FORMER army captain turned business coach Steve Gaskell has scooped a national award for his successful transition from the services to civvy street. The 47-year-old left his army career to set up his ActionCOACH business coaching franchise which has built a strong client base and is helping other businesses achieve success across Devon.
Now Steve has been honoured in the inaugural Nationwide Resettlement Awards as Franchisee of the Year 2015, beating two other category finalists. He was presented with his award at a glittering black tie event held at Hotel Football in Manchester by TV presenter Bill Turnbull.
Due to demand, his ActionCOACH business has recently moved into spacious offices where he can offer one-to-one coaching or group sessions. Delighted Steve said: “The business has just gone from strength to strength. I have to pinch myself from time to time. It’s hard work but I am proud of what has been achieved and we have some exciting plans for 2016.”
Run by Pathfinder International, the organisation which helps military resettlement with careers and training, and Nationwide, the awards recognise the achievements of service leavers who have successfully progressed to life as a civilian. Michael Brash, editor of Pathfinder International magazine, said: “It is important we celebrate the achievements of service leavers during resettlement which can often be a challenging time and daunting process.”
Steve joined the army in 1985 and 22 years later became the Regimental Sergeant Major of the Princess of Wales’s Royal Regiment, ending his career as a commissioned captain. Having served in Northern Ireland, Bosnia, Iraq and Afghanistan, his final posting was as the Welfare Officer at Royal Artillery Barracks, Woolwich in London, looking after 720 soldiers and 264 families. During that time, as well as having to contend with the national riots, he was in charge of welfare when Fusilier Lee Rigby was murdered, right outside the barracks.
In the run up to leaving the army, Steve carried out extensive research into what to do and kept coming back to ActionCOACH which he had seen advertised in Pathfinder magazine. He explained: “I went to the franchise centre and met the team and things fell into place. I spent 18 months on research but kept coming back to ActionCOACH.”
He left the army in August 2013 and began training with ActionCOACH in September: “I had done some tough courses in the military, attempting SAS selection was by far the hardest, most challenging and best. ActionCOACH training has been the second best training I have ever done. It was life changing.”
Sadly, while training, Steve received the devastating news that his father had been diagnosed with a brain tumour and he died just a month later. His fellow trainees were a huge support: “It was remarkable in terms of their support, and I hardly knew these people.”
The franchise got up and running and Steve is now one of 130 coaches in the UK. He firmly believes that ex-military personnel are highly qualified for life outside the services. He explained: “I bring all my military experience to my business and all former service people have massively transferable skills. From logistics to HR, sytemisation to team building, E&D to H&S , I have had to save money on budgets, worked under pressure, manage and lead on operations and home based. I really value these skills that military personnel have but I don’t think they necessarily have a concept of that value.”
It’s clear why the judges thought Steve was a worthy consideration for the award. In his first year he surpassed his client goals, made a profit and saw the results that his work with clients could achieve. Those clients have remained with him as he nears the end of year two with his ActionCOACH business. He now has a great client base, having helped to create over 30 new jobs, increased revenue by as much as 44% in his clients’ businesses and allowed them to gain significant time efficiencies.
“I can’t express the feeling one gets when a client highlights the impact of being able to spend quality time in their personal and family pursuits,” added Steve.
Steve also paid tribute to his wife of 25 years, Sam, for the support she has given him through their married life. He said: “It sounds like a cliche but none of this would have been possible without her unbelievable support. Sam has been my rock, looking after our family during my absence on deployment, always placing her needs second and always there for me and the kids.”
Steve’s 21-year-old son Quinn is also working in the business as a new business development manager. Daughter Pheobe, 17, is possibly thinking of a career in the armed forces, following in her dad’s footsteps.