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Published: July 28, 2020 | Updated: July 28, 2020

“I’m just astounded” says Matt after making it to final of British Ex-Forces in Business Awards

Matt King, a finalist in the Business Leader of the Year (SME) category of the 2020 British Ex-Forces in Business.
By Andrew Diprose, editor

“I am just astounded that I have been recognised – I actually have no words to describe it.”

The reaction of former army corporal Matt King after hearing that he’d been selected as a finalist in the Business Leader of the Year (SME) category of the 2020 British Ex-Forces in Business Awards.

Billed as the world’s largest celebration of military veterans in second careers, the winners of the third annual UK awards will be revealed at a glittering ceremony at the Grosvenor House Hotel on London’s Park Lane in October.

Matt, 39, is General Manager for the UK, US and Ireland at Poole-based Safi Valves.

A profile on Dorset Biz News in February described Matt as living proof that you can take life by the scruff of its neck and change your destiny.

He joined the British Army at the age of 16, serving as a telecommunications engineer in The Royal Corps of Signals, and rising to the rank of Corporal before leaving in 2005.

Then, aged 24, he did a succession of jobs, including electrician, water and ventilation consultant and engineer, before he suddenly found he could sell.

Roles as Business Development Manager and then Sales Manager at Goodwater, the water treatment and hygiene specialist, eventually led to his current position at Safi Valves.

The father of four, who successfully launched ‘SalesChange – The Podcast’ earlier this year, said the awards would be a first for him.

He added: “I’m looking forward to enjoying the awards evening in October and seeing all the other fantastic nominees and award winners.

“It’s the first business award I’ve ever been nominated for so it’s nice but also feels strange.”

Since launching in 2018, the Ex-Forces in Business Awards has played a key role in promoting veterans as great assets to employers across all sectors.

It has also led the way in increasing visibility of business role models for service leavers.

Last year, the awards showcased the second-career achievements of nearly 300 veterans and reservists at ceremonies in London and Glasgow attended by more than 1,400 business leaders and over 450 employers.

The awards ceremony gathers business leaders, veterans, top employers, current serving officers, politicians, journalists and other stakeholders to highlight the significant value that ex-military add to the UK economy.

This year’s award ceremony will be hosted by BBC, ITV and Sky Sports presenter Jacqui Oatley MBE and BBC correspondent Frank Gardner OBE, a former Army Major.

It will feature a keynote address from double Olympic champion rower Major Heather Stanning OBE.

The 2020 finalists were whittled down from a record-breaking 500 nominations, with the winners decided by a judging panel of military veterans headed up by Admiral Sir George Zambellas, former First Sea Lord and now chairman of several companies including Galaxkey.

Other judges facing the difficult task of selecting just 20 winners include business leaders from Jaguar Land Rover, Morgan Stanley, Dell, Lloyds Banking Group, Serco, Stagecoach, Thales and Knight Frank.

The thousands of servicemen and women who leave the Armed Forces each year create a pool of talent for employers, underpinned by skills and values that easily transfer into a wide spectrum of roles.

But transitioning back to civilian life and establishing a meaningful second career can be challenging.

Visibility of role models across different sectors is often lacking, and it’s felt that depictions of veterans in the media can fuel damaging misconceptions.

In a study by SSAFA, the Armed Forces charity, three in ten UK hirers said they’d feel reluctant to hire someone who served in the military.

The awards are organised by Disruptive Media Group.

They are sponsored by A&P Group, Barratt Developments, FDM Group, Galliford Try, Marsh, Morrison Utility Services, Santander and Sopra Steria.

Other supporters include the Officers’ Association, RFEA – The Forces Employment Charity, SaluteMyJob, the White Ensign Association and media partners Quest, BFBS and Real Business.

Last year’s events raised more than £60,000 for military charities.