x Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 22 January 2018

Army training pays dividends for Dubai manager

Julian Woodall now uses his skills to educate and enhance corporate medical response teams working in remote locations.

Julian Woodall is putting his medical expertise to good use. Photo supplied by Julian Woodall
Julian Woodall is putting his medical expertise to good use. Photo supplied by Julian Woodall

Julian Woodall is putting his adventurous spirit and army skills to good use.

Now based in Dubai, the 45-year-old Briton is the business development manager for Health & Safety Solutions.

He uses the skills he learnt from the British army to educate and enhance corporations’ medical response teams and giving first aid in remote areas. He has explored deserts in the Sinai, Sahara and Oman, and has provided medical support and training for the 2013 Shackleton Epic Expedition.

That expedition re-enacted the explorer Sir Ernest Shackleton’s perilous voyage from Elephant Island to South Georgia in 1912. Mr Woodall now hopes to complete the Hejaz Railway Expedition, across Saudi Arabia’s Nefud Desert and Wadi Rum, following the legendary desert railway that saw action in the era of T E Lawrence nearly a century ago.

Why did you join the British army?

I joined the army when I was 21 in 1990 and I have never regretted the decision for a single second. It was giving, not taking, and I was incredibly proud of the job I did. I got to see the world, it gave me something which you can’t get anywhere else and made me look at life differently. I joined the Royal Artillery in November 1990 as a gunner. My job was a forward observer, a spotter for targets. The army makes you fit, organised and ready for anything, part of your job is to be ready for the unexpected. The job is rarely dull.

Were you ever in danger?

A few times. But if you find yourself in situations that endanger the life of yourself or your colleagues a sixth sense kicks in that blocks the fear or anxiety.

Why the change of career?

Once I’d made the decision to leave the army it made sense to use my training as a remote areas medic to further my career by providing that assistance in the corporate world. I started my own business providing first-aid training in hostile environments such as deserts, conflict zones and mountainous regions to companies that were operating in Iraq, Nigeria, Oman, the Highlands of Scotland and Snowdonia. I was selected to work for the Royal Navy at the Maritime Survivability School, HMS Excellent, at the First Aid Training Unit training members of the ships company and Royal Marine Commandos. This was how I became involved with the Shackleton Epic Expedition [that took place last February] on meeting adventurer Sebastian Coulthard.

What prompted the decision to come to Dubai?

Early in 2013 I wanted a new challenge and was offered a job in Dubai as business development manager, it was my first ever office job. We provide first-aid training and first-aid cover for corporations across the Middle East. We tailor a package of first-aid training that caters to a company’s needs. That can be from concerts, having teams available to administer first aid at massive events to film shoots in the Empty Quarter. You will find me on most Fridays at The Emirates American Football League games attending to any first aid needed. I’m not there as a fan it is part of our sporting events coverage. I’m finding that life outside of the army may not be as unpredictable but it has its challenges and it is just as exciting.

How useful has your military background been to your current role?

My services past is invaluable as part of a network of people that have a common experience, culture and mind set. The services I offer are specialist skills that require knowledge of different terrains and environments. The Middle East has many areas that can leave those that are unprepared in dangerous and life threatening situations and we always ensure our clients have a variety of options at their disposal when events do not go to plan.

What do you do in your spare time?

I am an assistant Scout Leader, which is a first for me, walking in to a troop of new teenagers has to be one of the more nerve-wracking things I have ever done. The troop is 20-strong and just doing their survival badge. The resources in Dubai are incredible, I have recently taken the troop rock climbing in [Dubai’s] Adventure HQ Times Square. I am starting a crisis risk management MSc through long distance learning from the University of Leicester and … I am running, sea kayaking or swimming. Life isn’t a rehearsal, live it now and enjoy it.

ascott@thenational.ae