In this special episode, we were honored to feature some local Vets in Tech working in the Arizona technology community.
Featured in this episode (view full bios and pictures here):
Michael Guggemos, Chief Information Officer, Insight. Mike left high school at 17 to join the U.S. Army, serving 10 years at posts across the world including Europe and Asia.
Kelly Greene, Chief Operating Officer for the Arizona Technology Council Foundation, Director of Student Success. Kelly started her military career at the age of 17 and served in the US Army for 21 years, going on three combat tours, two in Iraq and one in Afghanistan.
Curt Cornum, Vice President of Global Business Transformation, Insight. Curt left home at 19 to join the Marine Corps where he worked on Doppler radar and infrared mapping systems on reconnaissance jets while aboard a Navy aircraft carrier.
Jeff Hodges, Director of Global IT Operations, Insight served in the United States Air Force for five years as a Cryptographic Maintenance Technician. Jeff obtained the rank of Sergeant with a final assignment was at the Pentagon in Washington, D.C.
Taking Feedback Like a Vet
Something each of our Vets could commiserate on was receiving feedback, both ambiguous and direct.
“There was a lot of structure around getting feedback. If you understood the structure, you could take advantage of it in a very big way,” Curt explains.
Working with other vets who are talented at giving and receiving feedback can make it more challenging to work with professionals without a military experience.
“People are more productive when people know what is expected of them and when it is expected to be completed,” says Kelly. “Everything in the military is black and white. You know if you or didn’t meet the standards. Figuring out how non-veterans work has been a challenge.”
“I Just Feel More Comfortable Around Other Vets”
There is an intimate group of industry military veterans in the Phoenix Valley who connect and get together on a monthly basis.
When asked why it’s important to continue this tradition and socialize with other vets, Mike shared:
“What I learned is there’s an immediate bond between vets. There isn’t as much office politics when a group of veterans is involved. Vets are used to walking around in a uniform, a walking resume. You can immediately tell whether people have been deployed and to where, what experience they have from technical schools, and if they’ve been deployed to combat. You can look at their sleeve or collar and know how much money they make. If you fake something, people will call you on it.”
Veterans find it more natural to be transparent, particularly in the workplace.
“As long as I knew what I was doing, it didn’t matter that I was a female.”
Serving as a female in the Army has conditioned Kelly well to take on her current position as a woman in STEM Education. But working alongside mostly men didn’t intimidate Kelly, it empowered her.
“I frequently had other forces who wanted to take a picture of me next to my machine gun, surprised that a woman was allowed to be in that position,” Kelly remembers of her time abroad.
A few other soundbites from the episode:
“You’re not a tree. If you don’t like where you’re at, move.” – Kelly Greene
If you have an idea of something you want to do or something new you want to learn, it’s never too late to reinvent yourself. And tech is the perfect place to do it.
“The sun will come out tomorrow…” – Mike Guggemos (and Annie)
“Work; do your best, and good things will come. Don’t get too caught up on the small things you’re hating right now. The sun will come out tomorrow.”
Listen to the full episode here.