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
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.