Soldier to Auditor, meet Mark Burgess I joined the army in May 1987 as a military chef, my basic and phase 2 training were completed at the old St Omer Barracks in Aldershot. I was a fully qualified chef as I had completed 2 years at Salisbury College and 1 year working within the industry after college. Due to already being qualified, I completed full basic training but only a shortened phase 2 course. I then passed out in November 1987 and was posted to 22 Air Defence in Dortmund, Germany.

For the next 9 years I slowly progressed up the ranks to Sergeant following postings to Larkhill, Colerne, Cyprus and Northern Ireland. All the roles were as a chef or JNCO shift leader and many pies, bacon butties and egg banjos cooked.
From the rank of Sergeant, I started to carry out more and more internal auditing and though I did not realise it at the time, I was starting my auditing career. These audits at times were just a simple parade with my soldiers where I carried out kit checks, room inspections and pre-deployment inspections. However, I was also carrying out stock checks based on 1033 holdings and checks on equipment within my department.

These “audits” continued through to the rank of WO2 (RCWO) when I was carrying out inspections on the ration account and ration stock holding. Audits of our Food Safety Management System (JSP 456, Vol 3) now started to take place, and again I did not realise this was a First Party Audit.
In 2005, I had the honour to be selected to Warrant Officer Class 1 and was posted to HQ 12 Mech Bde, as the Brigade Catering Warrant Officer. I deployed immediately to Iraq (Telic 6), as the Force Catering Warrant Officer and was responsible for all carting activities in Iraq (27 locations, 250 military chefs and 8000 hungry mouths to feed). I then carried out Logistic Support Inspections (LSI’s) on each unit deployed in country, which again I did not know were Second Party Audits.
On return from Iraq I continued carrying out LSI’s, which were in the UK, Nepal and Germany. I also deployed to Afghanistan in 2017 on Herrick 6, working in a very challenging environment with my teams in extremely remote and hostile locations.

I really got into the audits and started to think this was something I would like to do after leaving the services.
In Dec 2009 I had an offer to work in Afghanistan for a NATO organisation (NSPA) carrying out their audits on their contractors within Kandahar & Kabul. This is where I really got to understand the benefits of carrying out concise and comprehensive audits. We were able to audit NATO funded contractors who were supporting the ISAF mission and were providing a wide range of support services to include; catering, power generation, waste water treatment, airfield management, laundry, catering, mortuary, cleaning, roads and grounds and even 1650 portable toilets dotted throughout Kandahar Airbase.
I left Afghan in Jul 2014 and started working for ISOQAR as a trainee 3rd party auditor. I was trained to audit, ISO 9001 - Quality, 14001 - Environmental, OHSAS 18001 – Health & Safety, 50001 – Energy Management, and 22000 – Food Safety. I left ISOQAR to work for a competitor in 2016 in a senior management role where I was training in auditing ISO 55001 – Asset Management, until March this year where I have returned as Filed Operations Director, where I managed approximately 75 full time auditors and 35 sub-contractors.
My experiences working in the army not only put me in good stead to become and auditor, but also as a senior manager within a very robust and fast moving organisation such as Alcumus Group. I have had to learn to change my management style to be more civilian oriented, but my auditing style has not changed. Attention to detail, understanding process and being firm but fair, are all attributes for a good auditor. We are also able to work on our own and understand that nights working away from home are acceptable (within reason, of course).
I am very proud to have served my country, and also grateful for the experiences it has given me. Also I did not know that it was preparing me for my second career as an auditor. This is a job I enjoy, not quite what I thought I would be doing after leaving school, but it a great job.