‘The Right Veteran Is Out There’

We asked the winners of our 4th annual Patriots in Business Awards to share tips on how to get better at hiring and retaining veterans. Here’s what they had to say.

Presented annually by Chief Executive and Thayer Leadership, the Patriots in Business Awards are part of an ongoing effort to raise awareness of best practices among America’s corporate leaders in helping military veterans and their families.

This year’s winners were Bristol Myers Squibb, Greencastle Associates Consulting and Principle Services and USAA. We asked their CEOs to share some learnings/tips on how to get better at the essential skill of engaging veterans. Here’s what they had to say:

‘DON’T WAIT, START NOW’

Giovanni Caforio, M.D., CEO, Bristol Myers Squibb, winner in the large-company category.

BIG TAKEAWAY: “It’s been very important to gain the buy-in and commitment of business leaders. Managers need to understand the value of having veterans and military spouses in the organization. Resilience, discipline, flexibility and leadership are all traits that these candidates and employees possess. Also, it’s important for managers and co-workers to understand what the transition process may look like for many veterans and their families.”

BEST ADVICE: “Don’t wait, start now. Look within the organization to find employees who are passionate about increasing veteran representation. Once you have identified that group, share the organization’s vision and then empower the group to make decisions.”

‘THEY NEED TRAINING, GUIDANCE AND DIRECTION’

Joe Crandall, former Navy SEAL and CEO of Pennsylvania-based project management firm Greencastle Associates Consulting, winner in the medium-size business category.

BIG TAKEAWAY: “As CEO, it’s my responsibility to ensure that my employees are the right person for the right job. But beyond that, they need training, guidance and direction. The programs we developed give the individual and team the left and right limits, goals to be accomplished and the intent. Equipped with this and the authority to make decisions in a trusting work environment are all that we need to see superior results.”

BEST ADVICE: “The right veteran is out there for almost any need you have within your company. Veterans in the combat arms portions of the military are given massive amounts of authority and responsibility to lead people in arduous situations. This is how the best leaders are discovered. Every company can take advantage of these well-trained, highly qualified leaders if they know where and how to find them.”

‘HOLD YOUR TEAM ACCOUNTABLE’

Troy Vaughn, 2004 West Point graduate and president and majority owner of Texas-based project management firm Principle Services, the winner in the small-business category.

BIG TAKEAWAY: “In seeking out and investing in the military community, the gains are abundant. Ultimately, good intentions are only as productive as the discipline that you’re willing to apply.”

BEST ADVICE: “Educate your team, build processes that are repeatable and hold your team accountable to meeting your ideas for helping veterans and their families. While most hiring managers and human resource personnel appreciate veterans, there is still a gap between veterans articulating their value and civilians understanding veteran vernacular. You must provide education to your team and coach veterans to bridge that gap.”

‘HIRING IS JUST THE START’

Wayne Peacock, president and CEO of the financial services group USAA, the winner in the military service business category.

BIG TAKEAWAY: “Any company that wants to make a difference by connecting veterans and military spouses to meaningful careers must be committed to the cause and dedicate appropriate resources to make it happen. That doesn’t happen on its own. To be successful requires top-down leadership commitment with an enterprise approach and a community of passionate advocates, from recruiters and talent acquisition specialists to managers who recognize the value of hiring military-affiliated employees. You also have to be willing to inspire others by sharing your best practices and learning from them.”

BEST ADVICE: “CEOs must be willing to hold their leaders accountable for measurable outcomes that support attracting, developing and retaining military-affiliated employees. Hiring is just the start. Creating conditions to grow and advance is the key to sustained progress.”

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