2012 Veterans Day CEO's message
As the country commemorates Veterans’ Day this week and reflects on the contributions US Armed Forces Servicemen & women have made, let’s also consider the potential these individuals offer the world of business. Adaptation, technical skill, small team leadership and project management have all been cited as a few of the core innate competencies military veterans possess. As anyone in business will tell you, these are also some of the highly coveted leadership qualities needed to succeed in business. More companies and industries are reaching out to work with veteran organizations and developing greater intentional focus around their veteran recruitment strategies. As the CEO of the country’s leading professional association for Latino business leaders, we also chose to focus on developing an initiative that would offer veterans access to opportunities for professional development and a network of business leaders who could serve as informal mentors and points of contact for a veteran interested in learning more about a particular job function, company and business product or service.
Currently, we have many ALPFA members who self-identify as veterans and participate with chapters across the country. Officers and enlisted men and women from all branches of the US Armed Forces have become members. One of the most unique and striking things you learn when interacting with veterans is how diverse the population is—not only in terms of ethnic, racial and gender demographics but also with regards to socioeconomic background, formal education, reason for joining the military and world view. So, the types of direct and indirect services we provide must be equally varied.
While many of the veterans who served in the enlisted ranks are looking to transition into a career and usually find completing their college degree to be the first step in their professional development, veteran officers may join a professional association like ALPFA as a means to give back to their community. Orestes Benitez, an ALPFA New York chapter member, a former Ground Intelligence officer for the US Marine Corps and a credentialed independent management consultant specializing in financial services, joined ALPFA to offer younger professionals, veterans and civilians, the benefit of his experience. Already established in his post-military service professional career, Orestes attended a local NY chapter event geared to help veterans demystify the challenges and opportunities available in Corporate America. He believes this type of event together with encouragement to pursue and complete an undergraduate degree program as well as additional training in career basics including resume writing, mock interview sessions and managing career trajectories are essential skills for the enlisted veteran population. From Orestes’ experience leading Marines in a variety of situations over the course of his military career, he sees his role and the value of organizations like ALPFA in remolding the natural skills servicemen and women gain in the military to fit the business world and strategically focus their existing drive and ambition positioning them for greater success. In addition to creating an opportunity for him to serve as a volunteer ALPFA also served as a comfortable space to expand his existing network and build on his professional and personal branding. ‘For someone like myself’, Orestes commented, ‘I found ALPFA provided more of a reaffirmation that I was heading in the right direction and the networking allowed me to refine my interpersonal communication skills and delivery which was especially useful as I was in a transitional period of my own at the time.’
Veterans and business leaders share many of the same core values and skill sets. ALPFA continues its commitment to create opportunities for veterans to make a seamless transition in Corporate America and celebrates the success of veterans like Orestes who also help bring other veterans and young professionals to the next level of leadership.
Manny Espinoza, CEO, ALPFA