Veterans Thrive in Second Careers at Cisco
Social Media, Thought Leadership, Public Sector
Veterans Day in the U.S. is a day to honor those who have served our country. Veterans who now work for Cisco are a special part of the Cisco family. Not only do they provide unique insight into the workings of the military, they bring skills that translate surprisingly easily from the battlefield to a technical operations center.
Mark Rogers has served in the Army National Guard for the past 17 years, and for the past five years he has been a US National Security & Defense Advisor for Cisco’s U.S. Public Sector. He calls himself a National Security Advisor instead of the more traditional Sales Business Development Manager title because his various military/federal agent customers understand that language. “Being a ‘National Security Advisor’ gets me through the door 100% of the time,” he says. “I know what these operators are looking for and what they need to hear.”
Many veterans don’t realize how valuable their military skills can be in the corporate world. Rogers was recruited to Cisco by a friend of his from the Army. He was surprised to learn that Cisco was specifically looking for veterans to leverage their military experience. He soon realized how many transferrable skills he possessed. “Being a self-motivated person from the military along with the training in task management – how to conquer and take on big things – completely translated over to Cisco and has helped me with my success,” says Rogers.
For Joe Beel, who served in the Navy for 29 years, it was more obvious which of his skills related to working at Cisco. He started out as a helicopter pilot, but then moved to a more technology and business-focused role, including eleven years as an Acquisition Professional, three years running the field services organization for Naval Aviation, and eight years in Command, Control, Communications, Computers, Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance (C4ISR). “The last 12 years I was on the business side,” says Beel. “I understand profit and loss because my last command was revenue-driven with a target of zero profit.”
Knowing how the military works is definitely an advantage. Beel currently works as a Strategic Programs Manager at Cisco, and he understands exactly what the Navy is looking for because he worked with Cisco in his Navy role. Mark Rogers also feels like his military experience helped prepare him for his work at Cisco. “My job at Cisco finds me in Tactical Operations Centers and Strategic Operational Centers, NICs, NOCs, TICs, TOCs,” says Rogers. “And I have been in them, I’ve run them, I’ve been the battle captain in a lot of those. So it’s so easy for me to be around these commanders who are actually with the agencies that we support, vs. a traditional salesperson with no military experience.”
There is another advantage to working at Cisco after a career in the military. Many men and women join the military because they feel called to serve their country. At Cisco, they can continue to do that even after they have left the military. Kermit Graham was with the Marine Corps for 13 years. “When you wear a uniform, you are there to support a mission for your country,” he says. “While we aren’t wearing a uniform, we are there to support our customers, who are protecting and serving our country.” And for those who choose to continue serving in the National Guard in addition to their role at Cisco, Cisco is a supportive environment. National Guardsmen and Guardswomen know their jobs at Cisco will be waiting for them when they return from a deployment.
Courtney Beard, who is both a member of the Air Force National Guard and a Network Consulting Engineer for the U.S. Global Delivery Center at Cisco, appreciates being able to do both. “Cisco has always been extremely flexible,” she says.
“I am able to work for Cisco during the week and work for the Air Force on the weekends. It’s always very interesting to go back and forth between wearing the uniform with boots with the Air Force to wearing a dress and heels for Cisco, but I consider myself extremely lucky to be able to do both careers.”
Veterans at Cisco continue to serve in other ways as well, such as spending time mentoring people who are still serving in the military. “The veterans at Cisco are constantly giving back to people who are still serving – helping them prepare and move along,” says Joe Beel. “The giving back and helping never stops.” It’s a valuable service, and both sides win – veterans understand how they might fit in at Cisco, and Cisco gains top-notch employees. “Sometimes it’s hard for these men and women to relate to the value they can bring to the work force,” says Graham. “I have been helping some fighter pilots figure out how to transition out of the military and they are asking– what does being a fighter pilot have to do with IT? Well, their leadership and decision-making skills while under pressure, to start with. I can help them understand how their skills translate into the civilian workforce.”
Beard has this inspirational advice for veterans considering a career transition: “As a veteran, you possess such a rare set of skills, qualities, and characteristics that many others do not. Recognize these qualities and realize your worth. Any great company, like Cisco, will recognize your worth as well. Don’t settle for less than what you deserve.”
Watch: Military Veterans Thrive in Careers at Cisco [LINK TO https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iCRsLuoMgOU]
Watch: Veterans Put Their Skills to Use at Cisco [LINK TO https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IemyCx66JZ4]