When it comes to juggling business and Army life, mum-of-four Christine Dedman is a bit of a marvel. And the good news is she spends her working time enabling other military spouses and partners to set up their own companies and share their expertise…
LIKE so many Service spouses, Christine (pictured above) had to get over the mild shock of being a newlywed in Germany 17 years ago, leaving behind a promising job and her London apartment.
But, as she explained, it wasn’t long before she found work: “As an excitable 20-something I made my way to the ‘dependants’ job office’ and applied for a role which set me on my career path in marketing.”
Until five years ago, Christine was able to secure work with relative ease, but on moving to a remote posting in the north west, the bubble burst.
“My husband deployed so I decided to wait until his return to apply for work, only to be short-toured and moved south within the year,” she said. “This is when I hit a low. Childcare was hugely expensive for my youngest and the school run took an hour. I needed flexibility with work, but found my options limited.”
Christine decided to try freelancing and signed up for the University of Wolverhampton’s business start-up programme for entitled military family members. With her comms hat on, she felt the university could take the programme on the road to make it more widely accessible, and she became involved with promoting it.
She said: “It was from here that I began championing business start-up in the Armed Forces community. I’ve since seen more than 700 Service family members set up in business spanning every sector and trade.”
Running joint projects with talented freelancers also gave Christine the idea to start the Forces Enterprise Network (FEN), which aims to provide marketing and PR services delivered by a team of specialists from the military community.
“I wanted others to access the same support and opportunities I had,” she explained. “We now have a Facebook page and we are building on-the-ground networking groups in garrisons.
“Becoming self-employed means I can work wherever we’re posted and support my family. Importantly I feel part of a team; we motivate and support each other and I hope that the FEN will continue to provide access to networking, employment and training opportunities for those juggling the challenges of Service life.”