Humana's David Best Shares an Enterprise-Wide Perspective on Veteran Recruitment

"Each year Humana's Veterans Network Resource Group (VNRG) develops specific goals centered around community, careers, and how we can provide added value to the business," says Best, Senior Talent Management Professional and Veteran Hiring Initiative Leader at Humana.

David has been with Humana for slightly over 5 years. After serving a lengthy and successful Army career with multiple overseas deployments, he retired from active Army service and transitioned directly into Humana. He has served in three roles at Humana. As a Process Consultant, as an Operational Readiness Manager for a Lean Start-Up, and in his current role as Humana's Veterans Hiring Initiative leader.

David has a graduate degree in Computer Resources and Information Management from Webster University in Missouri and is a certified Lean Six Sigma Black Belt. His Talent Management background spans over 22 of his 32 years of active Army service.

He served in positions of increasing responsibility worldwide with his last position as the senior Army retention director for the Afghanistan Theater of Operations.

When he's not enjoying the company of his wife, sons, and dog, David spends his free time reading, pursuing outdoor activities, and computing.

DI: Please describe Humana's military recruitment/outreach initiatives.

Humana has a deep commitment to the veteran and military spouse population. As a longtime partner to the Department of Defense's TRICARE program, Humana currently administers health benefits for more than 6 million active duty military and retirees as well as their families across 32 states.

Since the inception of TRICARE in 1996, Humana has worked to improve the lives entrusted to our care by partnering with the Government to create the right access, better health outcomes, and simplified experiences.

As part of our relationship, we actively seek veterans and military spouses because we understand they're part of a distinct and highly skilled professional talent pool.

In response to a request from President Obama to corporate America, we launched our Veterans Hiring Initiative in August 2011 with a commitment to hire 1,000 veterans and military spouses by the end of 2014. We completed the first 1,000 hires in December 2012, which led to the launch of our Veterans Network Resource Group (VNRG). Because of the success of our effort, we recommitted to an additional 1,000 hires by the end of 2015. We achieved that goal in May 2014. Beginning in 2015, we made an ongoing commitment to hire 500 veterans and military spouses annually. In addition to this, we put a focus on hiring Wounded Warriors. Since the start of our initiative, we've hired over 4,500 veterans and military spouses.

To help maintain our commitment, we have a talent manager dedicated to veterans and military spouses. This role provides national outreach through partnerships with organizations serving veterans and military spouses. We send a list of open roles twice monthly to our partners as well as provide career coaching, resume and interview assistance, and advocacy to recruiters and hiring managers. The talent manager works with recruiters and hiring managers to bridge the gap on translation of military skills to the corporate environment. We have developed a specific training module as well for recruiters and hiring managers that helps them understand the value of the veteran in the corporate workplace.

DI: Is there a specific onboarding process after hiring veterans (and Guard and Reserve members)?

Each year Humana's Veterans Network Resource Group (VNRG) develops specific goals centered around community, careers, and how we can provide added value to the business. As part of our 2017 VNRG goals, we built an innovative onboarding experience for our new veteran and military spouse hires. Now, when we hire a veteran or military spouse, they have an opportunity before they start their first day in the organization to be paired with a volunteer from the VNRG known as a Pathfinder; the volunteer connects with them and facilitates their assimilation into our family. During the associates' first three months with Humana, they will have contact with their Pathfinder a minimum of seven times. As of November 2018, we made more than 350 pairings.

For 2019, we plan to implement a quarterly event where all of the new veteran and military spouse hires can discuss their onboarding experiences as well as learn more about Humana.

DI: Can you describe the programs you have in place to develop military talent?

Currently we have quarterly town halls specializing in topics of interest to our members. For 2019, we will be more intentional about career development by holding twice-monthly lunch-and-learns. We will have a development theme each month of the year.

DI: What is the Veterans NRG's role in military recruitment/outreach initiatives?

Our VNRG is instrumental in promoting the hiring of veterans and military spouses. Members act as ambassadors wherever they are located and refer veteran/military spouse talent to the program manager of the veterans hiring initiative. We also invite members to attend career events with the talent acquisition team as well as represent Humana at veteran events.

DI: Talk to us about the transition process and career development. How has Humana's focus on military members helped you with your career?

While I was winding down my 32-year active military career, I knew I had no understanding of corporate America. I dropped out of high school and joined the Army when I was 17. I was fully institutionalized, so to speak, and had a lot of anxiety thinking about how I would take care of my family when I came to the end of my military career.

My journey through the military helped me to understand the value of education. I left the service with a graduate degree in a technical subject as well as a certification as a Lean Six Sigma Black Belt.

Because of these qualifications, I had a bit of an easier time translating my military work into corporate language. I was able to show success metrics that transcended the military environment and equally applied to the corporate environment.

When I joined Humana I was fortunate to have as my leader a woman named Laura Padgett. She knew I was coming in to the team with no corporate experience. While having no military association herself, she intuitively knew I would need a little extra assistance with my assimilation into the corporate world. She cared about me and took it upon herself to mentor and develop me into someone with lots of corporate potential. I still consider her a mentor today, and I reach out to her from time to time for professional advice.

One thing that has stuck with me since my first day at Humana is how much they care about our veteran population. In the first year of my Humana employment, people that knew I came from the military directly to the corporate environment took extra time to help me develop and understand the corporate space.

After I had been with Humana for about 6 months, I had a chance meeting with a military veteran who was involved with our Veterans Network Resource Group. He helped me to understand the VNRG mission, and I joined right away. I volunteered my time and abilities to help grow myself and others. Because of my work with the VNRG and company-wide exposure, it led me to apply for the current role I have today working with veterans and military spouses seeking employment with Humana.

I directly credit our VNRG for helping me to have a solid second career. The networking opportunities, the volunteering opportunities and the relationships have inspired me to become more involved. Because of my involvement with our VNRG, I've been able to pay back what has been given to me during my time here at Humana.

How to Leverage Veterans to Achieve Business Objectives

PwC and Wells Fargo discuss their veterans initiatives and how they leverage veteran talent for a variety of business objectives.

01:59 – PwC Introduction

03:51 – PwC's Veterans Advocacy Program

13:56 – Recognized Success

14:34 – PwC's Veterans Affinity Network (VAN)

16:02 – PwC Charitable Foundation: Commitment to Veterans and Families

17:22 – Wells Fargo Introduction

18:04 – Overview of Military Affairs Program

18:59 – Veterans Housing Initiatives

21:07 – Financial Guidance

23:28 – Career Transition & Career Support

25:09 – Worldwide Military Bank & Military Call Center, Preparing for Deployment

27:17 – Support for Veteran-Owned Small Businesses

28:01 – No Barriers – Warriors, Other Supportive Resources

30:38 – Veterans Team Member Networks (VTMN)

37:35 – Q&A

How to Leverage Veterans to Achieve Business Objectives.pdf

Abbott’s General Counsel Hubert Allen Reflects on the Values His Parents Instilled in Him

Abbott's Hubert Allen reflects on the values his parents instilled in him, how he built one of the most diverse teams at the company and its commitment to reaching young students.

Hubert Allen's parents immigrated to the U.S. from a very small island in the West Indies; he was the first of his family born in the U.S.

After attending public schools in Boston, he attended college at Wesleyan University in Connecticut and eventually law school at Yale.

Allen started his career at law firms, first in New York and then in California. After a stint at McKesson Corporation, Allen made his way to Abbott. Today he serves as the company's general counsel, a role he assumed when Abbott separated from its proprietary pharma business, AbbVie, in 2013.

Shane Nelson: Your parents are your first true teachers. How important was education to them?

Hubert Allen: Education to them was extremely important because they saw it as a way for us to grow up and have a very different life than they had. Being born in the '30s in the West Indies, they were born into a very different world than the world we occupy today.

But they had a vision for what they wanted our lives to look like and a big part of that was education. They did not attend college but they were very focused on us being educated. They had a sense of how they believed the world worked. They taught us about outlook and character. They were very big on integrity.

They were very big on the idea that you should say what you're going to do and do what you say. They were very big on the idea that you always do the right thing in any situation. They instilled an innate sense of curiosity in me and my siblings.

They also taught us perseverance, that life is not always going to be great and it will often kick you in the teeth. But the real question is: what are you going to do about it? How do you stay in the game and how do you keep moving along?

They taught us a sense of embracing challenge. They believed you should always challenge yourself, through education and through your work. Challenge yourself to always be better than you were at a given moment in time. They thought that growth was an important part of life.

When you think about it and you think about being an immigrant, all of this makes sense. It was a tremendous thing for my parents to pick themselves up from someplace where they were pretty comfortable, and move to this world that they knew nothing about. They did it because they thought we would have a better life.

But it was a major undertaking. When you do that, you have to have a sense of optimism about the world. You have to have a sense that your place in the world matters and that there are things that you can control and if you control the things that you can control, good things will come your way.

Shane Nelson: Great! I want to jump right into your diversity efforts. After the split with AbbVie, you had to build a new team and you were able to build it into one of the most diverse teams at Abbott. How were you able to do that?

Hubert Allen: There are a couple of things that worked for us.

One is Abbott's reputation. Abbott is a company that is committed to diversity and that commitment is very visible. That is very helpful for us when building a more diverse team.

The second thing is we knew that in order to achieve diversity in our teams, we had to start with our pipeline – who is applying for, and being considered for, Abbott jobs. We were, and still are, very clear that we expect a diverse set of candidates to consider. We also focused on diversity at the law firms we use. Specifically, we focused on having them use a diverse team to present to us for every engagement. It's not always going to be the partner leading the matter; there tended to be a fair number of diverse people working on any issue. With the associates, and with people who are on the team, we just created an expectation for them that when they put together a team for us, it must be diverse.

That's important because often for in-house jobs, you tend to hire people that you've worked with. A lot of our people, the people who come to us, are people who were associates at the law firms we interact with. They know us, we know them, and when there is an opening, they put up their hands to say, "Hey, I'm interested in that." So, if you want to build a diverse team, you have to work on making sure that, that interaction is also one that then reflects diversity.

The next thing we did is we started building connections. We built connections within the legal community where we could tell our story as an employer and as an in-house department. A lot of folks coming out of law school think about their career choices, I know I did, in three buckets. You could be a private lawyer at a law firm, you can be a government lawyer or you could become an academic. But there are other options.

For a lot of people, myself included, working as a lawyer for a company like Abbott might actually be the best option because it might marry your interest with opportunity in a sense that it requires a different skill set than you would use working for a law firm. It allows you to do things that you wouldn't do if you were at a law firm.

We have a pretty large team in terms of geographic spread and we interact with legal systems in more than 100 countries across the globe. Doing that type of work has been very fulfilling for me.

Getting that story out there in terms of being present in events that the law firms have for their summer associates is important to us. We do some work with organizations that are committed to diversity in higher education and it's important to us to get that story out there through those organizations.

We do some other work with social organizations. One of the things we've also had some success with is engaging in community service projects. One of the expectations for all of us here is that we're going to spend a certain amount of our time doing community service and a certain amount of our time doing pro bono work. It's a way of giving back and also a way where we get to connect with each other.

One of the things we do when doing that work is we make a point of inviting associates from our other law firms that we work with to join us. As we do that, we particularly focus on making sure that the people who join us reflect the diversity of the profession. It gives us an opportunity to interact with associates in a different way than you might at a party because you're doing work. In doing the work, it brings out a different part of you.

It's one thing to kind of stand around and have a conversation at work, but it's a different thing to have conversation while you're moving boxes or while you're trying to accomplish a task. We found that very helpful in terms of connecting with people and getting our story out there and having folks get to know us.

Shane Nelson: Abbott does a lot to reach students early and get them interested in the industry. What are you doing to reach students early and get them interested in the legal profession?

Hubert Allen: I think this is a very important part of what we do. It's a commitment to help build our own organization and a commitment to the profession in general. One of the things I often say, and I mean this, is that it's incredible for me at this age to have this job that I never knew existed when I was in college, and I never knew existed even when I was in law school. As a profession, we need to get to students early on and show them that there are a lot of places depending on your interests and depending on your personality. As a profession, we perhaps are not good at that early on enough. What ends up happening is people go to law school with their vision in their mind, which is the usual courtroom law firm vision, and people for whom that isn't attractive, they don't end up in the profession at all. That's a problem.

I was involved with an organization when I was in college called Sponsors for Education Opportunity. They placed students in investment banking firms. That was an important experience for me in two ways. It showed me that there was this world of investment banking that I didn't know existed. That was very important. The second important thing was it showed me there were people like me in that profession.

With that in mind, we focus a lot on trying to interact with groups that do the same type of work. One of the groups we interact with here in Chicago is called Just the Beginning Foundation. They take students as early as middle school and try to get them to think about their life after high school, their life after college and what their careers would be.

We work with them and with other organizations like them to have their students come to Abbott Park to spend the day and learn what our lawyers do. We support them in their moot court efforts. We've done Q&A's with middle school students through that organization. We get ourselves out there to show that this is a viable part of the legal profession and to show them that there are people like them who actually occupy positions of responsibility.

Shane Nelson: I'd like to turn to career advice. What advice would you give to someone on developing and maintaining a successful career?

Hubert Allen: I would give them the same advice my parents gave me. A successful career is ultimately built up on the three things: curiosity, perseverance and always challenging yourself.

The world will always shift. If you can remain curious about things so that you're always learning, if you can always challenge yourself and if you can persevere through hard times, you're going to be in a pretty good place in terms of having a fulfilling career.

As part of your curiosity, seek out the advice of people who have been down the road before. Mentorship and connections with people who are older than you and who know different things than you are very important part. At the end of the day, each of us are responsible for our lives and our careers, but there are a lot of people in the world who can and will help you fulfill that responsibility to yourself. You have to go through the work of seeking out those people.

And the last thing I'd say, as counterintuitive as it is, is advice that I have heard over a number of years from my father. You've always got to remember it's just work. It's part of your life, but it's not your whole life and you have to round out your life in every way that you can. You must have interests outside of work because ultimately those interests and things outside of work, a bigger life, will make you a better person and help you do a better job at work and also to persevere through the down times.

Shane Nelson: What type of engagement do you look for in the people you sponsor?

Hubert Allen: Integrity is key to me. For the people I sponsor, I expect integrity and accountability in everything they do. I like people who are broad thinkers and in order to be a broad thinker, you need curiosity and you need to always challenge yourself. You need to think of yourself not in the context of what you are today but what it is you hope to become.

How to be a Good Mentee

Humana's Diane Bailey-Boulet and Latisha Schmitt detail how their organization's mentoring programs prepare mentees to drive the mentor/mentee relationship.

01:15 – Humana Introduction

02:17 – Quick Poll: Do You Have a Mentor Currently?

05:34 – Creating An Engaging Framework

16:27 – Overview of Guidance for Mentees

20:19 – Identifying Your Potential Mentor

21:20 – Be an Effective Mentee

24:08 – Evaluating Progress: How Are We Doing?

25:25 – Wrapping Up the Mentorship

26:50 – Q&A

How to be a Good Mentee.pdf

A How-To Guide on Executive Presence

Melissa Corwin, VP-HR, Diversity & Inclusion at AT&T and Emily Johnson, Director of Learning Strategy and Design Director at JCPenney come together to give a must-see guide on what executive presence is and how to develop and increase it.

00:00:34 – Melissa Corwin introduction

00:02:21 – What is Executive Presence?

00:06:47 – Pillars of Executive Presence; Gravitas, Communication, Appearance

00:28:47 – 3 Action Items

00:31:14 – Emily Johnson

00:34:24 – Being Politically Savvy, The Continuum

00:38:02 – Savvy Skills Pyramid

00:41:31 – Increasing Executive Presence

00:49:30 – Executive Vocabulary

00:55:28 – Ordinary vs. Extraordinary

00:57:34 – Q&A

To view/download a PDF of the presentation click here.


Career Advice on Handling Unconscious Bias

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Sodexo's Rolddy Leyva, VP, Global Diversity & Inclusion, talks about how his company's Diversity Leadership Council sets strategic priorities & performance expectations for D&I at the U.S. regional level and drives accountability for progress.


The Differences Between Mentoring and Sponsorship

Randy Cobb, Director, Diversity & Inclusion, Southern Company and Matthew Hanzlik, Program Manager, Diversity & Inclusion, Nielsen talk about the differences between mentoring and sponsoring and give insights into how their companies leverage each.