Beyond the Uniform: How Matt Williams Applied Leadership and Problem-Solving Skills in Occupational Hygiene

A meaningful job and a change of direction
“What does a meaningful job mean to you?” That age-old question we have all come across and struggle to answer. For former RAF Police Close Protection Operator and now IOM Operations and Quality Assurance Team Leader Matt Williams his response for what are two very different careers was ‘A sense of purpose and a feeling of giving back.

Yes, on paper they are polar-opposite worlds but for Matt, who spent seven years in the RAF including a tours of Iraq and Afghanistan before leaving to embark on a different vocational pathway, his appointment to the IOM in 2019 gave him the change of direction both he and his family were looking for.

In being recognised for his wider transferable skills, he has been able to successfully apply his military learnings to his role within IOM resulting in a feeling of personal and professional satisfaction as he helps the organisation it in its mission to positively impact society.

As Matt himself says: “Just because you don’t have specific industry experience does not mean that you do not have a useful skillset to offer, and I was very lucky that IOM had the vision to see that in me. Whilst the journey might be different, if you assess your experiences and your learnings you will have the necessary skills that you require to carry out your job successfully.”

Bringing key military skills to IOM
Not everything goes to plan in the military, and you need to be able to overcome obstacles. With this in mind one of the most relevant skills Matt has brought to IOM, as identified by the HR team and his mentor Dave Flower is his ability to think on his feet, assess a problem, and test out different solutions in what are often high-pressured and sensitive environments, a key ingredient to being an effective Occupational Hygienist and Ventilation Technician.

For example, going into a surgical theatre that may have an unfit ventilation system and looking at different approaches to how to remedy the problem and avoid a potential closure which could result in many delayed operations.

Refined in the military, this solution-focused fail-fast approach looks at all the different pathways that you can take to reach your desired outcome, if one doesn’t work you move onto the next rather than wasting time on something that is not working. In such a client-facing organisation as IOM, it ensures an agile response based on assimilated evidence and means that businesses can resume operations quickly and compliantly which is vital.

Alongside this Matt brings a leadership ethos that instills confidence to cultivate a team of leaders that can use their initiative, rely on independent thinking, and take personal responsibility. This leadership style very much in tune with that found in the military ensures that each member of his 10-strong occupational hygiene & ventilation team is empowered and motivated to work effectively to their full potential for both the good of IOM and their clients. 
Finally, clarity of communication with both clients and team members, and being able to relay accurate information and findings is a vital part of Matts role and one which no doubt crosses over seamlessly from the military. Critical within the field of Occupational Hygiene, open and clear dialogue ensures successful team collaboration and demonstrates to clients why specific work and assessments were undertaken.

IOM career support and development
As IOM continues to grow, Matt’s appointment demonstrates the recruitment ethos held by the organisation. One that looks to people’s unique and individual expertise and knowledge, believing that skills gleaned from a variety of careers can be invaluable with the support of structured on-the-job learning, expert colleagues to call upon, and professional study.

Whilst his vast range of transferrable skills were clear to IOM leading them to invest in his industry specific modules, and assessments, they continue to offer vital in-house support and development to help him enhance and harness this skillset for his specific role within the organisation.

Organic mentoring support has been fundamental allowing Matt to learn from an experienced colleagues on the job, a chance to talk openly, seek advice and develop skills, as well as this he has fortnightly Leadership Development Coaching from People and Operations Director, Michelle Reid again to have a forum for discussion and guidance.

Coupled with this valuable one-on one-approach, The Behavioural Development Programme ensures Matt can tap into his existing expertise and continue to refine it as it relates to effective leadership, teamwork, managing conflict, and gaining trust.

The Learning Management Platform and Wellbeing Hub have also given him opportunities to be signposted to modules and resources to help him both professionally and personally such as coaching skills and resilience training.

With this multi-layered development approach IOM have in Matt a valuable colleague and team leader, and he, a rewarding career path which in his words has given him: “a sense of belonging.”

Realising potential
IOM is not alone in understanding the value of employing individuals such as Matt, indeed a 2022 YouGov survey demonstrates that 71% of employers think hiring ex-service personnel brings with it a strong work ethic, and 42% believe it can fill skills gaps.

In looking more widely for talent with much-needed skills, and supporting those colleagues to develop and realise their full potential, IOM continues to strive ahead both as an employer and as an industry leader in the field of Occupational Hygiene.