Emma is like a superhero; you could find her looking glam welcoming you on your next flight, as well as spot her sleeping rough in the wild, carrying a weapon with camouflage paint over her face. How is that possible, I hear you say?
Here’s the secret: Emma works part time as cabin crew here at Monarch, as well as being a British Army reserve. We caught up with her to see why she chose such different occupations, and what she gets up to in both. Enjoy the read!
Hello Emma! First off, tell us a little bit about your background.
I joined the Royal Navy after I left school at 16. I spent five fabulous years living on warships around the world – this included serving onboard HMS Ark Royal during Op TELIC in 2003. I then left the ships behind to pursue a career on planes – that’s when I joined Monarch.
Today I live at home with my husband of eight years, my eight-year-old daughter Ellie and four-year-old son Archie.
How long have you worked in both roles?
I have worked for Monarch as cabin crew for nearly 11 years, but two years ago I decided to join the army reserves and started my training to become a combat medic technician for the British Army as a reservist.
What made you decide to join Monarch after spending five years in the Royal Navy?
After serving five years with the navy I fancied a career change. During that time I came across a job application for Monarch and thought, why not – it can’t be that different from working on ships! I started on a temporary contract with all intentions of leaving after six months to start University (I wanted to go down a medical route, whether it be nursing or paramedic), but the six months came and went and I am still here 11 years later! I was very fortunate to be offered a permanent contract and I couldn’t give it up, I loved every part of my job and still do.
What made you decide to join the army reserves?
After seeing their advert, I decided to go for it. Working part-time, I thought the reserves role would fit around my working life. I went along to my local career office, told them about my aspirations of wanting to train in the medical field and they suggested the role of combat medic technician. From then everything fell into place, I started my medic training last November and absolutely loved it. To know that one day I will be trained enough to make a difference to our heroes out there fighting to protect our country is an amazing feeling, plus I missed that military lifestyle and the people you meet. Now I have the best of both worlds.
If you could pick the main differences between the roles, they would be…
These are two jobs at completely different ends of the spectrum: as a cabin crew member I apply my make-up, paint my nails, plait my hair and put on my sky suit and heels; but when I’m not flying, I put on my combats, fill my Bergen with 15KG weight, collect my rifle and brush up on my soldier skills or march as a squad doing six miles in 90 minutes.
As an army reservist, I once spent four days living in the field as part of my basic training, sleeping in a ditch that I dug out myself with a waterproof poncho tied to two trees for shelter – a far cry from the 5* hotels I’ve been used to in the past with Monarch in the Maldives. At that time, my only make-up was camouflage cream (AKA cam cream) and I didn’t brush my hair for four days!
What keeps you passionate about both roles?
They’re so different from one another and I love them both for that. With the reserves I am learning new things all the time whether it be command tasks, leadership training or surviving in the field. Everything I learn in the army is a positive. When it comes to Monarch, I love how it’s so different from the army: I can wear heels and make-up and pull my case on wheels; I get to meet all types of people from different backgrounds; as cabin crew we are there to provide a service but I take pride in knowing that if anything untoward was to happen on a flight, being trained to the highest of standards, we would able to deal with the situation.
Are there any downsides to doing such different roles?
Both can be occupational hazards against the other. I once gave myself a black eye with my rifle (thankfully I was on leave with Monarch), and another time I sat in the car park at my unit in my greens scratching hot pink nail varnish off. But all in all, I wouldn’t change either role and I am so passionate about both.
How do your colleagues react when they find out about your other occupation?
I love the fact that my army friends are shocked when they find out I’m cabin crew, and my cabin crew friends are shocked when they find out I am in the army. They are surprised by the contrast: one day I will be scraping my hair back in a bun, putting on my combats and playing soldier learning new skills; another day, I am applying a full face of make-up, fuchsia nail varnish and lipstick and wheeling my case instead of putting it on my back!
However like this week, when I am alternating both jobs, I do worry about turning up to either job in the wrong uniform!