The man behind V.E.T.S. – Paul Lewis

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Paul Lewis standing by Veterans Employment sign

Paul Lewis – the founder and owner of V.E.T.S. – has over 20 years military experience and is perfectly placed to communicate the needs of employers and candidates appreciating what military ‘speak’ means on Civvy Street.  Here is a little about Paul and his passion for working with veterans.

It’s good to get to know the person behind the business, especially when you are focused so heavily on the military.  Can you please share with us your military background?

I joined the Army in 1989 and served in many roles, including being a member of the Adjutants General Corps where I achieved the rank of Sergeant. I have served in many places around the world including the United Kingdom, Northern Ireland, and Germany and have been on Operational Tours to Northern Ireland, Bosnia and Iraq.

Having been medically discharged from the Army unexpectedly, from a Rugby injury, I decided to look for a new career direction that still maintained a link with the Armed Forces whilst giving me the opportunity to be my own boss.

My 21 year service history with the Army has given me not only an excellent background of working in a demanding role but also a wealth of experience, knowledge and skills that I have been able to carry forward into recruitment.

After leaving the army, why did you choose the recruitment industry for your career?

I feel that my extensive knowledge of the military and the resettlement process after leaving, enables me to find the right candidates for the right clients. Coupled with a good knowledge of how trades and skills transfer from the military to the commercial market, I can be the link in the recruitment chain with an understanding of both sides.

I believe my business comes from my heart and passion to assist veterans into employment when they have left the armed forces, but also those that have been out of the forces for a number of years.  There is not enough support out there for veterans and well I want to aim to be the first port of call for employers and veterans, if they require my assistance.

It’s easy to see why veterans would relate to you as you understand their background and working ethos and culture, but why should employers use you to recruit their employees?

 As I have 21 year’s military service, I have an appreciation of most of the trades and ranks within the forces, which allows me to take a holistic view of a role and the right candidate.  The military terminology doesn’t always translate and I can see what an employer wants and what a certain role can fit in.   Part of my  background within the Army was in HR and Administration for 21 years whereby I ,  administered all soldier records, pay courses and even job roles for their career and career progression.

What is the proudest moment from your military career and from your recruitment career?

I have many proud moments throughout my military career, but one really stands out and that is back in 2004, myself and a friend of mine spent over 6 months fund raising around Germany; we then completed a driving endurance race called “The Cape to Cape Challenge”.  We drove from the most highest tip of Europe “Nord Cape” to “St Tariffa” down in southern Spain completing it in under 60 hours within the national speeds limits of all countries covered.  We won The Military Category and The 4×4 Category andraised over £100,000 for military charitiesSAAFA, The Gurkha Welfare Trust and The Royal British Legion.

What makes veterans stand out as employees?

There are many things that make veterans stand out as employees, but these are some of them:

1. Leadership

The military trains veterans to accept and execute responsibility for resources, tasks and their own behaviour. This special training consists of inspiring leadership in others and motivating others, setting examples, delegating tasks and giving clear and detailed directions.

2. Teamwork

Camaraderie is a crucial part of the military experience. Veterans spend years cooperating with and relying on their team members to stay safe and complete important tasks. Veterans understand the value of teamwork, and how diverse people can work together to achieve goals.

3. Strong Work Ethic

If you’re looking for a mature professional with a strong work ethic, a military-trained candidate should receive serious consideration. Through service, training and lifestyle, former military personnel typically have the work ethic desired in an employee. Veterans take ownership of their actions.

4. Core Values

Veterans have a proven track record of trustworthiness and live by a strong code of ethics and core values. All adhere to the same basic principles: commitment, integrity, accountability, loyalty and “service before self.” Veterans understand the importance of these principles in building a strong team. They also bring with them an intrinsic understanding of how loyalty adds to team proficiency and builds trust in a work environment.

5. Ability to Handle Stressful Situations

Veterans have to perform their jobs under some of the most stressful situations imaginable. Military personnel are required to set priorities, accomplish missions and meet schedules on a daily basis. With this responsibility comes added pressure and stress, but veterans are trained to handle these factors in a constructive way. That means veterans are less likely to crack under pressure even on the busiest or most stressful days in the workplace.

6. Self-direction and Motivation

The rigorous training military members receive produces highly motivated employees who set high goals for themselves and achieve them. They learn how to work toward efficiency, ask for guidance when needed and exercise self-discipline in professional settings. Veterans know how to analyze and resolve difficult and complex problems without constant guidance from supervisors – they’re self-starters who are driven to get the job done right the first time.

What are your passions outside of work?

Outside of the recruitment agency, I run two veterans breakfast clubs and I am also The Armed Forces Champion for The Black Country Chamber of Commerce.  I help and advise on two covenant boards for the Dudley and Wolverhampton Councils.This is where a community covenants complement, at a local level, the Armed Forces Covenant, which outlines the moral obligation between the nation, the government and the armed forces. It encourages local communities to support the armed forces community in their area and promote understanding and awareness among the public of issues affecting the armed forces community.

At home, I love nothing more than escaping with my wife and dogs to the beach in Barmouth, North Wales – my piece of heaven!

Paul with his dogs on Barmouth beach

What quote do you live by?

I don’t have a quote that I live by, but I want to help and give back, but also I want to leave a lasting legacy to my two daughters, showing them that its always good to be nice and also if you work hard, you will get your rewards.  My rewards are when I place ex-military into employment and they just say thank you.  Then I am happy!