Recently, I was invited to join a panel of distinguished veterans in Washington, DC sponsored by The Daily Beast. The Hero Summit was a time of reflection for us as well as an opportunity to share our thoughts on why veterans make great hires.

I began my 14-year career at AT&T two years before the tragedy of 9-11. I had been an Army Signal Officer and project manager for the Army’s network management systems I had several years experience leading teams integrating Operations Support Systems, which prepared me well for my new role as an engineering manager at AT&T Labs. The connection from my position in the army to my role at AT&T seems an obvious one, but there were other reasons I think AT&T was a fit for me.

I was living in Fair Haven, New Jersey on September 11, and working at the AT&T Labs facility in Middletown when commercial airliners crashed into the World Trade Center towers. In addition to the incredible loss of life, the nation was faced with a major challenge: how to quickly reopen financial markets and get the business world back to work. It was amazing to see how my company jumped into action.

Within hours, Network Disaster Recovery systems were deployed and AT&T identified a leadership team to manage the disaster recovery effort. I was designated to manage software systems support. Having been a signal officer responsible for managing tactical networks in Iraq many years earlier, this was a familiar role.

My colleagues and I shared the same action-oriented resolve that I’d come to know in the military. Several hundred people on the team worked around the clock with incredible enthusiasm to provision new services to customers in the financial district and lower Manhattan. This was a massive undertaking. I was also intrigued to see how AT&T leadership worked with many of the blue-chip financial customers who were impacted by the tragedy to manage their expectations as we worked to restore their communications.

Reflecting on this experience many years later, it seems to me that I, as a veteran, was in the right place at the right time:

  • I was trained to manage contingency operations in the military. Those skills came directly into play. 
  • I was trained to be a leader and to foster teamwork. As soldiers we were taught tenacity, time management and to work hard and get the job done right.
  • Most importantly, the military instills integrity. All of these so-called “soft skills” came to bear for me as I worked alongside my new colleagues at AT&T in 2001, and those same qualities prepared me for the positions I would hold until now.

Before the Hero Summit concluded, the moderator asked me if I thought there was a difference between veterans from the early wars and the veterans who are now returning from Iraq and Afghanistan. My answer was no -- because the same values and skills are instilled in all of us. I did note one specific difference; younger veterans are a bit more tech-savvy than the generation before.

The timing is right for them as well, given the rapid pace of technology development. I was excited to hear that AT&T had announced a goal in 2013 to hire 5,000 veterans and their family members over five years and that the company had managed to hire 3,600 already this year. I was incredibly thrilled to learn that we would double that goal to 10,000 in time for Veterans Day.

I can’t think of a better way to honor a vet than to hire one that needs a job. Veterans are uniquely prepared for positions in great companies like AT&T, and I am extremely proud that I found my civilian career here.

I can’t think of a better way to honor a vet than to hire one that needs a job. Veterans are uniquely prepared for positions in great companies like AT&T, and I am extremely proud that I found my civilian career here.

Join AT&T’s Chris Norton, “The Military Guy”, at 3 p.m. ET, Friday, November 8 for a Twitter chat about how to transition successfully from the military to a civilian career. Follow @chrisnorton37 and #ATTVetChat.

This post originally appeared on the AT&T Consumer Blog.


About the Author

Carl Tegan

Executive Director of Government Solutions

carl_tegen

Carl Tegen, Executive Director of Government Solutions, is based in Columbia, MD.

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