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 Driving Your Future

Opportunities in the automotive industry can steer your career in a whole new direction, especially if you’re a veteran.
Many industries, including the automotive industry, are hoping military veterans can help them be more profitable and are actively seeking to hire them. Automobile companies hope veterans will help them produce and sell more cars, rent more cars and provide safer auto parts for them.
Corporate leaders know that, in the military, servicemen and -women learned valuable skills such as leadership, perseverance and dependability - all skills that can transfer easily to the civilian workplace. Companies want and need those skills, so they hope to hire veterans and transitioning veterans to help them attain their goals.
Here are five driven veterans who steered toward opportunity and have made post-military careers in the automotive industry.
Brockman Ascends to Director Position at O’Reilly
O’Reilly Auto Parts actively recruits military veterans, members of military families, and men and women currently serving in the military.
Cedric Brockman, presently the Springfield MO-based auto parts retailer’s director of safety, environmental and regulatory compliance, can attest to this. In fact, he was drawn to join the company full-time because of this and the similarities he sees between serving in the military and working for O’Reilly for more than two decades.
He started working in the auto parts industry in 1988. In 1991 he started working part-time with O’Reilly between military assignments. He retired from the U.S. Air Force in 2005 after 20 years of service.
“I knew the direction I was going to take upon retirement,” says Brockman, who notes that since he wanted to join O’Reilly and continue in the auto parts industry he didn’t need to take advantage of the Air Force’s Transition Assistance Program (TAP) designed to help those leaving the military transition into civilian life.
Brockman says his initial contact with O’Reilly came when he bought auto parts for his car in the local store in his hometown. “As a customer I appreciated their ‘never say no’ approach,” he recalls.
The employees and the company made certain that a customer left with exactly the right auto part, no matter how much research it took to find it. “It doesn’t happen this way at other places,” he adds.
Brockman also points out that “at O’Reilly we have a strong promote-from-within philosophy and a tremendous career path for our team members.”
Witness his career trajectory at the company. As a full-time O’Reilly employee, Brockman became a night manager, then an associate store manager, and, after that, a service equipment sales coordinator at O’Reilly. He rose to take on a supervisory role, followed by a managerial one. Finally, he took on his current director role. Along the way he also earned a college degree in human resources management.
In his present post Brockman oversees the company’s driving eligibility and substance abuse program. “In addition, I oversee team member, fleet and facility safety, and safety/environmental regulatory compliance for all of O’Reilly’s locations.”
He sees his job as one in which he’s helping to make a difference by identifying focus opportunities to keep both O’Reilly’s teams and the public safe, and ensuring the teams have the parts they need to take care of their customers. But with the size of the company and the large number of stores, employees, delivery vehicles and moving parts, there are challenges.
“The most challenging part [of the job] is the vast number of regulatory compliance issues we face from local, state and federal agencies,” he remarks.
Brockman says his military career taught him the importance of teamwork and caring for people. It also taught him about compliance and attention to detail, commitment, organization and discipline, and especially time and process management. These are skills that were readily transferrable to the civilian workplace.
His advice to service members is: “Plan your transition months, if not years, prior to departing the military. Determine what it is you want to do and where. Work toward your goal while you’re still in the service. The transition will be a lot smoother.”
The similarity between the military and the culture at O’Reilly, Brockman says, is in the commitment seen both in the military and the company.
“The military is a profession. We take an oath. We are in the Air Force, not at a job.” It’s the same with O’Reilly people, who, he says, “are professional parts people. We’re a team.”
O’Reilly participates in job and career fairs as well as hiring events to fill store, distribution center and corporate openings.
Visit oreillyauto.com/careers to learn where O’Reilly openings are and see what career opportunities are available. Connect on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, YouTube and Instagram.
GPS: O’Reilly
O’Reilly Auto Parts is the dominant auto parts retailer in all of its market areas. From its roots as a single store in 1957, it’s expanded to its current size of 4,829 locations (and growing).
Williams’ Cybersecurity Savvy Earns Civilian Career at GM
A veteran of the U.S. Air Force and Air National Guard, Chanté Williams joined the U.S. Army Reserves in 2011 and earned his commission as a second lieutenant in 2014. Williams also earned a bachelor’s degree in management information systems with a minor in cybersecurity and digital forensics and another minor in military science.
He amassed quite a skill set, but it was an organization called Military MOJO that helped Williams transition into the civilian workplace and put his skills to work.
He explains: “They hold conferences for soldiers and officers who are transitioning out of the military and are going into different industries. Military MOJO helps you, even tailoring your resume and coaching you in interviewing skills.”
He’d researched various companies that interested him, and it was at one of these events that Williams connected with GM. “I was looking for a company that had a cybersecurity unit and had a start-up feeling.”
When he interviewed at GM, “the men and women that I met were top-notch,” he recalls.
In fact, he felt so strongly about the company and liked the people and the energy there so much that he “told [his] fiancée, ‘We’re moving to Detroit, [MI GM’s headquarters]’.”
Williams joined the car maker in 2015 as a vehicle cybersecurity penetration tester - a position he still holds today.
He works on the cybersecurity functionality of the electric control units (ECUs), which are the 30 to 40 different computers in each GM vehicle.
“These are essentially the brains of the vehicles, and it’s our job to test the various interfaces such as the WiFi and USB,” he details, adding that, ultimately, his job is to insure all of the ECUs in the vehicles are safe for customers.
Williams loves what he does. “I don’t wake up dreading to go to work. I get to learn every day from people who I work with who are so intelligent and highly skilled and are always there to teach and to offer up help.”
But the emerging technology in cybersecurity changes so fast that it’s a challenge to keep up with it. “Along with that,” he continues, “we’re introducing more and more features in our cars, which are becoming more and more complex.”
Within GM there are 12 employee resource groups, including the Veterans Affinity Group, whose purpose is to create positive and lasting relationships with communities, GM’s union partners, and veterans’ organizations.
Williams says sometimes transitioning veterans aren’t sure they have the skills that companies are seeking. He assures them, “You have skills that people want in the civilian world.”
Those include leadership skills, always doing the right thing and having a “can-do” attitude. He cautions fellow veterans to be aware that military jargon isn’t appropriate in the civilian workplace. He further suggests tailoring resumes to the specific job sought and doing research prior to sitting down for an interview.
GM attends military hiring events such as Military MOJO and the Service Academy Career Fair and Conference.
For more information about the company and a listing of open positions, visit careers.gm.com and careers.gm.com/working-with-us/veterans-gm.html. Connect on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, YouTube and Google+.
General Motors Company and its partners produce vehicles in 30 countries. GM, its subsidiaries and joint venture entities sell vehicles under the Chevrolet, Cadillac, Baoji, Buick, GMC, Holden, Jiefang, Opel, Vauxhall and Wuling brands.
Enterprise’s Love Applies Army Leadership Abilities to Manager Post
Cleveland Love Jr.’s career at Enterprise Rent-A-Car began with his experience as a customer.
Love, who is the area rental manager in Northwest Louisiana for Enterprise Holdings, the parent company of Enterprise Rent-a-Car, had his first experience with Enterprise in 2006, while he was in college.
“I rented a car from Enterprise Rent-A-Car when mine was in the shop. It was a great experience,” he recalls. The assistant manager there offered him a job with the company, but he declined the offer.
Two years later, a friend, who was also an Enterprise employee, convinced Love to apply for the company’s management training program. Love says he was drawn to Enterprise Holdings, which also operates National Car Rental and Alamo Rent A Car brands, because of its reputation with members of the military and its structure, and because its employees have the ability to be rewarded based on their performance.
He applied, was hired as a management trainee in 2008, and quickly rose through the ranks.
“My current role as area manager involves training, developing and driving performance for roughly 95 full- and part-time rental branch employees in Northwest Louisiana,” he explains.
“My team and I also actively participate in community events throughout that area.”
He goes on to say that the structure, perseverance, leadership and teamwork he learned in the U.S. Army, where he served as a squad leader of combat engineer and infantry squads during two tours overseas, have been key drivers of his success at Enterprise.
Love suggests veterans and those transitioning into the civilian workplace get some tips on resume writing and seek people in the transition offices who can help with the switch back into civilian life. The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) also provides a number of resources and is constantly upgrading its programs.
“I would also recommend transitioning veterans work on soft skills such as communication to readily identify with people,” Love counsels, underscoring that skills learned in the military, such as work ethic and leaderships, transfer well into the civilian workplace.
Love agrees that “it’s always helpful to have colleagues with similar backgrounds and interests to reach out to for career advice.”
But, because of the decentralized structure of Enterprise Holdings - more than 50 independent regional subsidiaries nationwide - there are no company-wide military affinity groups. Instead, each localized operation has the autonomy to develop and maintain diversity and veterans groups at the local level.
He recommends veterans interested in working at Enterprise visit the military page of the Enterprise Holdings careers website, go.enterpriseholdings.com/military, to research and apply for specific jobs in their area.
Recruiters from each of Enterprise’s local operations attend a variety of job fairs, including U.S. Chamber of Commerce’s Hiring Our Heroes events and the U.S. Department of Defense’s Hiring Heroes career fairs.
To also learn more about career opportunities at Enterprise, go to careers.enterprise.com. Connect on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, YouTube and Instagram.
GPS: Enterprise
Enterprise Holdings has a global network of 9,600-plus airport and neighborhood locations under the Enterprise Rent-A-Car, National Car Rental and Alamo Rent A Car brands. Enterprise Fleet Management provides full-service fleet management to companies and organizations with medium-sized commercial fleets. Other transportation services include Enterprise CarShare, Enterprise Rideshare, Enterprise Car Sales and Enterprise Truck Rental.
McAlpine Leverages Military Skills for Success at Toyota
Janene McAlpine uses skills learned in the military in a career at Plano, TX-headquartered Toyota Motor North America, Inc. (TMNA).
A veteran of six years in the U.S. Army and two in the Air National Guard, Janene McAlpine came to Toyota in August 2005 after seeing newspaper and local television news reports that Toyota was hiring and researching the requirements for those open positions.
“What drew me to Toyota was their structure and work ethic,” McAlpine remembers.
She applied, passed tests and assessments, was hired in August 2005, and received training.
She was placed in the stamping department at a Toyota plant, where the metal parts for Toyota trucks are stamped out. Then she moved to the control room where she “assisted with each department to make sure the plant worked smoothly.”
Today, McAlpine is a service/export specialist. “When a dealership needs parts, they put in orders with Toyota’s main office. That division puts in orders with me, and I make sure we ship the parts order to a warehouse on time,” McAlpine details.
She says the diversity of people in the military has given her the experience that enables her to work with Toyota’s diverse workforce. Its structured environment is similar to that of the military. She further points out that having a good work ethic, being dependable, responsible and honorable, having integrity and the ability to care for people and leadership - all learned in the military - are transferrable to the civilian workplace.
McAlpine explains Toyota’s efforts to recruit and hire veterans: “In partnership with the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, Toyota sponsors the Hiring Our Heroes campaign. Hiring Our Heroes is a nationwide initiative to help veterans, transitioning service members and military spouses find employment opportunities. Its website is uschamberfoundation.org/hiring-our-heroes. Toyota also participates in numerous veteran job fairs, including these three in Texas: Hiring Heroes Career Fair, Fort Hood Mega Career Fair and San Antonio Veterans Job Fair.”
Within the company itself, Toyota has affinity groups, one of which is the Toyota Veteran’s Association (TVA), which provides opportunities for both veterans and non-veteran employees to engage as a group within their community.
One of the group’s activities that stands out for McAlpine is this: “We adopted a U.S. Navy ship during its deployment and sent more than 500 ‘goodie bags’ to its sailors.”
TMNA posts its job opportunities at toyota.com/usa/careers. Connect on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, YouTube, Instagram, Pinterest and Google+.
GPS: Toyota
Toyota Motor North America, Inc. (TMNA) fuses Toyota’s marketing, sales, engineering and manufacturing arms in North America. It’s wholly owned by Toyota Motor Corporation. The company’s been in the U.S. and North America for 60 years, fully committed to advancing sustainable, next-generation mobility via its Toyota and Lexus brands.
Hilerio Parlays Procurement Experience into Post-Military Role at Bridgestone
It was Bridgestone’s iconic brands that attracted Matt Hilerio to the world’s largest tire and rubber company, which is globally headquartered in Tokyo, Japan.
After completing his initial enlistment in the U.S. Army, Hilerio earned a bachelor’s degree in logistics and operational management. Now a veteran, he still serves as a Spanish linguist in a Special Forces unit in Louisville, KY.
Adjusting to civilian life was not an easy transition, he shares. ”I struggled a little and had to acclimate during my first six months before starting college. I had some really supportive friends and family that helped me during this time while I transitioned back into civilian life.”
In 2015, wanting to live closer to his son, Hilerio relocated to Nashville, TN, where Bridgestone Americas’ headquarters is also located, and where he joined the global company.
Through its Bridgestone Americas’ family of companies, Bridgestone develops, manufactures and markets a wide range of Bridgestone, Firestone and associated brand tires to consumers and manufacturers of original automotive equipment. Bridgestone also operates the world’s largest chain of automotive tire and service centers.
Hilerio was attracted to Bridgestone because it’s “a world-class company with iconic brands and a heritage that spans more than 115 years.” Bridgestone is also committed to hiring former servicemen and -women and is a member of the Veteran Jobs Mission coalition, veteranjobsmission.com, which is an organization that brings together companies committed to hiring U.S. military veterans and military spouses.
Hilerio is currently a commodity manager for indirect procurement at Bridgestone. “The military instills qualities like leadership, dedication and hard work while also testing your ability to adapt to constantly changing situations. All of these are skills I continue to use today. I also have been working in procurement since I graduated from college, and have quite a bit of experience in my current field,” he explains.
“My primary responsibilities include negotiating and managing contracts for professional services throughout various functional areas within Bridgestone. I support functional leaders and business units to make sure they’re receiving an adequate level of service to support their businesses.”
He recommends that veterans seek and engage other veterans who have been successful in transitioning to the civilian workplace.
“Making the transition from military life can be a difficult experience,” he says. “It helps to talk to others to get their perspectives on what worked well for them.”
In addition, they might be able to suggest professional organizations for veterans that can provide good networking opportunities and get transitioning veterans connected in the community.
Some of the military skills that Hilerio feels are transferrable to the civilian workplace and serve employers such as Bridgestone well are leadership, project and time management, and adaptability. He reiterates that Bridgestone is committed to hiring talented and skilled servicemen and -women, as well as providing career opportunities for their family members.
Find open positions with Bridgestone at bebridgestone.com, bridgestoneamericas.jobs and bridgestoneamericas.com/en/careers. Connect on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, YouTube, Instagram and Google+.
GPS: Bridgestone
Bridgestone Corporation makes tires for use in a wide variety of applications, and manufactures a broad range of diversified products, which include industrial rubber and chemical products and sporting goods. Its products are sold in 150-plus nations and territories around the world.
Finding Your Military Mojo
Military MOJO: Military Officers Job Opportunities
What It Does: Holds corporate-sponsored career fairs specifically geared for former and transitioning military members.
Sponsors: Global employers seeking to hire veterans.
Clients: Degreed military professionals, transitioning military technicians.
Each Event Has: Workshops, networking opportunities, Women Veterans Roundtable.
More info: militarymojo.org
Source: Military MOJO
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