A blog from Army&You’s winter 2023/24 edition by Julia Barr

Military life can be challenging when it comes to meaningful spousal employment – military bases aren’t always in areas with easy connections to nearby towns or cities, and childcare is often tricky.

In my case, I’m married to an army officer who serves unaccompanied in Yorkshire, while we live on the west coast of Scotland in our own home. We are lucky that our three children attend a fantastic school and nursery where they have many good friends.

I have a full-time role in engineering consultancy Mott MacDonald. Having joined what I thought was ‘just another little admin role’, I gained a good rapport with our clients and was promoted to assistant project manager.

I had a mentoring opportunity with one of our commercial directors, who saw the potential in my background and skills (a law degree and good analytical ability) and created a commercial management role for me within our energy unit.

I managed to turn this developmental role into an essential one, as it speaks directly to what I enjoy doing and what I am good at, a rarity where spousal employment is concerned! I’ve been promoted once in this role and am on track to do so again in the not-too-distant future.

It’s safe to say I am in demand, which is actually a great feeling and a real confidence booster. However, balancing a busy working life and a home life where I’m often solo parenting can be tricky. I’m incredibly fortunate that my employer takes its wider Defence Employer Recognition Scheme commitments seriously.

I also have the freedom to work from wherever’s convenient: our Glasgow office, the local Military Coworking Hub (great for meeting fellow working military parents and having a mutual moan!) or at home when the chores have built up.

I decide whether or how much I feel able to work if one of the children is unwell. This flexible approach means that ‘mum guilt’ is minimal and knowing that I can be me and develop my career alongside raising a family is fantastic.

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