Annual Transitioning Military Officer and Special Ops Breakfast

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FWB Park Brown held its annual transitioning Military Officer and Special Ops Breakfast on Thursday, September 19th in downtown Houston. Despite Tropical Storm Imelda making things a little tense for the commute from this truly inspiring event, it could not have gone better.

Executives from across industries joined us for breakfast to network with top military leaders in the process of transitioning from their military career to industry. 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 Doug Foshee, founder and owner of Sallyport Investments, LLC, alongside Kevin Pope, a former Navy Seal Command Master Chief and current Vice President of Service Quality at Brigade Energy Services.

Kevin 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:

  • Deciding where he was going to set up his new “Home Base” (Houston)
  • Preparation and research of the key industries in that city
  • Identifying through his network many industry leaders
  • Asking each of them a series of well thought out questions, while seeking referrals
  • Organizing a series of interviews with key referrals which resulted in 8 job offers
  • Choosing the one position that best served his purpose

The focus of Kevin’s speech was centered around process and defining your enemy. As a warrior, there needs to be an enemy, in this case, it is the gate keeper that keeps you from getting the role you are truly ready to take. Kevin urged his fellow servicemen to not focus on the salary as much as their ability to be successful in the role. Him choosing the role that paid the least, was not intentional, but the role he chose allowed him to take up to one year to study the company and then determine how to fix the company’s leadership and safety  concerns. For him the role’s objectives and his ability to be the most successful was more important than the compensation he was offered.

Doug’s message was geared for the corporate leaders in the room. He spoke about his journey in Corporate America, where he has had tremendous success, and then how he started assisting our military veterans, as it has always been a passion for him. Doug shared the following Houston Veteran’s statistics:

  • Houston is home to the 2nd largest Veteran population in the country
    • Nearly 300,000 Veterans call Houston home
    • 55,000 Veterans residing in Houston are Post 9/11 Veterans
  • Houston is the Largest In-Migration location of Post 9/11 Veterans in the United States

Doug discussed his passion for this cause and his story as a co-founder of NEXTOP Vets, a non-profit organization that provides job placement assistance, mentorship, support and education for veterans.  He highlighted the benefits military leaders bring to the executive level and why he values their contributions to industry. He concluded his inspirational talk by asking a question to the executives in the room, which was, “What do you owe these veterans in the room, and what can you do?” Needless to say, the question did not fall on deaf ears.

During breakfast, the room was filled with conversation and appreciation for just how much these military leaders have done for us, as well as what they could continue to do for us from inside our own organizations.

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.

Kevin and Doug both did brilliant 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 offered a unique perspective to the attendees, and had a friendly banter back and forth, as Kevin was quick to remind Doug that even though Doug’s offer was one of the best, he still had turned him down during his transition from the Navy in 2014. That’s right, Doug offered Kevin a position to head up NEXTOP Vets as one of the eight offers Kevin received when he initially transitioned out. It was clear to everyone in attendance, both speakers truly admire and respect one another!

As always, growing a network and leveraging those contacts was a focus of the event. We are grateful to all who attended, as they will be sharing their contacts and their time to our military leaders, which will help see them through this next phase of their careers.

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 2020 event.

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