FWB Park Brown held its first transitioning military officer and Special Ops Breakfast on Wednesday, November 28th in downtown Houston. We expect this event to be an annual event moving forward, as the response received from those who participated was overwhelming.
The idea is simple, first place business leaders in a comfortable environment to network with military leaders who are either newly transitioned or transitioning soon. Many of the business leaders were military brothers and sisters, making the advice given more impactful as it was from a place of knowledge. Our speakers were Ann Fox, the CEO of Nine Energy Service and former Marine Corps Captain, alongside Jason Hitchcock, a former Navy Seal and current Director of Leadership Development for Nine Energy Service.
Ann’s message was geared for those leaders in the room. She spoke about her transition, and path that led her from the Marine Corps, through Harvard Business School and ultimately the CEO desk of Nine Energy Service. She spoke about the benefits military leaders bring to the executive level including but not limited to:
- A servant/leader mentality
- Being a highly strategic thinker, that can work effectively under pressure
- A desire to work for a mission and not a paycheck
- Staying agile while working through a crisis
The servant leader model is one that is rare in the civilian world, but common practice in the military. Leaders that come out of the military have a habit of putting their team in front of their individual needs. They believe in serving those they lead, and that the role of a leader is to be of service to those around them. In other words, the job of a leader is to assist those that report to him or her, not the other way around.
She was sure to also highlight the fact that her military brothers and sisters don’t want to work for a paycheck, they want to work for a mission. They are passionate about bringing value, not punching a clock. Military leaders seem to be strong strategic thinkers that work effectively under pressure and almost thrive in a crisis. While others may be more apt to shut down in a catastrophe, most military leaders think they may actually flourish and draw energy from this type of event. Since many of them have been operating for multiple years in high pressure situations, operating in a crisis is second nature.
Jason shared his extremely structured process of how he searched for his next career upon transitioning. While he was preparing to exit the United States Navy, he focused on his plan of action which included:
- Defining his new purpose (help make America energy independent)
- Preparation and research of his targeted industry
- Identifying through his network 22 leaders of that industry
- Asking each of them a series of well thought out questions, while seeking referrals
- Meeting 18 of them in the course of a 1 week period
- Receiving multiple job offers
- Choosing the one position that best served his purpose
The focus of Jason’s speech was centered around purpose. As a job seeker, one should have purpose prior to doing the research. Doing the research is a certainty to have any measure of success, but military leaders need to identify their new purpose first. There is a higher likelihood one will meander through the next phase of their career without it. Constantly searching for something that can’t be defined, while at the same time knowing something is missing, is not a formula for success.
Jason and Ann both did wonderful jobs explaining what it takes to have a successful transition, as well as what leaders should be expecting from senior military officers entering the civilian workforce. They each redefined their mission and purpose upon exiting the military. They grew their personal networks and leveraged their contacts to position themselves into careers that were not only equal to their abilities, but had growth to expand their potential.
As the breakfast adjourned, what was already known was proved yet again, networking is the most effective method for getting a job. Therefore, it was and will remain the cornerstone of this event moving forward. We have already begun planning the 2019 event.