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Veteran Tenacity in Tech
Vets and their spouses show how tenacity and in-demand tech skills go hand in hand.
Veterans are valued for both their service to their country and for the unique skills they’ve mastered. Their spouses are viewed in much the same way, with their professionalism valued as much as that of veterans who served. Vets, especially, transition into the civilian workplace with a well-tuned work ethic, with leadership and problem-solving skills, and the ability to work as part of a team.
Vets and their spouses who couple all of that with their tenacity and a honed set of tech skills can find themselves in a thriving career in everything from IT and computers systems to software development, data science, and healthcare IT and informatics, and from artificial intelligence (AI), cybersecurity, and blockchain to progressive web apps, coding, and programming.
This is evidenced by the greater emphasis put on cloud computing, big data and cybersecurity. It’s causing the demand to grow in the tech fields at a rapid rate, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics’ (BLS) Occupational Outlook Handbook.
The three veterans and the veteran spouse profiled here tell how they’re capitalizing on this demand. They also show how the computer industry values their service, tenacity, and professionalism, and actively recruits, retains, and promotes them.
Experience with Autodesk’s Software Tools Leads Menzies to a Successful Career
Peggy Menzies came to San Rafael, CA-based Autodesk where, today, she’s development manager, simulation, after first having had experience working with its software tools for a small aircraft instrument manufacturing company for which she worked after transitioning out of the U.S. Navy in 1992.
Autodesk designs software to help customers in industries such as architecture, construction, engineering, and manufacturing build products like cars, buildings, and smartphones.
Menzies is a member of one of the first classes of women to graduate from the U.S. Naval Academy. However, she also indicates that, technically, the military was also her college. She earned her first degree - in naval architecture - while at the Naval Academy, followed by a Master of Engineering with a focus on mechanical engineering from the Naval Postgraduate School and then a Ph.D. in aerospace engineering after transitioning out of the Navy.
Menzies was initially stationed in Hawaii as one of the division officers for the Eastern Pacific Naval Communication Station. She later attended Surface Warfare Officer School en route to being stationed as an engineering officer on an oiler based out of Norfolk, VA.
To begin her civilian career, and with her doctorate under her belt, Menzies worked with a local unemployment office, which had a section dedicated to veterans seeking employment.
“The veterans’ section had a vast network,” remembers Menzies, who was hired by the aircraft instrument manufacturing company. “My initial role was to use what are now Autodesk software tools to design aircraft instruments for increased accuracy and redundancy while reducing power consumption. I was awarded two patents for my designs.”
She moved on to Blue Ridge Numerics, Inc., a software company where she worked on computational fluid design (CFD) software, which is used by mechanical and building systems engineers to help them virtually test thermal and fluid flow. When the company became part of Autodesk in 2011, Menzies became an Autodesk employee and continued to work on the CF design program, now called Autodesk CFD.
Menzies says she found her passion working with Autodesk software and through connections with the product support team. “One moment I was telling the product support team how happy I was with their tools, the next, I was interviewing with the very people who developed the software.”
She joined Autodesk two weeks later. “My initial role was supporting customers and providing pre-sales application engineering.”
From that initial position, where Menzies interacted with the developers and helped customers get the most out of Autodesk’s product, her career evolved.
“I now lead a team of developers, and the problems we solve are bigger and more complex. My team is now global and far more diverse. Customers’ priorities are much more worldly than when I first started. It keeps things challenging and fun,” she shares.
She adds that it was her military training - leadership, flexibility and problem-solving - that’s helped prepare her for the tasks in her current position. “Today managing my team that develops technology to help people solve engineering problems requires the same skills, the ability to lead a team into the unknown with the confidence that we can tackle tough challenges and find the best solution,” she elaborates.
Autodesk’s veteran-focused employee resource group, the Autodesk Veteran’s Network (AVN), while open to any Autodesk employee with an interest in things military, helps its veteran/employees still feel valued for having served their country. Members of AVN meet up with each other at all large company functions, such as annual sales conferences or technical team summits.
Group-chat channels further enable them to connect with each other across offices, share news, present ideas and, in general, build camaraderie.
Menzies advises veterans about to enter the civilian workforce: “First, give yourself time to transition. Your military skills are a fabulous asset; military behaviors are not always well-received.”
She adds that learning “soft skills” such as interpersonal communication, emotional intelligence or presentation skills, might serve them well.
Autodesk regularly participates in job fairs and, for any potential candidate who self-identifies as a veteran, AVN will make an extra effort to see if there’s a fit between the veteran’s credentials and available job opportunities at Autodesk.
More information about the company and its open positions is available at autodesk.com and autodesk.com/careers. Connect on Instagram, Facebook, LinkedIn, YouTube, Pinterest, Google+ and Twitter.
Hejazi Begins a Promising Career at Oracle
Caroline Hejazi is a military spouse. Her husband spent 10 years on active duty before transitioning out to serve in the Texas National Guard’s Special Forces Unit, which continues today.
Hejazi notes: “I’ve always worked, even when my husband was on active duty. After he transitioned to the Reserves, I worked for myself for a few years (I owned a private tutoring business), and then joined Oracle in November 2017.”
Today she’s a Latin American Division (LAD) license deal specialist for Oracle, a cloud-based technology company headquartered in Redwood Shores, CA that sells a complete suite of integrated applications for sales, service, marketing, human resources, finance, supply chain, and manufacturing, plus highly automated and secure generation 2 infrastructure featuring Oracle autonomous database. It’s her first position with the company.
She applied online twice to work at Oracle before coming aboard at the company. She’d been keeping an eye on job opportunities at Oracle when the second time she applied for the job she wanted proved fruitful.
“The system picked up on my resume, and I received a call from HR in headquarters for a brief phone interview. The next day I met with three managers for an in-person interview, and a week later I received the offer,” explains Hejazi has a bachelor’s degree in civil engineering and an MBA with concentrations in consulting and sustainable enterprise.
As an LAD license deal specialist, she - along with her team - drafts non-standard license contracts for clients in Latin America, mainly in Brazil, her native country. The deals are drafted in Portuguese, Spanish and English when necessary.
“My team is small, so we all help when and where needed,” she details. “I’m also responsible for our team’s weekly newsletter, a way to keep everybody in the loop regarding updates pertaining to our job. Deal management is always evolving, and, at the same time, laws and regulations of the countries with which we work are changing regularly. The newsletter is a very helpful internal resource.”
Oracle actively seeks qualified veterans and their spouses, and provides both career opportunities and community events for them. Its employee resource group, Military and Veteran Employee Network (MAVEN), focuses on supporting those veterans, their spouses and their families. MAVEN holds networking events in many different locations, and Oracle’s employees who are veterans contribute in attracting talent from the military into Oracle, whether via referrals or personal testimonies to friends and community members.
Hejazi is also the marketing co-chair for MAVEN’s San Antonio, TX chapter. As examples of recent community events, MAVEN held a Veteran’s Day panel - open to all Oracle employees - where guest speakers shared some of their stories, and service members showcased photos, medals and objects used during missions.
Earlier, members of all Oracle’s ERGs held a picnic where employees and their families gathered enough donations to send 80 care packages to members of the military in Afghanistan and Djibouti.
Hejazi adds: “In addition, 150 letters were sent to U.S. troops deployed abroad, and 100 paracord bracelets were made by volunteers and sent to the non-profit organization, Operation Gratitude, which partnered with Oracle in this initiative.”
Look for additional information and career opportunities at oracle.com, oracle.com/corporate/careers and oracle.com/corporate/careers/culture/veterans.html. Connect on Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, LinkedIn and Instagram.
Vick Rises to VP at Acer after His Military Service
James Vick, who is now vice president, customer service at Acer America Corporation, had a 10-year career in manufacturing, logistics and service at Gateway, Inc., a computer hardware company.
When Gateway was acquired by San Jose, CA-based Acer America in 2007, Vick came along to be part of Acer’s service team. He has a bachelor’s degree in English, which he earned on an U.S. Army ROTC scholarship before beginning his military service.
“I served as a Regular Army Intelligence Officer for six years between 1987 and 1993, mostly at Fort Bragg, NC as part of an airborne unit. I graduated from Airborne and Ranger schools, and served during Desert Shield and Desert Storm in 1991, where I was awarded the Bronze Star for service. I was also part of the expeditionary force to Panama during 1989 against General Noriega and supported Haitian refugees who fled home after the overthrow of President Aristide in 1992,” he explains.
At Fort Huachuca, AZ he was assisted in transitioning out of the military and into the civilian workforce with help in resume-writing and job searches. He underscores how the military prepares the veteran for the civilian workplace.
“It prepares you to take on any situation and accomplish the mission. It builds teamwork, trains you to think on your feet, maintain a positive can-do attitude even under stressful conditions and develops your leadership skills. In addition, it helps you learn to effectively deal with change as you need to in the business world.”
Vick shares that, at Acer America, which manufactures and markets notebook computers for consumers and businesses, he’s focused on listening to its customers and responding in a caring way to their concerns and to build the Acer brand. He’s challenged daily to communicate effectively via phone, email, chat, and websites with customers in 37 countries who speak many languages, including English, Spanish, French, and Portuguese.
He notes that many transitioning veterans might need to “start over” at first, in a different industry or an entry-level position in the business world. He suggests, “Be humble,” and assures them that their experience, abilities, and attitude will allow them to quickly grow in terms of responsibility and position.
Vick adds: “Acer employs veterans from the U.S. Army, Navy, Air Force and Marines. It certainly considers military experience as part of a candidate’s whole background when looking for people to join the company. If a veteran wants to apply to Acer, then they should send in a resume, ideally referring to a current opening, which they can find on Acer’s website.”
Information about Acer and its open positions can be found on acer.com, acer.com/ac/en/US/content/careers and indeedjobs.com/acer-america/jobs. Connect on YouTube, Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn and Instagram.
Davis’ Interest in Cybersecurity Leads Him to McAfee
Gary Davis, chief consumer security evangelist at McAfee, earned a Bachelor of Science in technical management while serving in the U.S. Navy, where he was part of the Navy’s anti-submarine warfare efforts.
“I got my degree while in the military by taking classes at night and on weekends,” he remembers. He also completed his coursework for a Master of Public Administration.
He was drawn to McAfee because of its mission. “I can think of nothing more honorable than keeping the world safe from cyberthreats,” he explains about why he wanted to work at the Santa Clara, CA-based global computer security software company.
So, 10 years ago, Davis reached out to someone he’d worked with previously who knew the McAfee hiring manager for the job for which Davis wanted to apply. The former colleague shared Davis’ resume with the hiring manager, and he was hired. He’s been with the company ever since.
As chief consumer security evangelist, he partners with internal teams to align McAfee’s product development with the needs of consumers, driving meaningful advances in security. He also provides security education and awareness to businesses and consumers by distilling complex security and privacy topics into actionable advice.
Davis is a sought-after speaker at high-profile conferences and events, speaking on topics and trends in digital security, including privacy, the evolving threat landscape, securing the Internet of Things (IoT) and the challenges associated with cryptocurrency. He’s also spoken on digital security topics at major educational institutions including Harvard University and Columbia University.
“Every day I use skills and techniques I learned in the military, from how to effectively lead people to navigating through complex situations,” he notes. “I believe my military experience directly attributed to my professional growth and was instrumental in enabling me to realize my potential.”
He points out that McAfee’s Military Veterans community is an active, U.S.-based community, but is available to veterans globally. It’s comprised of active reservists, military veterans, military family members and allies from all service branches.
“Plans to expand this valuable community globally are on-going and anticipated to complete later this year,” he adds.
McAfee invites veterans to apply to any open position. “We’re currently revamping plans to participate in more attraction activities for veterans, including attending events and partnering with veteran support agencies globally,” Davis says.
In addition, McAfee’s global “returnship” programs for veterans provide job training and preparation for entering the civilian workplace.
Go to mcafee.com and careers.mcafee.com for more information about McAfee and its available jobs. Connect on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Glassdoor, Instagram and YouTube.
Employment of computer and information technology (IT) occupations will grow 13% through 2026, faster than the average for all occupations. That translates into about 557,100 new jobs. The median annual wage for these occupations was $86,320 in May 2018, which was higher than the median annual wage for all occupations ($38,640).
Occupation 2018 Median Pay
Computer & Information Research Scientists $118,370
Computer Network Architects $109,020
Computer Programmers $84,280
Computer Systems Analysts $88,740
Database Administrators $90,070
Information Security Analysts $98,350
Network & Computer Systems Administrators $82,050
Software Developers $105,590
Web Developers $69,430
Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics’ (BLS) Occupational Outlook Handbook
Data Byte: Software developer is the number-one, in-demand job with a median salary of $105,590. And software job growth through 2026 will expand by 24%, much faster than average.
Sources: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) and U.S. News & World Report
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