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Hilton Worldwide's Operation: Opportunity Exceeds Veteran Hiring Goal

Matt Welsh, vice president, Global Recruiting, Hilton Worldwide, shares how Hilton went above and beyond its goal to hire 10,000 military veterans and their families over five years and how it employs a military-friendly culture.

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Matt Welsh, vice president, Global Recruiting, Hilton Worldwide, shares how Hilton went above and beyond its goal to hire 10,000 military veterans and their families over five years and how it employs a military-friendly culture.

Matt Welsh

Vice President, Global Recruiting

 

Matt Welsh leads the Global Recruiting organization for Hilton Worldwide (No. 42 on the DiversityInc 2016 Top 50 Companies for Diversity list). His team supports 13 brands worldwide and manages end-to-end recruiting processes from executive through hotel operations. Matt focuses on defining and executing the company’s global recruiting strategy, programs, technology and analytics to establish Hilton as the hospitality industry leader.

Before Hilton, Matt led strategic development and organizational transformation for technology, media, and service companies. He led business operations for LinkedIn Marketing Solutions, where he developed integrated product and go-to-market strategies in social media technology. Matt was also an associate principal at McKinsey & Company, focused on revenue growth and organizational transformation across a number of industries. His work focused on adapting to digital disruption, big data, and technology trends to achieve revenue objectives and drive more efficient and effective operations. He spent his early career managing Discovery Online's e-commerce channel.

 

Q. Why is your company focused on recruiting veterans? Describe your veterans recruitment/outreach initiatives.

A. Veterans have been embedded in Hilton’s culture for nearly 100 years, starting with our founder, U.S. Army veteran Conrad Hilton. In 2013, we launched Operation: Opportunity, an initiative to provide extensive support to United States military veterans and their families that included a commitment to hire 10,000 veterans and their spouses by 2018 in the United States. At that time, approximately 10 percent of post-9/11 veterans were unemployed and active duty military were transitioning to civilian life at a rate of more than 250,000 per year, and Hilton wanted to be part of the solution for providing veterans great careers when they return home.

Hilton reached its Operation: Opportunity hiring goal in three years, two years ahead of schedule. Through our recruitment efforts, we have found members of the military and veterans are a natural fit for Hilton. We share similar values — like integrity, ownership, leadership and teamwork. Returning military personnel have also developed skills that are highly transferable and valued in the hospitality industry, including communication, the ability to work under pressure, self-confidence, cultural and generational awareness, team leadership, decision-making and problem-solving.

Our veteran recruitment and outreach initiatives are extensive and the interest and sentiment from the military and veteran community has been overwhelmingly positive.

• We began Operation: Opportunity with a military-themed roadshow for HR and hiring managers in 10 cities. The roadshow included a one-day program on the value of hiring former service members with practical tips to interpreting military résumés and interviewing, as well as lunches that allowed local veterans organizations to meet with HR recruiters. The roadshow also included hiring fairs where hiring managers conducted first-round interviews with military jobseekers.

• Hilton has since aligned itself with strategic partners, like the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation’s Hiring Our Heroes, to seek and attract transitioning members of the military, veterans and their spouses. Our team participated in successful transition summits, hiring fairs and expos at major military installations and cities to help recruit talent.

• Hilton was also connected with the military and veteran community across social media channels by posting relevant articles and sharing messages from our CEO. We found this approach resonated with our existing followers and drew new support.

For more information on what Hilton learned from hiring veterans, visit Chris Nassetta’s key learnings blog post on LinkedIn.

 

Q. Are veterans recruited for leadership positions, if so, have you had success in this area? Describe please. 

A. Over the past three years, approximately 12 percent of our military hires across the country have found successful hotel supervisory and management roles spanning across guest services, facilities maintenance, culinary, security & loss prevention, sales, food & beverage, housekeeping, laundry, events, catering, accounting and recreation, among other departments. Hilton has also welcomed many veterans to roles at major corporate offices in Virginia, Texas, Florida and Tennessee. For veterans without related functional expertise, we offer career paths so they can build lifelong, fulfilling careers.

 

Q. Once veterans are hired, do you have programs in place to retain and develop them? Please describe in detail.

 A. Hilton offers numerous programs to help veterans acclimate to our workplace and to ensure they are continuing to develop their careers:

• We started our Veterans Team Member Resource Group (VTMRG) right after the Operation: Opportunity program launched. The VTMRG is open to all Team Members, and its purpose is to support our colleagues who have served in the military, as well as friends or family members of veterans. In partnership with our Military Programs team, the VTMRG focuses on enhancing our veteran-friendly culture at Hilton.

• Each hotel and corporate office has a “Military Commander,” a Team Member who has volunteered to be the military program champion at their location and helps to ensure a military-friendly culture.

• When a new veteran starts, they are assigned a Military Sponsor to help them get acclimated at the company. The sponsor is typically a veteran who has had a similar experience to the new Team Member. The sponsor’s role is to answer questions, show them around, introduce them to people and make them feel welcome.

  

Q. What challenge(s) has the company faced in recruiting or retaining veterans and how has it overcome those challenges?

 A. At the start of our Operation: Opportunity hiring program, we found solutions for many of the challenges we experienced.

• Connecting with veterans: Hilton has a dedicated Military Programs team that uses job search platforms and partnerships to identify veterans and guide them through the job search process. We attend more than 100 military hiring fairs across the country each year.

• Making the case for hospitality: When drawing down, most service members don’t have the hospitality industry top of mind. They often think about defense contractors, security firms or law enforcement as the next step in their careers. Last year, we created about 20,000 new jobs and continue to post new jobs daily. We also offer a diverse set of career path opportunities, including culinary, finance, accounting, guest services, facilities maintenance, security & loss prevention, sales, marketing, food & beverage, housekeeping, laundry, events, catering, banquet services, call center, spa, recreation and more. We have also found our culture is a great fit for veterans who are looking for a team environment.

• Training Team Members: Training hiring managers, HR representatives and recruiters on how to read and translate a military résumé is crucial. The team has to look beyond the bullets on the résumé and understand how military experience can translate to the civilian workforce. This training can include basic knowledge of military lingo and how to ask the right questions to get the veteran to share more about their experience.

 

 Q. Do you have a veterans resource group? If yes, can you describe how it has helped the company address or meet business objectives?

A. Hilton launched our VTMRG in November 2013 right after the Operation: Opportunity launch. The VTMRG is open to all Team Members, and its purpose is to support our colleagues who have served in the military and enhance our veteran-friendly culture at Hilton. The VTMRG has helped us provide a veteran’s point of view on a number of company initiatives, including our benefits and Team Member programs.

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.

Wells Fargo's Jerry Quinn on Veteran Recruitment Strategies

"We have a high touch approach with leadership positions that includes relationship building across the entire Wells Fargo footprint," says Quinn, Senior Vice President, Military Affairs Program Manager at Wells Fargo.

Jerry Quinn is the Senior Vice President, Military Affairs Program Manager at Wells Fargo. He oversees the development and execution of the enterprise-wide strategy for military members, veterans and their families. Additionally, Jerry is responsible for developing national relationships with the military and veteran community, including the Department of Defense, Veterans Affairs, national military and veteran service organizations, and support entities. He leads the company's internal and external strategy focused on financially empowering military members and veterans through career transition, housing initiatives and financial education.

Jerry has worked in the banking industry for more than 24 years, and is in his 29th year with the U.S. Army. During his fourteen-year career at Wells Fargo, Jerry was also a principal business relationship manager with Retail Banking in Colorado. Prior to that, Jerry held positions as Community Bank President and Correspondent Banking Officer. In uniform, Jerry serves with the 84th Training Command (Army Reserve) as a Brigade Operations Officer for mission command training and assessment for brigade and division staffs in strategy and planning. Past assignments have included army and brigade staff and company command assignments in the Middle East, Europe, Washington, D. C. and Panama.

A native to Colorado, Jerry attended Colorado State University, earning a bachelor's degree with dual emphasis in finance and real estate, as well as an MBA in organizational design and change management from the University of Colorado. He's also a graduate of the University of Colorado School of Banking.

He has served on the board of the Association of Military Banks of America since 2014 and continues to volunteer with veteran service organizations.

DI: How has being in this role and working with military initiatives impacted you on a personal level?

I am honored to serve Wells Fargo in my capacity. The company has provided me the opportunity to combine both of my professional careers: military service and banking. It has impacted me on a personal level because we have been able to tangibly affect the lives of military and veterans. As a life-long banker, I am personally proud to get to contribute in these ways to a community that I love.

DI: What are some programs that Wells Fargo offers military members (veterans, Guard and Reserve)?

Wells Fargo has more than 200 team members on military leave at any given time. The company offers active guard and reserves supplemental pay designed to make up the difference between their Wells Fargo pay and military base pay; medical, dental, vision, and long-term care coverage; and pay for work missed due to weekend drill and annual training. We are proud to support America's all volunteer force in this way. So much is asked of our reserve forces.

For those transitioning from military service, Wells Fargo offers Military Apprenticeships, a Veteran Employment Transition internship program, American Corporate Partners mentorships, and scholarships and emergency grants through Scholarship America. We currently have more than 8,300 team members who self-identify as being veterans.

DI: What kind of impact has the Veterans ERG had on Wells' military members? Can you detail a couple of examples?

Wells Fargo's Veteran Team Member Network (VTMN) has more than 8,000 members that accomplish a great deal on behalf of the company. Network members volunteer to rehabilitate veteran homes, participate in veteran recruiting events and strategy meetings, and coordinate Veterans Day parade activities, among many activities in and outside of the company.

DI: How have these programs allowed for Wells to address or meet business objectives?

The VTMN has consulted with the enterprise and helped us improve the way we interact with our military service members and veterans. They help us celebrate our military and veterans in our local communities, volunteer to rehabilitate veteran homes, support the Secretary of Defense Employer Support of the Guard and Reserve (ESGR) initiatives, and earn countless awards from the ESGR for their commitment to supporting our military.

DI: Are veterans recruited for leadership positions?

Veterans are recruited at all levels at Wells Fargo, including leadership roles. Through our Veteran Employment Transition program, we have been able to target roles that are more senior and identify senior noncommissioned and commissioned officers. Our Military Apprentice Program is expanding to focus on leadership positions. Finding the right level leadership role for high-ranking military talent can be a challenge. Wells Fargo has addressed this by working with military talent liaisons who help refer candidates. We have a high touch approach with leadership positions that includes relationship building across the entire Wells Fargo footprint.

DI: How can employers make the transition for veterans easier?

Civilians have a hard time understanding veteran resumes and veterans sometimes have a hard time translating their skills and abilities into civilian terms. Employers can help veterans translate their transferrable skills, such as leadership, discipline and teamwork. They can offer special resources to ensure veterans know jobs that they may qualify for using these skills. As employers, we can learn some of these unique elements of the military career and learn how to better identify the abilities that veteran talent brings to our company.

Kaiser Permanente's Anthony B. Coleman: Veterans Should Discover Their Passion and Allow it to Lead to a Profession

Coleman, talks with DiversityInc about his journey transitioning from life in the U.S. Navy to working as an Assistant Hospital Administrator for Kaiser Permanente.

Anthony B. Coleman, DHA, is the Assistant Hospital Administrator (Operations Support) for Kaiser Permanente, Fontana and Ontario Medical Centers.

He was born at Kaiser Permanente Los Angeles Medical Center. At 17, he enlisted in the U.S. Navy serving aboard the USS Pioneer (MCM 9) and USS Ardent (MCM 12). After completing a full sea tour he was transferred to shore duty, and earned a Bachelor's degree in Workforce, Education and Development, as well as a Master of Health Administration.

He later earned a commission as a Naval Officer serving in various roles overseas and afloat, including Chief Financial Officer at U.S. Naval Hospital Beaufort SC, Human Resources Director at U.S. Naval Hospital Yokosuka, Japan and Medical Operations Officer onboard the USS Harry S Truman (CVN 75) nuclear powered aircraft carrier.

Anthony retired in 2016 with 20 years of honorable service and holds a Doctor of Health Administration Degree and currently serves as the Assistant Administrator (Operations Support) for Kaiser Permanente Fontana and Ontario Medical Centers.

DI: What was the initial transition like going from the armed services to a civilian career?

My initial thoughts on transition brought unnecessary anxiety. However, when I learned that my preceptor was a retired Air Force Colonel, it helped put me at ease about the transition. On my first day at Kaiser Permanente, the staff and physicians welcomed me and ensured that I had the support I needed to make a successful transition.

DI: What are some skills or habits you developed while serving in the military that have helped you in your current role?

Two things stick out in my mind as important.

The first is transitioning mindset from duty to desire. I joined the navy at 17, and during the first 3-5 years of my military career I didn't realize I was part of something bigger than myself so I competed tasks out of obligation (duty). After completing my first full sea tour, I realized how my efforts contributed to the overall mission of the U.S. Navy and the duties I carried out started to come from a desire to do so. This realization helped shape my leadership style and how I groomed young sailors early on in their enlistments. I wanted them to realize their very important part in the overall U.S. Navy mission and motivate them to bring their "A" game every day.

This has helped in my current role overseeing nine non-clinical departments (Housekeeping, Food and Nutrition, Engineering, Construction, Parking, Safety, Property Management, Telecommunications, Security and Supply Chain Management) where the majority of the employees I oversee are entry-level and can feel disconnected to health care because they are not physicians or nurses. However, I stress to them as often as possible that whether their job is to nourish the patient, clean and disinfect a patient room, make sure life-saving equipment is in working order, or any other of the hundreds of non-clinical functions they perform day in and day out, they too are vital to a patient's health and healing.

The second is attention to detail. Most times, my staff are the first and/or last interaction our members have with Kaiser Permanente. It is crucial for them to pay attention to every detail about the patient they encounter because each and every detail about the patient, large or small can help us do a better job in serving them. Sometimes, it may be as simple as a smile or word of encouragement that could make all the difference in the patient experience.

DI: What career advice can you offer to veterans or current military folks who are looking to pivot, and what types of jobs should they be looking for?

Stay current in world health affairs, as well as the political climate in the US. Now more than ever, politics are shaping our approach to health care and vice versa. Veterans and current military members should make sure they have an idea of where civilian health care is, as well as where it's going in the future, so they can demonstrate their value to potential health care employers.

Devote time to discovering their passion and allow it to lead them to a profession. So often, when military members plan to transition to civilian life, they tend to focus on their ability to continue providing for their families beyond military service. This can cause us to accept positions for the sake of securing post military employment, or accept positions that are not aligned with our core beliefs, or passion.

DI: Did you always have an idea of the type of career you wanted to pursue after the military?

Yes. As a matter of fact, I began planning my exit from the military in 2005 when I discovered my passion for eliminating health disparities however, because I was a single father of a 5 year old girl, my mom convinced me to complete a full career first.

In 2004, the Navy sent me to graduate school to learn how to be a health administrator. During the summer of 2005, I interned at Wallace Thomson Hospital in rural Union County, South Carolina. While there I met a kitchen worker who impressed me with her skill in preparing meals for all of the sick patients at the hospital, specific to their individual needs. Her name was Pee Wee and even though she never finished high school, and worked a second job to make ends meet she somehow found a way to show compassion for each patient while contributing to the healing environment.

After the rotation was complete, I went back to finish graduate school and learned that Pee Wee died of a stroke. She was 52. Her death really affected me and I began to look at how a person in America could die so young of a preventable health issue. That's when I learned about health disparities and discovered my passion for eliminating them. I understand that I may not be able to complete this task in my lifetime however, I am completely comfortable with making it my life's work at Kaiser Permanente.

Meeting in a Box: Memorial Day

This Meeting in a Box includes information and statistics on veterans, as well as insight from veteran executives on what the day really means.

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This Meeting in a Box tool is designed for distribution to all employees. You may use portions of it or all of it. Each section is available as a separate PDF; you can forward the entire document or link to it on DiversityInc Best Practices; or you can print it out for employees who do not have Internet access.

For Memorial Day, we are giving you a valuable tool to share with all your employees as you continue their education in cultural competence. We are supplying a Timeline of military battles, legislation and events impacting veterans and their achievements in the United States; Facts & Figures demonstrating veteran demographics; and “Memorial Day: Think Before You Say 'Thank You For Your Service.'" This information should be distributed to your entire workforce and also should be used by your veterans employee resource group both internally and externally as a year-round educational tool. It also can be particularly valuable to your disability, women's and LGBT employee resource groups.

[CLICK HERE to download a PDF of the full Meeting in a Box, our diversity-management training and educational tool available only to Benchmarking customers and DiversityInc Best Practices subscribers.]

1. Timeline

We recommend you start your employees' cultural-competence lesson on veterans by using this Timeline, which documents significant military operations, legislation and other historic events impacting veterans in the United States.

Discussion Questions for Employees

Why — or why not — have veterans been valued in this country?

Ask employees what contributions veterans have made to their country and why after certain military operations there was more or less support for them. How does treatment and reputation of veterans impact their role in the workplace?

Why have some barriers, such as women in combat and Don't Ask, Don't Tell, been so hard to end?

How do the military, political and social climates in this country impact issues of civil rights in the armed services? How does this affect veterans and their spouses in the private sector?

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

2. Facts & Figures

After discussion of the Timeline, the next step is to review available data and understand demographics of veterans (important for diversity recruiters) as well as benefits they bring the workplace, such as education, leadership training and ability to act in crisis.

The data we have chosen to present here represents information of relevance to corporate America, such as racial/ethnic, gender, age, education and business ownership (vital for supplier diversity). We also feature the Top 15 Companies for Veterans and the best practices they employ, such as an employee resource group for veterans, having recruitment efforts aimed at veterans, hiring practices aimed at spouses of veterans and increased philanthropic endeavors and supplier diversity for veterans.

Discussion Questions for Employees

Does your company have an employee resource group for veterans?

If not, how would this group benefit your company in increased hiring, engagement and promotion rates? If so, does the group communicate regularly with other employee resource groups, such as groups for people with disabilities? Is the group tasked with improving recruitment, retention and leadership development, as well as community outreach?

Increasingly, veterans' employee resource groups are being used to also help with onboarding and ensure that veterans acclimate to corporate cultures. It's also vital to have their managers and other employees understand veterans to ensure a successful transition to corporate life.

Does your company have a supplier diversity program aimed at veterans and/or veterans with disabilities?

Veteran-owned businesses are a valuable part of your procurement chain and can bring important skills and criteria to your organization. Similarly, vendors owned by people with disabilities and especially veterans with disabilities are increasingly included (and targeted) as vital pieces of the procurement budget.

Does your company publicly support veterans?

Strong support from CEOs, such as Johnson & Johnson's Alex Gorsky and Prudential Financial's John Strangfeld, cements a company's reputation as a supporter for veterans (Prudential Financial is No. 18 on the 2018 Top 18 Companies for Veterans list). This helps with recruitment, engagement, leadership development and procurement.

To view/download a PDF of Facts & Figures click here.

3. Memorial Day: Think Before You Say 'Thank You For Your Service'

Memorial Day tends to be viewed as either another instance of Veterans Day or the unofficial start of summer. But it is not in fact the day to thank a veteran for his or her service. Two veterans spoke with DiversityInc to explain what Memorial Day really is.

Discussion Questions for Employees

Why might Memorial Day be more difficult for some veterans than others?

No two servicemembers' experiences are the same. Discuss why some veterans may be more strongly affected by past experiences on Memorial Day than others.

If you can't say thank you to a living veteran, what can you do to give thanks on Memorial Day?

Connect with your veterans resource group to find out about any volunteer or tribute opportunities you can participate in around this time, such as visiting a veterans cemetery.

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

Additional Resources: Career Advice on Veterans

PwC's Chris Crace Gives Advice on Overcoming Roadblocks, Getting Back on Track and Not Being Afraid to Fail

PwC's Veteran's Advocacy Leader Chris Crace gives career advice on overcoming roadblocks, getting back on track and not being afraid to fail.

Comcast Veterans Give Advice on Balancing Military and Civilian Careers

Veterans now working for Comcast give advice on transitioning, balancing your military life with the civilian world and more.

Wells Fargo Veterans Give Advice on Transitioning From Military to Civilian Work

Military veterans at Wells Fargo give career advice on transitioning to corporate life, including adapting your leadership and communications style.

Accenture's Tauni Crefeld on Challenges Veterans Face When Transitioning

After leaving the Air Force, Tauni joined Accenture as an analyst — at new joiner level — and 19 years later is a Managing Director in the company's Communications, Media and Technology Consulting practice, leading large complex delivery projects for clients.

EY Manager: To Emerge Stronger Professionally, Veterans Should Employ the Same Resilience Learned While Serving

Ben Bing is a Manager in EY's Advisory services practice and based in the firm's New York City office. Prior to joining EY, he was an Officer in the United States Navy, where he spent 11 years as a Naval Aviator and staff officer.

TIAA's Veteran Focus

Veterans are an important part of TIAA's employee-base and mentorship is crucial to making a transition back to the workforce successful.

Principal at EY: Military Experiences Taught Me I Am The Master of My Own Limitations

Jennifer Kamrowski, Principal in EY's Advisory services practice, talks about her military service and how it set her up for success at EY.

Southern Company Veterans Give Advice on Transitioning From the Military and Advancing Your Career

Southern Company veterans share insights and experiences on transitioning from the military and give advice on how to advance your career as a veteran.

Brian Thomas, Senior Safety Compliance Specialist, Southern Company Gas

Brian Thomas, Senior Safety Compliance Specialist, Southern Company Gas

After 26 years of military service, Brian Thomas retired as a major from the Alabama Army National Guard, Active Guard Reserve (AGR) program in 2014.

Brian began his career with Southern Company in 2014 and recently joined Southern Company Gas as a senior safety compliance specialist. In his new role, Brian implements processes and procedures to ensure safety compliance. He also leads safety excellence programs to strengthen the safety culture.

He earned a Master of Science degree in Business Administration (MBA) and a Master of Science degree in Health Services Administration (MHSA) from the University of St. Francis. Brian currently serves as an executive board member for Thrive Youth Development Program. He recently accepted the vice-chair position for Southern Company Gas Vet Net, a military veteran employee resource group.

• What assets have you brought with you from your military experience to your current role?

The biggest asset would be the discipline that we learned in the military. Discipline is highly valued by employers, especially when a veteran is selected to perform a task and the veteran has the discipline to self-start the task and then see the task to completion. Discipline also plays a key part in the veteran's daily performance and availability to perform tasks when the employer has an additional need. We know as veterans that we are here to perform each task with a sense of excellence from start to finish.

Ricardo Brito, Senior Contract Analyst, Alabama Power

Ricardo Brito, Senior Contract Analyst, Alabama Power

In his role, Ricardo is responsible for the negotiation of contracts on the company's behalf. Prior to Alabama Power, Ricardo served four years as an active duty armor officer in the United States Army.

Ricardo is a graduate of the University of South Alabama and Samford University's Cumberland School of Law.

• What has the transition experience been like for you and what advice can you give to those who are transitioning now?

It was challenging to adjust to a role as an individual contributor in the corporate sector when I had previously served in a leadership role in the military. Initially, I had my mind set on a supervisory position. Then, when I started job searching based on interests and geographic location, I quickly realized I needed to realign my goals. I had to take a step back and remind myself that leadership is not a position that is given, but rather the responsibility to influence and promote positive change that you need to bring with you no matter your job title.

• What advice do you have for those who are seeking jobs? How should they talk about their military experience — i.e., in interviews, via their résumé, etc.?

Get comfortable speaking about your military experiences and achievements. As veterans, we are often still stuck in the military mindset of, “It was just a part of the mission; anyone else in my position would have done the same." You can still find ways to integrate the military's team focus with your own personal experiences and achievements. Learn how to break down your individual contributions and then discuss how those contributions led to team successes.

Michael Moro, Operations & Maintenance Manager, Southern Company

• What advice do you have for those who have been in the workforce for a few years? How can they advance their careers?

Learn the elusive skill of networking, but don't let it become your only focus. Like everything else, it's about balance. If you're not inherently good at networking, put reminders on your calendar to reach out to colleagues and touch base periodically. If you're lucky, and networking is already one of your core strengths, just remember to not let it interfere with your current role. It's always good advice to become an expert where you are … do well, and you'll be recognized for it. Basically, let your actions and results be your best promoters.

PwC: Career Advice for Veterans

A panel of veterans at PwC give career advice to other veterans on topics such as transitioning from the military, networking, finding mentors and acclimating to a new work life.

Panel Members:

  • Joshua Hartley, Manager, Marine Corps Veteran
  • Julio Reid, Manager, Navy Veteran
  • Gavin Kostoglian, Senior Associate, Army Veteran
  • Brittany Ryan, Manager, Army Veteran
  • Adam Locklin, Manager, Marine Corps Veteran

Timestamps:

  • 0:00-1:26 – Panel Introductions
  • 1:27-3:16 – Advice on Transitioning Out of the Military
  • 3:17-4:10 – How Early Should People in the Military Plan the Transition Process
  • 4:10-5:43 – Advice for Those That Have to Make a Quick Transition
  • 5:44-6:46 – Organizations Used to Support Transition From the Military
  • 6:47-8:40 – Recommendations on Landing an Interview With a Company
  • 8:41-11:13 – Tools on Networking and Finding Mentors
  • 11:14-14:06 – How to Use Your Military Experience to Acclimate
  • 14:07-15:54 – How to Adapt
  • 15:55-18:31 – Understanding the Opportunities That Are Available to You
  • 18:32-21:21 – Dealing With the Loss of a Service Member While in a New Environment
  • 21:22-21:53 – Wrap Up

Phil Johnson

HR Manager

Comcast — Oregon/SW Washington Region

U.S. Air Force veteran

Best advice for transitioning service members?

Use your GI Bill! I started going to school as soon as I started with Comcast. It wasn't a race, and sometimes I would just take one class online. I worked full time and still managed to get my bachelor's degree.

What tactics worked best in your job search?

Using the internet and all the available resources out there. Also, talking to people and networking. If you have the opportunity, try to job shadow. I almost followed in my father's footsteps by becoming a police officer. I did several ride-alongs with various police departments before joining Comcast and thought that was what I really wanted to do for a career…until I joined Comcast (I made the right decision).

Janet Mays

HR Coordinator

Cable Entertainment, NBCUniversal

Army Reserve officer

Watch this video about Janet.

What is the most important information or advice you received regarding the process of balancing your military and civilian careers? Please be specific.

The most important information I received regarding the process of balancing my military and civilian careers is to preplan your annual commitments. In terms of the military, map out what your year will look like considering annual training, professional development and military education, battle assembly weekends, etc. Then, think about your annual commitments for your civilian job. If anything overlaps, you'll have plenty of time to talk to both employers to figure out how to balance both commitments.

Best advice for transitioning service members or Reserve component service members balancing their military and civilian careers?

The best advice I can give regarding the process of balancing your military and civilian careers is to try and blend the two. I continuously look for opportunities to apply what I've learned from one position to the other, and vice versa. For example, when I learned a new Excel trick from my civilian job, I immediately applied it to my military job. I was able to create a workbook that streamlined the tracking of pertinent information. As a result, my readiness metrics have improved and my leaders are spending less time manually tracking the health of their platoons. I also look for opportunities to intertwine both careers. For example, in the past I've invited my Talent Acquisition (TA) Team at NBCUniversal to host an Officer/NCO Developmental Program for my company. During their hour-block on the training schedule, TA conducted a résumé review, gave social media tips and discussed possible opportunities at NBCUniversal.

Robert Burns

Recruiter

Comcast — West Division

U.S. Army veteran

What is the most important information or advice you received, before or during your own transition, regarding the process of going from the military to the civilian workforce? Please be specific.

Be able to talk about yourself and your military service accomplishments when in conversations, with examples and specifics without coming off as arrogant or conceited, especially while attending networking events.

Best advice for transitioning service members?

Start preparing early, get professional help with your résumé (there are many nonprofits that do outstanding work), order professional business cards, have a family meeting, regularly attend professional networking events and take advantage of the many transition programs afforded on your military installation (and if there are none, find one at the nearest sister branch installation and get involved).

Sam Waltzer

Project Manager

Comcast Military and Veteran Affairs

Army National Guard officer

Watch this video about Sam.

What is the most important information or advice you received regarding the process of balancing your military and civilian careers? Please be specific.

Be upfront with both military commanders and civilian supervisors regarding the obligations of each career. Be sure your civilian supervisors know your military schedule and obligations as far in advance as possible, and that your military commanders know about the requirements of your civilian career. With good support and planning, everything can be balanced. Also, share your accomplishments in each career with your supervisors. This may lead your supervisors in each career to more eagerly support your other obligations.

Best advice for transitioning service members or Reserve component service members balancing their military and civilian careers?

Seek out civilian employers supportive of the military community! Don't consider continuing to serve in the military or finding a fulfilling civilian career as mutually exclusive options. Examine the company's military reservist benefits, any ESGR awards and the company's support of veterans and military spouses. Unfortunately, some civilian employers support service in the Reserve Components more than others, but by seeking out a supportive employer, it is possible to have the best of both worlds. I am fortunate to work for Comcast NBCUniversal and receive first-class benefits and support for my military career while I advance in my civilian career.

Ernest Easter

Customer Account Executive

Comcast Business

Army National Guard member

Watch this video about Ernest.

What is the most important information or advice you received regarding the process of balancing your military and civilian careers? Please be specific.

The most important information or advice that I received regarding the process of balancing my military and civilian career is to first remember the key word "balance." Never take on more than you can handle or you could tip the scale forcing that excess to pour onto your civilian career. We do a dangerous job and there are a lot of stressors that if you do not speak to someone about or take a moment to yourself it can burn you out, and this is not a weight that you would want to carry with you at your civilian job. Be thankful for everyday and leave all worries behind you.

Best advice for transitioning service members or Reserve component service members balancing their military and civilian careers?

There will be times when you may feel overwhelmed trying to juggle both a military and civilian career, times when some days are better than others. Just remember no matter what the issue may be, every situation has an expiration date or season that will pass and a new day will bring more opportunities than the last — a fresh start in which you could make a difference in the lives of many, as well as the opportunity to be a valuable asset to your employer.

Tauni Crefeld served as an Air Force Security Police captain for five years, responsible for up to 50 security police resources. Before joining the military, she graduated from the U.S. Air Force Academy with a B.S. in Engineering. After leaving the Air Force, Tauni joined Accenture as an analyst — at new joiner level — and 19 years later is a Managing Director in the company's Communications, Media and Technology Consulting practice, leading large complex delivery projects for clients.

Why are veterans a great fit for professional careers?

Veterans improvise, adapt and overcome. We get thrown into lots of different, unexpected situations in the military, and you must adapt. The consulting world is very similar. Consultants take on different clients and projects — they must be flexible, able to learn on-the-go and comfortable with change. A career in the military lends itself well to consulting. I also find Accenture to be very collaborative and team-oriented, which fits the spirit of camaraderie that veterans experience in their team or squadron.

What challenges do veterans face when transitioning?

The mission is fundamentally different. I was an Air Force Security Police captain running around with M-16s. After the military, I had to put down my gun and pick up a laptop. Skills like cyber security are directly applicable and easily transfer to the workplace. But infantry men and women, or military police, have fundamentally different skills that aren't as easily transferable — though they have skills like leadership and ingenuity that are extremely valuable in the civilian workforce. Companies in the private sector can miss the mark on helping veterans translate their military jargon into professional skills — there needs to be a lens to translate. Our veteran recruiting team, all veterans themselves, help provide that lens. "When you say 'logistics,' you mean 'supply chain.'" Simple things like that go a long way.

Advice for veterans looking for a career in the professional world?

You have to be willing to step back and learn. If you've been out there leading troops, you might start professionally in a lower ranking position — and you must be willing to do that. If you enter the private sector expecting you'll be the same level, or lead teams of people on day one, you may struggle. It's all about learning and adaption to advance.

Lt. Gen. (R) Mary Legere joined Accenture's Federal Services as a Managing Director to help the company bring the best cyber and intelligence capabilities to national defense intelligence and cyber clients. Prior to joining Accenture, Mary served for 34 years in the U.S. Army as an Intelligence Officer, with tours in Korea, Germany, the Balkans and Iraq.

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