Military Appreciation Month: Employee Perspectives
With observances including Memorial Day, Military Spouse Appreciation Day, and Armed Forces Day, it’s fitting that May has been designated Military Appreciation Month. It’s also a special month to Endgame, as we not only count members of the armed forces as valued customers, but we ARE members of the armed forces. Endgame employees represent all branches of the U.S. military, with some continuing to serve in the National Guard and Reserves.
To recognize the service of these men and women in uniform, Endgame has partnered with the DC Chapter of Team Red, White, and Blue (Team RWB) in support of the organization’s mission to enrich the lives of veterans by connecting them to the communities they serve. Team RWB has dozens of chapters across the country and more than 115,000 members. While our contribution pales in comparison to the service of these men and women, we are honored by the opportunity to demonstrate our appreciation for the sacrifices they have made – both past and present.
On Saturday, May 4, we will be hosting members of Team RWB in Arlington, VA for lunch and a private screening of Avengers: Endgame. We couldn’t think of a more fitting way to show thanks to our heroes in uniform than by watching some heroic acts on the big screen!
We are also thrilled that so many of our employee veterans volunteered to share what their military service means to them. Below are a few of their stories:
Sr. Vice President, Customer Success
Lieutenant Commander, U.S. Navy
Rick served in the U.S. Navy for 12 years (six active and six reserve) and as a civilian in the U.S. Air Force also for six years.
He began his military career serving in the Navy Supply Corps, where he practiced a variety of disciplines including supply management, inventory control and financial management. After six years managing logistics, he left active duty and became a reservist in the Navy and civilian in the Air Force, both roles focused on information warfare.
What he appreciated most during his service was the opportunity to grow as a leader, further his education, and serve his country while traveling the world. In his words, “I both served and was served by the military.”
Rick credits much of what he learned about leadership to his time in the Navy. Upon reporting to his first ship in his early 20s he immediately had more than 35 direct reports, some of whom were twice his age. The early career experience taught him at least two critical life lessons: The importance of listening to and learning from senior enlisted personnel regardless of rank, and the value of humility in leading teams.
“As a veteran, when I see people in uniform I thank them for their service. No service is easy service. I was fortunate to serve outside of wartime, but a lot of service men and women put their lives on the line. It’s important to remember, respect and appreciate that every day because they ensure our freedom.”
Sr. Threat Hunter and Technical Training Manager
Sergeant E-5, U.S. Army
Joe served four years in the U.S. Army. He credits the Army with giving his life direction early on and providing a great start to his career.
There’s a saying in the Army: Right time, right place, right uniform. According to Joe, it’s a lesson he takes to work with him every morning, “The basics are of paramount importance - they show discipline, accountability, and dependability. Things fall into place when you start with a solid foundation.”
While serving, Joe also learned a lot about team bonding and working together as a cohesive unit. He cites working alongside people from diverse backgrounds, cultures, and ages in an atmosphere where every individual is valuable to the mission as broadening his perspective and appreciation for others’ views. That’s why he’s also proud to count many of the individuals he served with, including his former leadership, among his closest friends today.
“Without the military I wouldn’t be where I am today. It gave a great start to my career and great values along the way. It was extremely beneficial and I’m still very proud to have made the decision.”
Sr. Payroll Accounting Manager
O-2, U.S. Army
Rachael joined the Army during her senior year of college and spent eight years in service. While finishing her undergraduate degree in Accounting, Rachael had the opportunity to work at the university she was attending in her field. As a young person entering the workforce, the experience showed her the benefit of an educational background, while also exposing the importance and value of personal development.
Rachael set out to take learning one step further and decided to join the military to enter a committed obligation in serving others, and to pursue travel, character building and cultural exposure. She viewed Soldiers as an esteemed class of strong, focused, selfless, honorable individuals who lived with an air of integrity and purpose. Qualities she knew would enhance the trajectory of her future and serve as a life-long tool.
After meeting with recruiters from every branch of the U.S. military the Army became the obvious choice, giving her the opportunity to pursue graduate studies, while providing a financial and administrative program that worked with her career path.She learned both leadership and teamwork from military service, including the importance of discipline, communication skills and focus. In her words, “Being in service instilled in me a mindset of togetherness, which kept me accountable for my individual contribution to the mission, and how that affects others around me. There is strength in numbers!” (Spoken by a “numbers” person!)
Rachael continues to live into the mantra that there is no “I” in team. The Army gave her the opportunity to learn it young and carry that lifelong lesson of caring about others into her daily interactions. At Endgame, she is conscious of the team, how we grow, what our mission and values are together, and how her contributions map to company goals. What she enjoyed most about her time in service was the camaraderie and unity with people from different walks of life, being able to band together for a shared mission.
“Service made me a stronger person. I learned that we can accomplish more together than I ever would on my own. I believe that the power of connectivity has no limits.”
BRIAN H WILLIAMS
Sr. Federal Account Director
Major, US Air Force
Brian spent more than 20 years as a Communications and Cyber Operations Officer in the U.S. Air Force – a career he knew he wanted to pursue even as a teenager. He planned to join the Air Force out of high school with an eye toward becoming an air traffic controller. But life had other plans. Lacking an opening for the position he had in mind, Brian pursued an undergraduate degree in computer science and graduated from Louisiana Tech before accepting an Air Force ROTC scholarship to continue his education and join the service.
What he most enjoyed most about his time in the Air Force was the sense of accomplishment in doing something bigger than himself. “I had a lot of friends that graduated with me, taking jobs that made a lot more money. But every time we would deploy – whether it was in a combat zone or for a humanitarian mission – we were doing it for somebody else and something bigger than making a paycheck. I was honored to contribute to the welfare of our country and others around the world.”
His most important learning? Recognizing that he didn’t have to be the smartest person in the room. Whether he had a unit of 10 people or 10,000 people working for him, he learned the key to success was to intelligently use the resources available to be the most effective and efficient at accomplishing the mission. It’s a lesson Brian applies equally to his career at and Endgame and in his personal life.
“Endgame has a great culture and employs a number of people with military experience. That combination is part of what makes this company so effective. We never say never. Across the board – everybody brings that attitude to the table.”
Captain, U.S. Marine Corps
Fresh out of Dartmouth and years before he would write his bestselling book, One Bullet Away, Nate knew he didn’t want to follow the career path that so many of his classmates were on. Banking, law or medicine held little appeal. He knew he wanted to contribute back to society in the form of public service and he wasn’t afraid of a challenge. The opportunity to take on both while gaining a lesson in leadership led him to join the U.S. Marines.
While on active duty, Nate discovered a knack for building and leading diverse teams under tough circumstances, a role in which he found himself from 1999 to 2004, during the kickoff of the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. He counts the opportunity to lead teams during those years as the most humbling and gratifying of his career.
By his estimation, military experience is one of the few places in American life that gives young people a lot of real responsibility. It’s not the only place, of course - being in the Peace Corps or taking on a teaching role in an inner-city school are similar. In each case, it gives a young person the opportunity to be a part of something bigger than themselves.
One of the questions Nate gets asked regularly is what he learned in business school that he applies to running Endgame. But, he explains, a lot of what he relies on every day he learned in the Marines. And they’re simple things – ones most of us learn in kindergarten: Treat people the way you want to be treated; often times, half the battle is just showing up; and, it’s really all about grit.
According to Nate, there is no linear path to success. Whether an individual career or building a business over time, things only look linear and smooth in hindsight. The reality is that it can feel like a knife fight every single day. But the role of a leader is to articulate the vision, build the team, establish and maintain the culture, and make sure you equip people to do their jobs.
People often think of the military as a very hierarchical, top-down organization, but that wasn’t Nate’s experience at all. As a Junior Officer in the Marines, he saw a ton of authority and responsibility delegated out to very junior leaders. And that’s just the template he is using for building and running a fast-paced organization.
“There isn’t time for centralized decision making. Hire great people, make sure they are operating in shared context, and give them the freedom to do their jobs. It was true in the Marine units I served in and it’s certainly true here at Endgame.”