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  • Natasha Harvey

Celebrating our Armed Forces and their families - Shelley Ambler

In recognition of Armed Forces Day on June 26th, I’ve had the privilege to interview three brilliant serving officers and soldiers who've shared their insights on what they love about their careers, what they’ve learnt and what’s next for their professional futures.

My second profile is of Bombardier Shelley Ambler, 47th Royal Artillery Regiment

Shelley’s path

  • 2008 Army Training Centre Harrogate (basic training)

  • Phase 2 training at Larkhill (Artillery core training)

  • Joined 47th Royal Artillery Regiment

  • 2012 served on Operation HERRICK 15, Afghanistan

  • 2017 took part in U.S. Exercise WARFIGHTER

  • Currently in charge of Regimental Command Post as Detachment Commander

What are the most important things you’ve learnt in your role?

In this job, you’re faced with challenges and adversity that you wouldn’t meet in any other role. So, mental robustness is probably the number one thing. You get used to thinking about how to approach challenges more broadly, from different perspectives and outside of the scope of your own job.

The types of environments we work and train in are also conducive to learning team work and leadership skills. I’ve had a lot of support in learning to recognise my own leadership style, the type of leader I am and the impact I want to have on the individuals I command.

What do you love most about your career?

First and foremost, I’d say support. My Chain of Command have given me the space and time to look after my two young daughters, whilst having a fantastic career in the Army. I’m a very sporty person and my career also gives me the flexibility to pursue my passion for badminton. I play at a high level and represent the UK Armed Forces. I’ve been supported both in developing that passion and also in being given the time to play in tournaments and matches throughout the year.

One of the other advantages of my job is the focus the Army puts on personal development. There are a lot of opportunities to develop new skills that help you grow personally and professionally. I plan to complete my 24-years of service and I know that when the day comes to start planning for my civilian career, I’ll have all the support and training I need to transition easily.

What are you most proud of?

Everything I’ve achieved so far in the Army gives me a sense of pride. I really didn’t think I’d still be here after 12 years and reach the rank of Sergeant – I am and I have! It’s really satisfying. Operation HERRICK 15 in Afghanistan stands out for me. It was one of my greatest achievements and at the same time one of the toughest times in my life. My daughter was 18 months old and I had to leave her for 7 months. I proved to myself, and others, that as a single parent I could do the job and do it well, just as well as everyone else.

Badminton is your greatest passion – why is it so important to you?

The things that are important to me in badminton are also what matter to me at work. I love working and playing as part of a team. The badminton team is a really tight knit group –friends as well as colleagues and team members. And it’s exactly the same at work. Someone’s always got your back. You can talk openly with most people, regardless of rank. The Army has evolved considerably over the past 12 years, people are much more approachable and open to you sharing your thoughts and ideas than they were when I first joined.

What do you hope your daughters learn from seeing you in your career?

I want them to understand the importance of being strong and striving for the goals you set yourself in life. Nothing is too hard if you put your mind to it – I want them to stretch themselves and go for what they really want rather than take the easy path forward.

What’s next?

I have just been selected for promotion to Sergeant, so I’ll be moving to another Battery as a Signals Sergeant towards the end of the year. I’ll do more training and have more responsibilities in terms of management. Beyond that, I’ve got another 14 years left, which I will definitely stay in for! I’m ambitious and aspire to go all the way to the top (Warrant Officer Class 1).

What words of advice would you have for your younger self?

If I could do it all over again, I’d do exactly the same thing. The Army has been the best thing for me. It’s given me everything, so I would say to myself “go for it, you can do whatever you want, it’s a great career!” I certainly wouldn’t choose anything different for myself.

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