After more than nine years of service in the British Army, Jonathan Emery decided to apply for the GE Aviation Military Officer Leadership Programme (MOLP).

Just three years later, he’s a finalist in the Rising Star category of the British Ex-Forces in Business Awards. These awards recognize veterans who have shifted careers, celebrating the value they bring to business and companies that support career transitions.

“It’s a great honor, and it’s still a bit crazy to think about,” he said. “I hope this brings attention to the great work that’s happening with GE Aviation here in the UK.”

Jonathan currently works as the Mature Fleet Sales & Leasing Director for GE Aviation Materials, but his road to the industry was unique in that he didn’t have much previous aviation experience. GE Aviation’s MOLP helped him transition from being a successful military officer to a successful commercial industry leader.

“GE Aviation provided a great opportunity to build on the skills I’d gained in the military, and the structure of the MOLP meant a lack of commercial experience wasn’t a factor – something that had seen me outcompeted for other roles. I found an employer that really valued military experience and people leadership ability,” he said. “With GE Aviation, I was able to fill in gaps in my knowledge where needed while utilizing the skills I already had.”

His manager, Lee Whitehurst, said that Jonathan takes his role very seriously, and the pride that he takes in his work is inspirational. “During my first meeting with Jonathan, I knew I was going to hire him,” Whitehurst said. “Once the child in me had stopped asking him excited questions about tanks, we quickly got to it, and I knew he would be a perfect fit for business and how right I was.”

Though being a finalist is a significant honor, he said some of the most rewarding aspects of his job come from solving problems effectively. “Sales can sometimes have a bad reputation amongst service leaders, but I see it as a role where you can help people achieve their goals. My favorite parts of the job are when a customer comes to me with a problem, and we are able to work together to create a solution.”

Jonathan was nominated by his friend and fellow veteran, Peter Eadon, one of many valuable relationships he made in his career journey. He recognizes that he wouldn’t be where he was without the personal and professional connections he’s made along the way. If he could give any advice to those looking to build their career, it would be that networking is integral to building a career in any field. For service leavers, he would recommend “seeking help and advice early, as well as really working out what you want from a role.”

Before joining the military, Jonathan studied architecture at Oxford Brookes University, followed by a year of training with the Royal Military Academy Sandhurst. In addition to his current role with GE, he serves as an active officer in the Army Reserves, serving with the Royal Wessex Yeomanry. In September, he will assume a Company Command appointment with Oxford University Officer Training Corps, a role quite significant to him as his military journey began as a cadet for the OUOTC.

Emery is also helping reach the next generation of the GE Aviation MOLP with the Officers’ Association, making sure that officers continue to have smooth transitions into the next phase of their career. He works with applicants to refine their CVs and prepare for interviews so that they have a good chance of success in getting into the program.

The Military Officer Leadership Program is currently taking applications for the next group looking to build their career with the Avionics, Power and Propeller Systems teams. Applications are being accepted for programs in both the U.S. and United Kingdom. Throughout the program, participants will use their expertise and experience to execute business objectives, assist in sales campaigns, lead a multi-disciplinary project team, and other complete other job-related tasks to develop solid business and engineering leadership skills.

Top: Jonathan Emery in his photo for the British Ex-Forces in Business Awards Above: Jonathan (left) being presented The Earl of Wessex Squadron Trophy for the best performing squadron in the Regiment by HRH Prince Edward