Gareth McBain

Current Role: Senior Technical Programme Manager


Tesco: pushing new frontiers with technology


Meet Gareth and read about his transition from the Royal Marines into a career in project management. Discover the value service leavers bring to our business, and the plethora of career opportunities they have in a tech team at Tesco.


“I knew I was destined for the military from an early age. 15 generations of my family were in the military, so I’d say it’s in my DNA. I was in the Royal Air Force (RAF) Cadets, where I learnt to fly a plane before I could drive a car. I wasn’t interested in going to university, I wanted to be a pilot. At 17, I applied for the RAF, but I wasn’t even shortlisted for an interview. So in the end, to my parents surprise, I became a Royal Marine. And it was the best decision of my life.

“I was able to transition back into civilian life quite smoothly and swiftly.”

I did seven years and two major tours. I went to Iraq in 2003 and Afghanistan in 2006, where I had quite a serious accident. It was then that I came back to the UK and got a medical discharge. While it’s different for every service leaver, I’d say I was able to transition back into civilian life quite smoothly and swiftly. I also joined another rugby club, where I knew I’d find people with a similar outlook to that of service leavers, and that team spirit and mentality has got me through some darker days.

The military paid towards some project management qualifications, and I got my first role as a document controller quite soon after that. My last project management role was in the finance industry, but I didn’t see a way to reach my full potential there. I’ve got quite clear personal development goals for my future career, and I felt I’d hit the ceiling. That’s when I discovered Tesco.

“When it comes to valuing colleagues, Tesco puts its money where its mouth is.”

I was headhunted by my current manager, but at first, I didn’t think Tesco would be the place for me. It was when he explained my role that I decided to take a leap of faith. And here I am, working in Workspace Technology, the team responsible for enabling all our colleagues to communicate and collaborate as easily as possible. And as Senior Technical Programme Manager, I’ve been able to come in and create a brand-new framework of operation for project management within the department.

I was initially drawn to the role for the renumeration and progression. But I’ve discovered so many more benefits in the nine months since I joined. When it comes to valuing colleagues, Tesco puts its money where its mouth is. A great example of this is a Managing Successful Programmes (MSP) course I was trying to get my previous employer to send me on for three years. Within six weeks of starting here, Tesco supported me to do it.

“I believe sourcing colleagues from the Armed Forces is vital for the future of Tesco.”

Jack Cohen founded Tesco back in 1919, after leaving the Royal Flying Corps at the end of the First World War. And Tesco is the biggest UK employer of service leavers – according to the latest recruitment industry poll. Our Armed Forces Network (AFN) focuses on veterans, reservists and family members, with events and quarterly meetings. I’m a Pillar Chair and I work to showcase the opportunities available at Tesco, because you really can take your career in any direction in a business of this scale. I also think there’s so much scope for the AFN to collaborate with organisations and charities to support service leavers even more, and I’m passionate about being part of that.

I believe sourcing colleagues from the Armed Forces is vital for the future of Tesco. There’s a mentality that’s built into you when you’re in the military. There are so many skills service leavers can bring to any business, such as a strong work ethic, confidence, commitment and life experience. Organising troops and leading them during an operation was a type of project management training in itself. Of course, the stakes were higher, but it was all about having a clear, concrete plan in place, being prepared for any issues that may arise, and knowing how solve problems in the field.

There’s a massive focus on tech and its benefits to our company and purpose at Tesco. Whether it’s improving our cyber security to protect our business, integrating AI like Microsoft Copilot to make our colleagues’ lives easier or using robots to deliver shopping to our customers – the sky’s the limit when it comes to tech here. I’m really excited about the future at Tesco and the value service leavers will bring.”

Everyone’s welcome at Tesco. We’re there for our people, whatever life brings. So we’ll do everything we can to support you; to help you feel comfortable being yourself at work, and to ensure you’ve always got what you need to develop and grow with us.

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