Military Title: Captain, Armor
Military Branch: United States Army
Tell us about your current role—how would you describe what you do to someone else who doesn’t work at Nestlé?
I provide technical assistance to the different markets; every operating company from Nestlé Purina and prepared foods and ice cream to Nestlé Waters. I aim to develop programs and tools that help them do their jobs easier and/or more efficiently.
How did you find yourself at Nestlé?
My previous experience was in the military, and when I planned to exit, I did not have a job lined up, so I had to do a lot of job hunting. I finally landed a job as a Production Supervisor, and worked in various supervisory roles in warehouses before beginning at Nestlé. I started as a Maintenance Supervisor and Maintenance Planner in Jonesboro, AR. I then went to work for the Nestlé USA GFIT (Global Field Implementation Team) to get all the Nestlé USA factories live in SAP. This project lasted six years before I accepted my current role as a Regional Business Solutions Specialist. In short, I implement new projects and tools for use at the market level.
Tell us more about your military background.
I graduated from United States Military Academy at West Point in 1985. I attended Armor Officer Basic Course at Fort Knox. I served two years as an Executive Officer of a Basic Training Company in Ft. Leonard Wood, MO. Then, I went to Friedberg, Germany for 4.5 years with an Armor (Tanks) unit. I was a Platoon Leader, Deputy Subcommunity Commander Executive Officer, meaning I was responsible for dealing with the dependents of all the soldiers on the Caserne and other activities, and then a Battalion Maintenance Officer for an Armor Battalion. I went to Desert Storm at that time and spent six months in Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, and Iraq. Upon return, I deployed back to Fort Knox where I became a Project Officer for revamping the training of National Guard and Reserve Armor Units. I then got out of the military as part of the RIF (Reduction in Forces) Program.
Describe your transition from the military to the civilian world.
When I got out of the military, I was unemployed for about a month. I did a lot of knocking on doors and visiting companies to get my résumé in front of them before I finally landed a job. I tried several of the recruitment fairs, specifically aimed at junior military officers, with few results. I don’t know that companies at that time knew what they were really looking for as far as military talent. The recruiters were just interested in filling a slot, even if you weren’t the best qualified or if it was your best choice.
In your opinion, what are the most important transferable skills from the military to the corporate world?
Ability to adapt. Ability to take charge and make difficult decisions. Ability to handle crisis when needed and go with little or no guidance.
What, if any, obstacles did you face upon transitioning out of the military?
Sometimes it was difficult to understand the motivation (or lack thereof) of the people working with or for you. In the Army, there is a lot of Esprit de Corp and people were there because they wanted to be. There was a sense of teamwork. They knew they made a difference, so it was a matter of guiding to get the job done. I have been in some jobs, luckily not with Nestlé, where people are only there for the paycheck, and to do as little as possible.
Why Nestlé? What led you here and why have you stayed with the company?
I liked the stability of the organization and being part of greater Nestlé. The organization is diversified enough that when one market is down, another will be up and they are very thorough in thinking about what companies/businesses they get into.
Why would you refer other veterans to work at Nestlé?
It’s a good place to work with the potential to grow because of the sheer size of the company.
What advice would you give to others preparing to transition from the military?
Give yourself a lot of lead time. Don’t rely on "head hunters" (recruiters) to find you a job. Make sure you have some savings, and that your whole family is ready for the transition. Most importantly, you will need to be actively involved. Also, contact a résumé writer who specializes in transferring your skills, duties, and job responsibilities into something that the civilian work place can understand.
Can you share a special or funny memory from your time in the military?
My unit went to Hohenfels, Germany which is a training area for tank units. I was the Battalion Maintenance Officer at the time and had about 60 guys that worked either directly or indirectly for me. Right as we were getting ready to start our maneuvers, it started raining and the dust that Hohenfels was known for turned into soupy mud. The tanks kept getting stuck and my guys would be running around pulling them out. We spent five days, muddy and nasty, eating cold MREs (Meals Ready to Eat, or so they claimed), with very little sleep, yet my guys were happy because they were doing their job and having a good time.