Military Veterans in Marketing, Sales and Business: Celebration and Support from BOLD Vets

By NBCU InSites Archives
Cover image for  article: Military Veterans in Marketing, Sales and Business: Celebration and Support from BOLD Vets

On Veterans Day, November 11, we honor our military veterans, living and dead, who served in the U.S. Armed Forces. Living veterans are a distinct but invisible minority in our society, accounting for only 5.7% of the current U.S. population (versus 13.4% of African Americans and 18.5% of Hispanic or Latinos). Their average age is 58 years old. (Editor's Note: MediaVillage is proud to connect the students and alumni of the D'Aniello Institute for Veterans and Military Families and the National Veterans Resource Center at Syracuse University to NBCUniversal and their BOLD Vets program for a virtual Career MeetUP on November 9th.)

Few Americans today have contact with the four million under-45 veterans (only 1.2% of the population) or understand their capabilities and needs. NBCUniversal's BOLD Vets is a free national networking service designed to help veterans and active-duty reservists who are sales professionals and business owners to rapidly and efficiently expand their referral networks.

Your author happens to be a veteran -- I served as a Naval Officer for five years long ago when the U.S. still had the draft. You had a choice after college to wait to be drafted, and serve two years in the Army, or volunteer to become an officer and serve quite a bit longer. When I left the Navy to get my MBA, 40% of my business school class had served in the military, and when I went into management consulting afterwards, the proportions were still high at work. Veterans were certainly not unique in professional services companies.

Today, the situation is very different.

Jonathan Fleming (pictured at top), currently in Advertising & Partnerships sales operations at NBCUniversal, is an eight-year Army veteran who began his military service in the National Guard while he obtained his college degree at the University of Wisconsin. Subsequently, he was commissioned and served in Afghanistan and at Fort Stewart, Georgia, training and leading teams to deploy and maintain M1A2 Abrams tanks and equipment. He directly led teams as small as 18 members while coordinating with 550-person battalions and higher echelons of command. He was responsible for equipment valued at $40 million.

He experienced the military as a great melting pot of the nation, with enlisted personnel and officers "made up of every race, gender, background and walk of life imaginable." He observed and participated in the training and molding of individuals so they could work together.

"Training is one of the great successes of our military," he says. "Our people came from different thought processes that guided them wherever they grew up, whether it be from rural Wisconsin, like me, or metro New York. Watching individuals develop into teams that could accomplish complex missions -- developing from the time they entered basic training until they were actually deployed somewhere else -- is truly beautiful. This is the foundation of a great culture."

Jonathan was surprised at some of the misconceptions he encountered when he took his first job as a sales executive at a pre-employment background-screening company. "My colleagues thought that everyone in the military was an infantryman, engaged in combat 24/7," he recalls. "Nothing could be further from the truth. Although I was personally in a combat specialty as an Armor (tanks) Officer, I worked alongside technicians, mechanics, logistical services, cooks and even cyber security specialists. Most military members never actually see combat."

He is grateful for the leadership training he received. "Leadership and teamwork are extremely important fundamentals that are practiced in the military on a daily basis. I led hundreds of men and women in combat environments. Today I take pride in sharing my leadership experience with my NBCUniversal colleagues -- it is based on open communication and trust. What I learned in the Army is equally important in a corporate setting. In a civilian job, you have to be able to trust your teammates and foster open communications so that others will share information with you that will help you do a better job."

Jonathan is proud of NBCUniversal's BOLD Vets initiative. "Our mission is to hunt for non-traditional talent that may get overlooked because they do not have 'hard skills' to put on a resume. Specifically, our upcoming BOLD Veterans event on November 11 will be an incredible event to educate potential candidates about who we are, what we do, and how they might become employees of NBCU if they so desire." (On November 9th, NBCU vets will meet with students and alumni of the Institute for Veterans and Military Families for a Career MeetUP hosted by MediaVillage and AdvancingDiversity.org.)

Veterans, in Jonathan's view, have all the skills and leadership capabilities to allow them to learn hard skills required for specific jobs, like those in Advertising and Partnerships. "My intention is to open people's eyes to what veterans can bring to corporate America -- and to demonstrate to veterans that they can leverage their skills and worth to civilian companies. Many veterans begin to feel defeated when applying and ignored for jobs, and they can easily give up. Companies need to do better -- and they can upgrade their talent pool by hiring non-traditional candidates like military veterans.

To register for the NBCU BOLD Vets event on November 11th click here.

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