Civvy Life – Charles Hartley – How to Do Things Better

Civvy Life – Charles Hartley – How to Do Things Better

Off By Ed Hanna

It’s fair to say that Charles’ resettlement could’ve been easier. Fortunately, he remembered that well-worn Military phrase: ‘Improvise, adapt and overcome’. He is the co-founder of a security training company.

What’s your Military background?
I joined the Royal Navy in 1997 as a weapons engineering artificer. I Served for 12 years and left in 2009. I spent most of my career working on the 909 radar system as weapons data specialist, on type 42 destroyers – which don’t exist anymore! The final couple of years were teaching at HMS Collingwood. I left as a Chief Petty Officer.

How was resettlement?
It was bizarre. I had to give 12 months’ notice and within about three months of putting mine in, I had a job lined up in the oil industry. My transition, therefore, didn’t focus on much extra training – because I didn’t need it.

I had two months left to run and there was a major crash in the oil industry and I suddenly found that my job didn’t exist anymore. So, I got back in touch with the careers people and explained the situation and they started throwing information at me.

One of the reasons I chose to leave the Navy after 12 years was that I’d got together with my soon to be wife and we were thinking of a family and all the rest of it. I’d come to a point where my next step in the Navy would be away from hands on engineering which I loved, to sitting behind a desk. 

Can you tell us about Secure Command and Control and how you got involved with it?
I’d put money away in reserve, and I was having lunch with a friend who I’d known for five or six years or so, also ex-Forces. We just fell over the idea of creating a training company – but one that brought an extra level to the quality of training. There are a lot of companies out there that offer similar training but they do the bare minimum required to get people through the door. My colleague, Lee, and I felt we could offer a better quality of training – because of the people we could get to do the training. Most of our trainers are tier one or tier two boys who have been there, done it, and know very much what they’re doing.

What do your courses give to Service-leavers that they can’t get elsewhere?
‘PQRS’ – Professionalism, quality and raising the standards – utilising a hybrid methodology.

Do you find yourself using your Military acquired skills and attributes not just in the training, but also in the wider context of your role as a businessman?
Very much so. One of the things the Military teach – and they teach you so many things – is how to organise yourself and others around you; to take charge of a situation.

‘Vestibulum et vincere aptet’ – or – ‘improvise, adapt and overcome’. The Military teaches you that.

The best way to put it is that you get put on a ship with 250 people. You’re stuck on a ship for six months or more with people you don’t know – and you get along with them and you trust your life to them.

What’s your current advice for Service-leavers about to hit civvy street?

After I had left the Forces and I still had no job offers on the table but I stuck with it, kept putting the CV out there and kept on the phone. It was hard, but things started to come along.

What do you miss about the Forces?
The routine and the camaraderie that you build up with people that you’re initially ‘forced’ to get along with.

I don’t think people in the Forces make friends that quickly or easily. I think initially, acquaintance is very easy, if that makes sense. 

You make acquaintances with people you see every day and you get on; you share the same shower block with them, you’re brushing your teeth and shaving next to them and I think people in the Forces can do that really well. It doesn’t matter about your background or what you’ve done previously. The way the Forces do it really, is through banter. By taking the mickey out of each other it helps break down barriers. It becomes a friendship further on down the line. I think that’s something Forces people do much slower but I think it’s more lasting.

About Secure Command and Control
Secure Command and Control Ltd run security training packages designed to raise the bar and create individual operatives and teams who go that one step further. 

With operational experience and knowledge of different services they create best practice within a unique hybrid training methodology.

For further information about their courses visit: