with and the nature of their operations would be a bit flexible for us to operate normally with both of us working.

This was hard at the beginning, but our family was the priority and it made things better for us and our family to let his work become the wedge that would make me resent him was a focal point. We’ve been married 10 years this year and this is our seventh and final home. We were coming to a point where I felt that having a day to day job just to get money in to make life a bit better was just not enough.  I believe that at certain points when you continue doing monotonous things and settling for careers that don’t challenge your intellect, you also believe that you can’t get anything better than what you’ve settled for.

We frequently hear, ‘but you chose to be a military spouse so get on with it’ but the reality that spouses like me had 10 years of holding our family together and having to move around settling for whatever was available was never a choice.

When I think of the potential among military spouses; the brain power, talent and skills being moved from post to post that get overlooked.  The not knowing whether they can even have their normal holidays as a family because their partner will go on a last-minute exercise, breaks my heart.

I am fortunate that my husband made it a point to buy a house so I can live in it permanently with our son and be able to have a permanent career. Our son has friends he can grow old with, he can stay in the same rugby or football club and grow with his friends without having to move. He’s only in Year 3 and this is his third and final school which makes me so happy. What our children face as well is a different story. Even if my husband is now a weekend husband/dad because he has had to make that sacrifice, our family is happier and we spend so much more quality time together knowing when he comes home, it’s family time for us without any other military obligations or obstacles.

What advice would you give fellow Military spouses who want to get back into work, retrain for a new career or start their own business?

For every military spouse out there, I firmly believe we are one group of strong women who’s potential and abilities have not even been tapped into. I am part of the surface group that is standing up for something that will benefit us all. Never ever doubt your abilities. We all go through the toughest of situations with our husbands careers and yes, often we are like single parents who are the glue that holds our family together, but always remember, you are also blessed with the same abilities and talents as every other woman out there.

We must always remember our husbands military career will one day come to an end.  Always ask yourself the question ‘what can I do to make things better for my family?’. There is no substitute for hard work in life, only rewards. For my foreign and commonwealth military spouses, our husbands have been blessed with this great opportunity to be part of the Armed Forces. Life has become better for us all, but don’t settle for less. We are setting the trend for our children and their future, don’t ever doubt the God-given talents that you have. Our circumstances may be tough and our adjustments problematic with a lot not in our favour, but don’t let that mountain remain in your way for years so that you lose sight of your own dreams and goals. Lastly, do everything with love and with a lot of joy – happiness is key to maintaining your sanity in this military world.