After almost 15 years in the Danish Defence, Jakob was ready to pursue a different career path. Today, he helps some of Deloitte’s key clients become more resilient to cyber attacks and believes the military has provided him with invaluable competencies that he now uses as a consultant and team leader.
With many years of experience as an officer and a deployment in Afghanistan, Jakob Holst Christoffersen has dedicated a big part of his adult life to the military.
While being proud to serve his country, he also realised that he did not want to spend the rest of his working life in the military. But how do you transition from soldier to civilian? By sharing his story, Jakob hopes to inspire both veterans and companies.
“I have always been driven by doing something for society. I realised back in 2019 that the biggest threat to our society is no longer found in a desert far away. Rather, it is the threat of being attacked on our digital infrastructure – something we are reliant on as a highly digitised society.”
With that in mind, and as the pandemic hit, Jakob began to train himself in cyber security by taking online courses. He found out that the Danish Defence collaborated with Deloitte on cyber security and thus reached out to Deloitte and got connected to a partner in the Risk Advisory business unit, where he now works.
Jakob acknowledges that the transition from the military to civil work life can be challenging. That is why he enjoys using his own experience to help other veterans convert their military competencies into valuable skills for companies through the initiative VELKOMMEN HJEM, which Deloitte partners with.
VELKOMMEN HJEM is driven by a number of private companies who support veterans in the transition from the military to civil work life by providing mentors. These mentors help veterans discover areas of interest and use their network to connect them to individuals from the business community.
“Veterans rarely have experience within economy, political theory or other academic fields. However, they possess important professional competencies formed by an operative environment, where the consequences of one’s actions can be fatal. Through VELKOMMEN HJEM, we help them discover where those competencies fit in and where their interests lie.”
Combining competencies from the military and consulting
Today, Jakob is a team lead in Deloitte Cyber Risk where he helps key clients enable their organisations to anticipate, withstand, recover from, and adapt to adverse conditions such as a ransomware attack – an incident where cybercriminals typically gain access to systems and encrypt valuable data and subsequently demand a ransom to decrypt them.
“I enjoy working with cyber security because it is all about ensuring resilience of often critical infrastructure, which essentially helps society stay up and running. With what is going on in the world right now, most people and organisations have realised the importance of being resilient when it comes to cyber security, which makes my job even more interesting.”
In his job, he makes great use of the competencies he has acquired from his time in the military as well as the skills he had to learn when he entered a new industry.
“Most of my practical skills within cyber security were acquired after I started my job at Deloitte. Thanks to my competent colleagues at all levels, I was able to move from the military world to the consulting world quite hassle-free.”
Jakob believes being part of the military provides many invaluable competencies that can be used in most civil jobs.
“In my experience, veterans are extremely good at collaborating because they are team players. As a soldier, your abilities, values and beliefs are shaped by the nature of warfare, where you potentially are deployed in a high-risk environment for several months at a time. You are 100 percent dependent on your team and your team is dependent on you, which means that everyone must know their exact role in a given task and all action must be coordinated in detail – even your most basic needs such as sleeping or eating.”
He also wants to send out a clear message to companies that hiring veterans can benefit both business and diversity:
“Companies that truly care about diversity should consider hiring veterans. Many former soldiers have a lot to offer and often perform really well in private companies. They bring a different mindset and inputs that can benefit teams as well as projects.”
Personally, Jakob has received good feedback several times on some of the competencies he acquired as an officer.
“I often get a positive response to my ability to collaborate and communicate a message credibly. That stems from my experience as an officer, where you are trained to handle the scenario of needing full support from your team to execute a military operation with a chance that not everyone will come back home again.”
He has experienced first-hand that, although veterans have a very different background than the majority of new hires in private companies, they often end up having great success in those jobs.
“The general perception is that soldiers come from a different world. In some ways that is true, but there are many aspects under the surface that make veterans positive contributions to private companies.”
Maintaining the connection to the military
Although Jakob no longer dedicates his full work life to the Danish Defence, he is still affiliated with the military through his five annual veteran days – something Deloitte offers to veterans each year to maintain their connection to the military.
“I spend the five days maintaining the competencies I gained in the military, such as those that enable me to support the Danish security forces during national emergencies. I also use them to network and create synergies between the private and public sector, because I believe building a bridge between the two is key to a safe society.”
He also believes the military shapes you as a person and is thankful for the opportunity to nurture his sense of belonging to the institution.
“Being part of the military shapes you fundamentally. I, at least, have now realised that it is a big part of my identity, and that it is important for me to stay true to that identity – even though I left the military behind as a profession. I am happy Deloitte offers the possibility to do so.”