Hi! My name is Ben Lolley and I work in Projects and Programme Delivery (PPD) at DIO HQ, Sutton Coldfield. On a daily basis I am responsible for developing DIO’s capital projects delivery processes and managing a team that provides a number of project support functions such as IT, business intelligence and training.
I’m also a Lieutenant Media Operations Specialist in the Royal Naval Reserve (RNR) and have been for about 12 months. In my Reserve role I provide media and communications expertise, on behalf of the Navy, to warships, land units and headquarters, alongside my regular service colleagues, on exercises and operations both at home and overseas.
I first considered joining the Reserve Forces not long after I joined DIO in February 2016. I had not long left the RAF and was beginning to miss the camaraderie, adventure and other opportunities that only the military provides. Having served in the RAF for just shy of eight years I decided that I wanted to try something a little different so I began to do some research on the other Forces.
From the start I naturally gravitated more toward the Navy (although I’m not sure why as I’d never been to sea!!!). I decided to approach some of my former Navy colleagues to try and get a sense of whether it was really for me… After hearing story after story about life as a ‘Matelot’, including a number of ‘dits’ about epic ‘Run Ashores’, I was hooked, and decided to pursue my second military career.
A few months later – I had a new uniform, a new cap badge, and a new ID card; herein commenced my Naval career!
The past 12 months have been filled with non-stop amazing experiences. I have been lucky enough to set foot on HMS Queen Elizabeth (the new aircraft carrier), have been to sea on numerous warships from coalition nations, have been to Cyprus to support a large weapons training exercise and will shortly be heading off to the Gulf for two months in support of maritime security operations. Every time I put on the uniform I see and learn something new; I can honestly say it’s one of the best decisions I’ve ever made.
Being in the RNR allows me to see what we do in DIO from multiple perspectives; I can understand and justify issues we sometimes face when managing and delivering across the Defence estate, but can also understand the needs of the from line command (FLC) customer – especially when that need impacts on people or capabilities. I use this perspective to not only aid my own decision making, but also to assist those around me that may not have had the exposure I have had to the forces.
Above this, the unique leadership opportunities that the Reserve Forces present allow me to develop my management style at work so that I can operate better under pressure, whilst more effectively balancing the needs of a task, my team as a whole and my team as individuals.
I am also fortunate enough to currently be DIO’s Reserve Forces Advocate. Reserve Forces Advocates were established earlier this year to provide a focal point within the organisation for DIO staff to ask questions about life as a reservist, to learn about recruitment processes and to ask more general questions about the forces.
I want to create a network of DIO staff that are interested in joining the reserves, as well as those that are already serving reservists, in order to encourage people to ask questions about our Reserve Forces and to share individual experiences. If you fit either of those categories and would like to know more or get involved then please get in touch at DIO-ReserveForcesAdvocate@mod.uk