Veterans

British Ex-Forces In Business: Gillian Russell

After her Naval career, Gillian Russell set up a military hiring programme at a global giant, and changed their reservists' policy.

WATCH: Who is Gillian Russell?

Gillian Russell is the face of Military Hiring at Amazon EU.

It’s a concept she relished bringing to the global online shopping giant, and one she passionately believes more companies should be considering.

Having served in the Royal Navy for 18 years, she is able to impart a wealth of experience and knowledge to Amazon’s hiring and recruitment managers that helps them recognise the value in veterans.

Gillian said: “I had a fantastic career in the Navy. Looking back, I enjoyed every single minute of it.

 “Military leadership and management training is fundamental to how we do our business here.

“Dealing with people, dealing with ambiguity, earning trust, looking at something and not walking past.

“Realising that ownership of a process is really important.”

The ex-Logistics Officer, who served on board HMS Invincible as well as Fearless and Nottingham, is a finalist in this year’s British Ex-Forces In Business Awards.

The ceremony, now in its second year, celebrates the successes of former service personnel who have gone above and beyond in their post-uniform careers.

Eighteen awards will be given out on May 8, at London Hilton on Park Lane.

For her work in making sure Amazon has the right attitude towards veterans, Gillian is up for a gong in the Advocate Of The Year category. 

WATCH: Gillian Russell on being a finalist

Gillian has brought more to the table than her Military 101 training.

She helped to develop Military @ Amazon Insight Days – where Forces leavers are taken behind the scenes to see what the company’s operations are like.

Perhaps even more vitally, they get to see where their own skillsets would fit in.

She is hoping that her military hiring concept will spread beyond Amazon’s shores.

WATCH: What else is she up to? 

Gillian hasn’t just revolutionised the way for regulars.

On discovering that Amazon was not offering paid leave for reservists while they completed their basic training, she set about changing this too.

She said: “Reservists form a huge part of the nation’s defence, and they’re really important to employers.

“They have the same skills that we have in people who are leaving the service.

“Reservists have got just as much training.”

The change came swiftly after she wrote and presented a paper to the UK Head of Business, explaining how it would benefit both sides.

Gillian continued: “It means we become more attractive to people who are in the Reserves.

“And second, we get those employees who have got reserve service actually coming to work for us.

 “I think the reason why we hadn’t had paid time off for reservists is because we hadn’t asked the question.

“This is the thing about Amazon. You find something, you don’t walk past.

 “If there’s no reason to not do it, then we just go ahead and do it.”

Gillian’s finalist status at the British Ex-Forces In Business Awards is one of three for Amazon, who are also up for Employer of the Year.

She also has a colleague in the Reservist of the Year category.

She gave a final message about why awards like these are so important.

WATCH: Why the British Ex-Forces In Business Awards matter
  • Gillian Russell is a finalist in the Advocate Of The Year category at the British Ex-Forces In Business Awards on May 8.
The British Ex-Forces in Business Awards are sponsored by CBRE, FDM Group, Kuehne + Nagel, Galliford Try, Lloyd's of London, the Officers' Association, NTT Data, Santander, Savills, Sopra Steria and Standard Life Aberdeen.
Other supporters include BFBS, Forces Recruitment Services, RFEA – The Forces Employment Charity, SaluteMyJob, the White Ensign Association and other media partners Quest Magazine and RealBusiness.co.uk.