AFTER many years of living and working in the UK, I don’t always see being French as my most defining character trait – although, I suppose, it has influenced the way I have dealt with things in the 20 years since my husband and I were married, writes Edith Wilkinson.
I expect that being uprooted from my home town in Montpellier in the south of France has made me realise how important it is to be independent and able to function on my own. As a result, a working life has always been an essential part of my identity.
My first job was with the European Parliament as a researcher. Despite efforts to keep the job going through long-distance commuting – between Tidworth and Brussels – I eventually gave it up. I resigned myself to the nomadic Army lifestyle for 10 years and took on jobs when and where I could.
This was great as it exposed me to many different professional environments and all kinds of people.
Building a career
When we were posted near Shrivenham a second time around, I contacted Cranfield University for whom I had worked in the past and I was hired again.
However, last year we heard the news that our next posting would be in France. At first, I was happy to go back to my homeland, but I also realised how much my job meant to me and that I had built a career in the UK that I was now very reluctant to relinquish.
I initially contacted my line manager to discuss the feasibility of distance working. One of my friends working at AFF also told me about the Armed Forces Covenant.
My application for remote working arrangements could not have been timelier – my employer was keen to demonstrate its support to the Armed Forces community and had signed the Covenant. My application was successful and I shall be able to accompany my husband to an overseas appointment and retain my job.
I am hugely relieved and greatly appreciative of what has been a wholly positive outcome. I feel that the new arrangement will benefit both me and the university and I feel valued.
Safe in the knowledge that my own aspirations have been recognised and that my desire for a professional life has been taken into account, I now just have the small task of packing up the house and moving to France for a new adventure.