Hoping to pursue a career in the Military himself, Upper Sixth leaver Luke Vinecombe (A), Company Sergeant Major and Head of the Army Section of Bradfield’s CCF, interviews our new Chief Operating Officer Owen Adams OBE, hoping to find out more about his subject’s 30 years in the Army (Royal Artillery) and post-military career.

WHEN DID YOU BEGIN YOUR CAREER IN THE MILITARY?

I was very young, I think 17. I grew up in Australia and was fascinated by the Falklands conflict and, having always wanted to be a soldier, flew over to the UK to pursue a military career. I entered through a course specifically for members of the Commonwealth before enrolling at Sandhurst in 1985. It was a fantastic life experience and to this day I still use much of what I learned.

Facilitating an environment to help the staff flourish as they bring through the next generations is a wonderful opportunity.

WHICH REGIMENT WERE YOU IN?

Royal Artillery. I liked the idea of being able to move around. If you are interested in horses, there’s the King’s Troop or if you want to be a Para or a Commando, you have the option to go down that route. I managed to do all the courses that I wanted; I passed the Para course, Commando course and did Arctic Warfare and Jungle Warfare courses so I knew I had made the right decision.

FOR WHAT DID YOU RECEIVE YOUR OBE?

I took command of a gun regiment, called 40 Regiment, and was tasked with achieving three things at the same time. We relocated to Northern Ireland from Yorkshire, went from being heavy armoured to light forces all while continuing to do deployment for Afghanistan in the space of two years. It was all about having great teams to get us through it and we certainly had that with an abundance of great people.

HOW DID IT FEEL TO RECEIVE THE AWARD?

It is a very humbling experience and a proud one knowing that these amazing things happened under your watch. However, it is an award to the regiment as much as it is to the individual; it is an odd feeling knowing that out of all the people that were involved in making those things happen, there is only one person who gets the public recognition.

BEING IN THE MILITARY REQUIRES YOU TO MOVE AROUND A LOT. IS THAT AN EXPERIENCE YOU ENJOYED AND WHICH WAS YOUR MOST MEMORABLE LOCATION?

That is part of the rich tapestry of what you join because you get to go to amazing places and see amazing things. I visited 50 countries, including some challenging and remote places which not many people get to visit. If I had to choose just one place, I would have to say Norway. It was quite a serious place to train, very low temperatures which meant if something was to go wrong then the outcomes would be extreme; that brought about real teamwork and made for an outstanding experience.

WHY DID YOU DECIDE TO CHANGE CAREERS?

You have to leave the Army by the age of 55 which is an odd age. It was important for me to have a second career rather than just a job so I left at an age that would enable me to add value for my employer. I had also had a fabulous career and wanted to leave on a high.

WHERE WAS YOUR FIRST APPOINTMENT AND WHAT WAS YOUR ROLE?

I went to Durham University as Pro-Vice-Chancellor. I was responsible for everything that was not educational research. I looked after the 16 Colleges and the student support services as well the sport, music, drama and volunteering provisions for 18,000 students. Being on the board, working with world leading academics and representing the student body was certainly challenging but finding the harmony and creating success was rewarding.

WHAT WAS IT ABOUT THE EDUCATION SECTOR, AND SUBSEQUENTLY BRADFIELD, THAT APPEALED TO YOU?

I had always loved training and providing education and skills to the next generation. Not being a qualified teacher meant knowing I would find myself in an enabling role and Durham was perfect, as is Bradfield. Facilitating an environment to help the staff flourish as they bring through the next generations is a wonderful opportunity.

Truth be told I had not heard of Bradfield College beforehand but as soon I came to have a look around, the environment really sold itself. It is very inclusive and personal, I truly believe in the College’s approach to an education for life and I enjoy the view that every pupil here is an individual.

WHAT HAS YOUR EXPERIENCE BEEN LIKE SINCE ARRIVING IN MARCH?

I feel I have settled quickly although I am learning lots everyday as I go through my first full academic year. What has struck me is the passion and commitment of the Senior Management Team and the teaching staff as well as the quality of the operational staff, all of whom are highly motivated and capable people. That is quite rare and exciting as it means I am able to focus on planning for the future of the College.

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