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Before joining Co-op, I spent 12 years as a police officer - roughly 6 years in uniform and 6 years in CID. As the years went by, the hours got longer, the opportunities dried up, and the frustration set in. I enjoyed helping the vulnerable and felt I did a lot of good, but the job was impacting my wellbeing and relationships with my family.

Building a new career

I made the decision to plan my exit. I spoke to friends and family, did a lot of thinking, and was recommended to look at project management. I saw that a lot of the skills needed were very similar, such as planning, stakeholder management, risk assessment, skilled communication, and leadership. 

I decided it was for me and started an IT Degree with the Open University, self-funded via a student loan. I also self-funded the Prince2 project management course by cashing in a couple of investments I had.

Learning new skills

I spent time volunteering in a local school’s IT department on my days off, rebuilding computers to get as much IT experience on my CV as possible. It was all about making myself an attractive option to a potential employer, as I didn’t have a ‘traditional’ route into project management. A lot of the skills I learned as a police officer I’ve found have been transferrable, I just had to learn to implement them in a different environment.

It was tough for a couple of years being a full-time police officer, a father, a husband, and studying at the same time. But I was determined that it was the right thing for me and my family. 

My new role as a Project Manager

While I was on my Prince2 course I made some connections that helped me get my first role as a project manager. Within a year I was promoted and was managing the team. 2 years later I made the move to the Co-op. 

Since day one at Co-op, I have never looked back. I learn new things with every project, meet new people and feel valued by my colleagues. I feel that I’m able to make a good contribution within an ethical and public-spirited organisation. 

I have a great work-life balance and flexible working hours have changed my life. I get to spend more quality time with my family, I’m always home for Christmas and their birthdays, and I get to be the father I always wanted to be.

Dominic Orlando
Project Manager