Veterans within Plexal discuss signing Armed Forces Covenant one year on from pledge

In March 2023, we signed the Armed Forces Covenant in the presence of General Sir Jim Hockenhull, Commander of UK Strategic Command. Becoming an Armed Forces Covenant signatory cemented Plexal’s pledge to acknowledge and understand those who serve or who have served in the armed forces, and their families, should be treated with fairness and respect in the communities, economy and society they serve with their lives.

This milestone built on our existing operations in the national security space and we’ve continued to expand on that with more defence-specific work, including programmes such as the Airbus Space Accelerator and AWS Defence Accelerator.

To mark the one-year milestone of committing to the Armed Forces Covenant, we’ve consulted internally with our members of staff who have previously served in the armed forces to understand what being a signatory means to them.

Having started his career in the Royal Air Force where he was a commissioned officer and pilot, Saj Huq, CCO and Head of Innovation at Plexal, says: “At Plexal, our mission has always incorporated an intrinsic motivation to serve a greater societal purpose – driving innovation that addresses critical challenges affecting our world, can unlock economic and social progress, and which also makes a real-world impact for communities on a local, national and global scale.

“National security and defence are key focuses within this. However, our underlying reason for why we’re passionate about supporting veterans is a deeper, internal commitment as a company towards building a diverse and inclusive culture that’s welcoming to all. This aligns with a constant pursuit for skills and experiences, which complement and enhance the ecosystems we build – recognising veterans bring plenty to the table with respect to both of these aspects. 

“I was once a beneficiary of service leaver support early-on in my career and I have seen first-hand the transformative effect that pathways such as the Armed Forces Covenant can have. For Plexal to play even a small part in enabling the same opportunity and benefits for a community that we deeply value is therefore something that we as a team feel is incredibly worthwhile.”

Previously serving in the British Army for 20 years, James Gayner, Director of Defence at Plexal, shares: “In an increasingly uncertain and dangerous world, it’s hugely important that the nation as a whole remains ever cognisant of the vital work our armed forces do every day to keep the country secure. Commercial organisations such as Plexal are no exception and we’re hugely proud to work with MOD, Front-line Commands, MOD agencies and defence industrial partners on projects and programmes that contribute directly to supporting that work, helping ensure access to innovative technology and advising on growing ecosystems around key areas that support defence and national security.

“As a serving reservist and recent ex-regular infantry officer, that mission remains my north star and it is hardwired into our ethos as a company. The defence team at Plexal is growing fast and we remain passionate supporters of the Armed Forces Covenant, which helps enshrine the sacrosanct relationship between the nation and her warriors.

“We’re working to progress through the Employer Recognition Scheme and I’m proud to work for a company that values those who have served and those who continue to do so. I would whole-heartedly encourage any other employer to sign the Covenant and join the ERS too; do contact me if you would like any advice!”

A British Army veteran with ten years of experience, Hamza Huda, Defence Lead at Plexal, adds:

“Having recently joined Plexal, knowing they are signatories to the Armed Forces Covenant was a welcome factor when choosing which company to apply to. Not only does it represent the pledge of the company to support armed forces veterans and the wider community, but it‘s a clear approval and understanding of my time in service. Additionally, having transferred from the regular army to the reserve forces I know that my commitment to the reserve forces will be respected, and that I can continue to serve knowing that my full-time employment is supportive. Often when leaving the military, translating your experience can be a difficult task, Plexal being a member of the Armed Forces Covenant meant that my experience would be welcomed.

“An Armed Forces Covenant employer embraces the skills and experience that come with a career in the armed forces and ensures that the environment is suitable for recent service leavers. Community integration, public recognition and employment opportunities are central themes to the Armed Forces Covenant. By far, the most important signal that being a signatory of the Armed Forces Covenant displays is the continuous support to our armed forces veterans and a welcome place for veterans to upskill, retrain and integrate into new industries.

“Personally, as the Defence Lead within Plexal, I can leverage my recent deployed experience and help operationalise concepts that are coming from multiple innovation sources, being able to translate ideas into tangibles is exciting and knowing that my military experience can be used to support SMEs is a great value add to the role.”

“Fundamentally, the Armed Forces Covenant is a brilliant agreement that demonstrates a company’s support to the armed forces community and also to directly supporting veterans when leaving the military.”

New member to Plexal, Jordan Campbell-Briggs, Property Maintenance Operative, formerly a member of the British Army, concludes: “I’m glad that Plexal is signed up to the Armed Forces Covenant because it shows that they’re a resourceful and innovative employer. I think that raising awareness of the Armed Forces Covenant is crucial because it’ll make the army a more attractive career prospect to potential service people, offering some peace of mind about the work they can do later in life.”