Graham Allison Life After Service
Life after service

Former Navy Officer To High-Ranking Amazon Manager

Learn about the skills Graham Allison took from the Navy to business

Graham Allison Life After Service

After gaining a degree in Artificial Intelligence and Computer Science, Graham Allison joined the Royal Navy.

Taking a very different direction to many of his fellow students, Graham was looking for a life full of challenges, and to create stories he could: 

“Tell his grandchildren."

The military certainly didn’t disappoint. 

Graham joined the Navy in 2006 as a warfare officer cadet. He left after five and half years, which were spent mostly at sea, as a lieutenant.

He said: “It was great for me – I was a much stronger person coming out than going in. I made great friends, collected a bunch of skills, and it really set me up for life outside.”

Eventually, Graham reached a natural crossroads.

Driven by the desire to spend more time with this family, he opted to leave the Navy.

However, with no idea of his next move, he used the military long notice period to explore the possibilities.

In the end, Graham decided to continue his education and signed up to for a Masters degree.

Thanks to his Navy career, his studies were funded by a Leadership Scholarship for the University of Edinburgh Business School.

The Perfect Job

Whilst at university, he found the perfect job with Amazon, who hire a lot of people from the military.

Graham has been with the global retailer for seven years now, and was promoted to a general manager for two fulfilment centres in Scotland in 2018.

Graham’s military experience helped him clinch the director-level job, which has responsibility for 1.1 million square feet of warehouse space and up to 3,000 staff.

From assessing production targets to hosting businesses that sell on Amazon, Graham is constantly busy.

One of the biggest challenges is figuring out a way of dealing with Amazon’s rapid growth and development.

Military Experience Is Immeasurable

Using skills from the Navy, such as speedy problem-solving, Graham acknowledges that many military skills are taken for granted by veterans, yet they’re vital in business. He added:

“There are some simple skills, like looking at the career development of your team, using Excel properly, public speaking, or giving a concise briefing; getting that right is really important. And it's a skill that most [military] people have in spades.”

Resilience is another key quality. Graham explains:

“You understand what is ‘difficult’. The commercial world isn’t ‘military difficult’.

"You have your challenges, but you always go home to your own beds, you can eat whatever you want, you know, you're not physically tired from facing danger.”

It’s a perspective that only someone who’s served in the Armed Forces can have.

Graham is very proud of his veteran status and enjoys recruiting other veterans whose skillset and ethos he greatly values. Despite this, he’s still struggling to explain his many naval sayings to some of his colleagues. 

This story is part of Life After Service, a week-long campaign where BFBS will be running positive stories about ex-service people across all its media channels.