Q: What branch did you serve in the military and how long?
A: Upon graduation from West Point in 2008, I was commissioned as an Engineer Officer in the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. I spent five years and three months in the Army as an Engineer, Scout, and Logistician.
Q: What is your current role at Amazon and what do you do?
A: I currently work as a Senior Materials Program Manager within the Advanced Product Operations team at Amazon Lab126. Every day I get to work with incredible engineering, software, and operations teams that are building amazing products for our customers.
Q: How do you think your military experience helps you in your current role at Amazon?
A: The two greatest skills I learned in the Army that help me in my role today are team leadership and complex problem solving. In the Army, I was fortunate enough to lead and work on many teams ranging from four to six hundred soldiers. I also had the opportunity to work on complex projects such as building schools and medical clinics in southern Iraq and setting up supply chains from Colorado Springs to Afghanistan.
Q: What is one thing you wish you knew before transitioning?
A: As part of my transition from the Army, I went to the Haas School of Business at UC Berkeley to receive an MBA. During my two years in school, I worked hard to transform my resume from military jargon into something that companies could understand. What I discovered was that many of the skills I had developed in the military were highly valuable to hiring managers in the business world…I just had to communicate them in a way that was void of military lexicon. I think it is very important that veterans understand that companies place a lot of value in our experiences and skill sets. The challenge for us is to find the best way to bridge the communication gap between military and business terminology.
Q: Were you able to use Amazon in a peculiar way in the military?
A: The best purchase I have ever made on Amazon was a Wilson TDS Football and Franklin hand pump. I bought these two products in 2010 when I was stationed in Iraq. Amazon was able to send these to my small outpost in a very rural part of the country. I was a platoon leader at the time and this football and pump were extremely important to the morale of the 30 soldiers in my unit. We played football every day during the deployment in our helicopter landing area!
Q: Do you have any advice for transitioning service members?
A: Get out there and connect with the larger veteran community currently working in the industry that you find most interesting. Veterans are always happy to talk to and mentor other veterans that are looking to transition. There are great organizations like Vet Tech Trek and Veterati that can help you connect to veterans within a specific industry.