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7 March 2023

Shining a Light on Diversity and Inclusivity

Fran Zenati talks about her experience of creating high performing teams

It might not have been until 2018 that women were able to serve in all combat roles alongside male colleagues but the unofficial yet crucial role that women played in the British Army dates back long before that.

It was 1855 when Florence Nightingale went to the Crimea with her nurses to care for the wounded. Known as the lady with the lamp, her work there set the standards for modern nursing and has since inspired women from many different backgrounds to pursue a medical career and/or sign up for military service including 36 year-old Fran Zenati from Swansea.

Fran was just 19 years old when she first joined HM Forces in 2005 as a first aid medic based in Germany. She quickly progressed from civilian to soldier training instructor before becoming medical practice team lead responsible for a busy practice in charge of delivering training to a unit of over 1000 soldiers. By the time she left the British Army in February 2017 at the age of 31, she was the most operationally experienced combat medic, responsible for the medical service and support of 550 infantry soldiers. That included ensuring that the soldiers were capable of carrying out life-saving drills on the front line.

Fran served on tours in Iraq and Afghanistan during 12 years of service with the Army and made her way to the top 10% of the British Army enabling her to become a section commander for a phase one establishment. Her work training new recruits resulted in a leadership award for most inspirational leader . She was also awarded the DZ Award For Bravery after the military vehicle she was travelling in with colleagues was blown up. Ignoring her own injuries, she treated those around her in a more critical condition.

It's an experience that will stay with Fran forever yet making the transition from the front line in Iraq and Afghanistan to the corporate world of learning and development has been surprisingly easy. And she says that is for one reason:

“It’s all about values. An organisation’s values lay the foundation for what the company cares about most – they are your guiding principles. As a front line medic with the army, it wasn’t just about survival. Courage, discipline, respect, integrity, loyalty and selfless commitment were the values that that we all lived by. That’s what gave us our sense of purpose. In the world of business, well-defined values should be the bedrock of why all organisations exists because strong values result in better decision making and ultimate success.”

As Head of Business Solutions for Call of the Wild, Fran now uses her experience on the front-line to deliver award winning management training, leadership development, team building and coaching. Back home on the outskirts of Swansea, the ex-military medic and instructor has also adopted young twins.

Fran continues:

“After 12 years with the military you get used to a family feel and strong values which is why I took the time to find the right employer after I left the forces. It really helped me to make the transition from the front line to the job that I now do – culture is everything. We’re really proud of our culture at Call of the Wild and the work that we do with our clients to help them to ensure that their values are understood and embedded throughout the organisation.

“Adding value and helping people have always been my drivers but it is the army that made me. I left the army with a mindset that is irreversible. I’m a team player. I care about people and I enjoy the sense of comradery. That was important to me when choosing what to do in the outside world.

“With a 73 acre training centre in the Brecon Beacons National Park, our purpose is to create positive behavioural change within the workplace, which delivers lasting results and a real return on investment. And just like life in the army, we’ve got a one team ethos with shared values and common goals. I couldn’t be happier.”


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