Stuart joined the Army in 1988 and completing several tours of duty in Northern Ireland, before seeing active service in the Gulf War in 1991 and Iraq in 2003. He served as a major in the UK Ministry of Defence in the Army’s strategic plans directorate and then as a personal staff officer to the Assistant Chief of the General Staff, where he was awarded an OBE for work on a strategic transformation project to restructure a major proportion of the Army.
Between 2005-2007, Stuart commanded the 3rd Battalion the Parachute Regiment and led the first UK Battle Group sent to southern Afghanistan, for which he was awarded a Distinguished Service Order (DSO). Following promotion to full Colonel in 2007, Stuart resigned from the Army. After a twenty-year career as a soldier, leading 3 PARA in Afghanistan was the crucible of all his leadership testing.
Stuart has held several MD global leadership head positions in Barclays (security, global travel and veterans’ transition). Joining in 2008, his experience included playing key roles in several crisis situations, including the 2008 financial crisis, Arab Spring, pandemics and numerous global terrorist incidents. He founded the Barclays AFTER and VETS ex-military employment programmes, leading to the hiring of 600 former service personnel into Barclays and another 1,633 into VETS partner companies. Stuart also set up the Parachute Regiment Afghanistan Trust charity, raising £3.7M for wounded paratroopers.
In September 2019, Stuart joined Matero Consulting as one of the founding partners, to establish a new approach to change management by fusing the commercial acumen of the partners’ corporate and consultancy experience with the military pedigree for agile decision making, mission purposed planning and empowered execution. Underpinned by a strong culture and leadership framework, the approach is designed to assist clients with transformation agendas.
Stuart has been engaged by over fifty FTSE companies to talk about leadership in adversity, decision making and creating successful organisational culture. He was also a respected national media commentator on defence and security matters and is a London and Cambridge University history graduate and a part-time author. His first book, Danger Close – Leading 3 PARA in Afghanistan became a Sunday Times Best Seller and his fourth book, about the SAS in the Falklands War will be published by Penguin in November 2020.
After a twenty-year career in the Army, leading the first UK unit sent to southern Afghanistan was the crucible of his leadership testing. As an intended peace support operation collapsed into an unprecedented level of combat intensity, Stuart Tootal and his battlegroup of 1,200 people transitioned and adapted to massive, unanticipated and rapidly changing circumstances. Based on ten subsequent years spent as a corporate global head, research with fifty FTSE/Fortune companies and now leading Matero Consulting, which fuses combat experience for commercial benefit, Stuart believes that military leadership, decision-making and mission purpose empowerment offers a powerful learning perspective for businesses, seeking not only to survive, but also to thrive in the new normal of Covid 19.