How one ex-soldier left the British army and found a second life in banking
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How one ex-soldier left the British army and found a second life in banking

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When Kevin Gartside was medically discharged from the British army in 2012 after three tours of duty in Iraq, he was unsure what to do next. He saw cross-over appeal in banking, an industry with a surprisingly flat operating structure that prizes punctuality, teamwork, adaptability and decision making.

When Kevin Gartside bid farewell to the British Army in 2012, he left behind the only professional vocation he had ever known.

He didn’t want to leave. On his third tour of duty in Iraq he was injured – not gravely but enough to prevent him from leading from the front. As he puts it: “I could no longer put my house on my back and lead soldiers up a hill.”

The resulting medical discharge came as a shock. Having just been promoted to the rank of major, he was well on track to being a company commander.

Instead, he faced ‘resettlement’, the term used for the transition from military to civilian life. It can be brutal and it’s something that pretty much all service personnel must one day face.

“It’s a 20-year career,” he says in a quiet Northern Irish accent. “When it’s over, you’re 40 years old with an entire second career ahead of you.”

Whether you’re a lowly private or a lieutenant colonel, you face the same problem: once your time in the army is done, you likely don’t have much of a clue what to do next.

Gartside at least had a vague plan. Having commanded a lot of young and poorly educated soldiers, he could see the importance of giving them support and guidance.

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Asia editor and Global Private Banking and Wealth Management editor
Elliot Wilson is Asia editor and Global Private Banking and Wealth Management editor. He joined the magazine in 2020 having been a regular contributor focusing on China and the Indian subcontinent, Russia and Eastern Europe/the CIS. He is based in Hong Kong.