Cyber Success Story: Former Military Policeman making his mark in Santander


Are you ex-military and looking at Financial Crime as your next career move? Be inspired by our case study with former Military Policeman, Tawanda Tahwa who successfully completed SaluteMyJob, IBM and the Corsham Institutes i2 training course - and is now making his mark with one of the world’s leading banks as a Transaction Monitoring Analyst.

Military Career: The Highlights

Tawanda’s military career has taken him all over the world. He has a number of career highlights, which include working in Canada and Kenya. In Canada, he delivered training for prisoners-of-war handling techniques to large operational units that were part of an operational group consisting of 1000+ military personnel. The former Military Policeman added: “I also assisted Kenyan authorities in handling a very serious incident involving fatalities of foreign nationals by forming an extempore communication process for all stakeholders and ensured that the relevant diplomatic missions were promptly engaged. In addition, I had the opportunity to work on high level investigations whilst working with the Special Investigations Branch in the UK.”

Transitioning: ‘Getting over the starting blocks’

The main challenge of transitioning into civilian employment was applying for jobs in an industry, for which Tawanda had no direct skills or experience. He said: “Although I had a number of transferable skills from my time in the military and investigative experience from the Military Police, I found it hard to get over the starting blocks when up against others who had industry experience.” However, Tawanda overcame the challenges by selling his transferable skills on his CV and demonstrating in interviews the value of those transferable skills.

Tawanda had been interested in pursuing the financial sector for a long time “due to its diverse and progressive nature”. He explained: “Due to my background in investigative journalism and also my role as a Military Policeman, my sole aim was to land a role that has an investigative element to it. The financial services industry is diverse, spanning a broad variety of different sectors. I could not think of any sector that could utilise my analytical rigour any better.  The skills I have gained within the military are suited to several roles in the financial sector. For example, my organisational and leadership skills I gained as a team leader, can see me thrive in a role like project management. Roles in the British Army require constant risk management, so a role in Risk Management will suit me and any other person in the Armed Forces.”

Training: IBM’s i2 analyst training course

The IBM i2 analyst training course was recommended to Tawanda by an ex-colleague in the British Army. He said he would “highly recommend” the course to his peers. “The course allowed me to harness my analytical skills and learn new ways at looking at data and building an intelligent picture. The fact that it is on my CV, it has helped during interviews as many employers use it. Even though I do not use it in my current role, I use what I learned from it when looking at a huge amount data. I highly recommend it as it enhances the way employers view you and improves the way you do your job.”

Santander: Utilising military skills

SaluteMyJob was on hand to help Tawanda at the very start of his resettlement, providing him with tailored CV advice, on-going support during his interview and through us, he found his current role. After excelling in his first interview, during his second interview, he was given the opportunity to showcase his transferable skills and demonstrate how they are related to the role. “All the interviewers were very professional and keen to find out about my military experience and skills acquired, so that gave me the confidence to use everything I learned in the military. I received an offer a few days later.”

As an investigator within the Military Police, Tawanda’s role was primarily investigating reported incidents - and in his current role, he analyses transactions that poses a risk to Santander. “The method of investigation/analysis is very similar, in terms of establishing facts. Collaboration within the team in solving complex investigations reminds me of my time with the Military Police or when I was working with other regiments in Armed Forces. Whilst in the military, I gained among many, communications skills, analytical skills, problem solving skills and teamwork. I have found these skills particularly valuable to my current role and has been crucial to my adaption.”

The Role: Transaction Monitoring Analyst

As a Transaction Monitoring Analyst, Tawanda supports the Financial Crime Operations Team by analysing alerts for potential suspicious activity in relation to Money Laundering and Terrorist Financing. He believes ex-military people are well suited to the role - and Santander as a company. He explains: “For a start, Santander values are closely aligned to the British Army values. Ex-military personnel are suited to roles at Santander as they can demonstrate these values and also possess sought after skills like leadership skills, organisational skills, teamwork skills, problem solving skills and can adapt to any situation. My role requires a constant risk-based approach and that is something ingrained in every military personnel. The fact that I thrive working both as a team or alone, has helped greatly in adapting into my team.”

Advice: Looking to work in Financial Crime?

Finally, Tawanda offers this valuable advice to other ex-military people looking for work in cyber crime: “I recommend anyone wishing to pursue a career in cyber crime or any other field, to build a network of experienced professionals who can give them the guidance they need. There are many ex-military personnel working in those fields, willing to mentor people and can take a solution-oriented approach in helping people achieve their goals. Research is crucial, knowing what sort of experience the employers are looking for and the sort of courses they like to see on CV’s. It is crucial that your CV is scrutinised by as many people as possible, every advice you can get will contribute to the development of that document. A good CV will open doors that remain closed for many. Santander empowers and rewards people who work hard and demonstrate the right behaviours, so I can see a lot of ex-military excelling in this company.”

You can find out more about our free cyber training courses here and to read Tawanda’s manger’s case study, click here.