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Vets in Tech (3)

Many facets of Kansas City’s tech industry are propelled by veterans. With a multitude of skills honed through military experience, veterans can be uniquely qualified for various jobs in tech, like cybersecurity, network administration and project management.

To assist veterans interested in breaking into the tech workforce and organizations looking to better support veterans pursuing technology, we picked the brains of KCTC member representatives from Kansas City National Security Campus (KCNSC), managed by Honeywell FM&T, Garmin and Burns & McDonnell. You can view the full Q&A featuring Shawn Geib, Chief Information Security Officer at KSNSC, Jennifer Pozzuolo, Human Resources Manager at Garmin, and Mike Goodnow, Senior Recruiter for Burns & McDonnell’s tech talent and an officer on the VETS ERG with Burns & McDonnell, below.

From your perspective, what advice do you have for veterans working to get involved in the tech industry?

"Veterans and our Veteran Employees at the Kansas City National Security Campus (KCNSC) understand what is needed to defend our great nation and have already proven their commitment towards this continuous mission. We are proud of your service and encourage you to continue efforts that ensure our warfighters have the cutting-edge technologies required to keep our nation and allies free and safe. KCNSC is leading and supporting numerous efforts to ensure that the systems and programs we support are safe, reliable and ready. This comes with the requirement of ensuring the technologies within the systems and those needed to develop, produce, deliver and sustain those systems are current and maintained. I encourage veterans to get involved and inquire about how you can put your valuable skillsets as a veteran to support this effort."

-Shawn Geib | Chief Information Security Officer | Kansas City National Security Campus, managed by Honeywell FM&T

"Be sure to highlight technical skills that are easily transferrable and explain how the corresponding skills are very similar to translate in the workplace. Ensure that your interviewer understands your experience and able to translate the military acronyms into the civilian market."

-Jennifer Pozzuolo | Human Resources Manager | Garmin

What are the unique skills that veterans tend to bring to technology careers?

"Veterans have already demonstrated a unique qualifier for employment here at KCNSC. In transitioning from their civilian lives to military service they have proven their ability to build knowledge of, understand, and apply the effective use of proprietary technology only found in military settings. The unique mission set of KCNSC means any prospective employee will need to be able to adapt to and apply skills and technology found nowhere in the country but the KCNSC. Flexibility, attention to detail and the ability to interact with diverse people and cultures acquired from serving, are merely some of the remarkable attributes our veterans bring.  These are complemented by a unique understanding of what is required to defend our nation and allies against all threats and provide global nuclear deterrence which is embedded in the military culture that resonates with our veterans. Our military brings the most advanced technologies to bare in defense of our nation, a lot of those technologies are supported right here at KCNSC – we want employees that understand the need for continuous technology advancement, so that we can continue providing that for our mission."

-Shawn Geib | Chief Information Security Officer | Kansas City National Security Campus, managed by Honeywell FM&T

"I grew up in a military family and I was in law enforcement myself. I am a lifelong witness to the dedication, drive and selflessness our veterans possess. There is nothing else like it. What veterans bring to the civilian workforce is remarkable. They are effective communicators, have a team mentality at all times and an unmatched grit. We’ve seen firsthand how diversity leads to better, more creative solutions for our clients and our veterans are certainly a prime example. As an employee-owned firm, we embrace a team mentality in all we do and this is a natural transition for our veterans."

-Mike Goodnow | Senior Recruiter | 1898 & Co. / Burns & McDonnell 

How can employers effectively assist veterans pursuing careers in technology?

"The KCNSC has dedicated recruiting teams to assist in hiring veterans through our job fair outreach to different military bases and government agencies throughout the country. These efforts are powered specifically by veteran employees of KCNSC. I feel many tech companies can benefit from this practice. Employees can also assist veterans pursuing careers in technology by sharing open job positions and information about our great organization. Additionally, they can assist by sharing and amplifying social media posts from KCNSC and by identifying different venues to connect independently and collectively through our human resources department.  We have some of the best men and women who have chosen to serve our country in uniform, we’d like them to continue that call to serve within our organization.  We must be intentional in recruiting our veterans as they finish their commitments in service to get them to apply and accept a career in technology with KCNSC."

-Shawn Geib | Chief Information Security Officer | Kansas City National Security Campus, managed by Honeywell FM&T

"Employers can easily help veterans apply their skills as understanding comparable skills and asking clarifying questions related to military experience.

Employers should explain their specific job requirements and focus of different positions – i.e. if requiring a certain programming language, encourage the Veteran to explain the programming language use in a project if not working with this is current role;  or additional studies to learn this programming skills, how it was applied or hands on experience; and always highlighting your results if just projects and not hands on work experience.

Employers can assist Veterans to offer examples on ways to apply similar skills or be able to explain similar technology skills – i.e. a Maintenance Automation Technician position might involve ensuring a production line sufficiently remains up and running with support and preventative maintenance.  While the candidate might not have supported the manufacturing line, the candidate might have supported a robotics function which is very similar to supporting the robotics on the line."

-Jennifer Pozzuolo | Human Resources Manager | Garmin

What programs or resources does your organization currently provide for Veterans?

"The Veterans Employee Network Group, or Veteran ENG, is a great opportunity for KCNSC employees to connect with other veterans and employees.  This group regularly meets and reaches out to support veterans, both within our Kansas City and Albuquerque communities and others. Within the company we also participate in the “Hiring Our Heroes” program, among others, helping veterans transition from their military careers to a budding career within the KCNSC. Because we want to take care of them and are grateful for their service to our nation and their service here at KCNSC, there are many resources available to our Veterans. I encourage Veterans to inquire about what opportunities exist for them both from a career standpoint and a resource standpoint as a KCNSC veteran employee."

-Shawn Geib | Chief Information Security Officer | Kansas City National Security Campus, managed by Honeywell FM&T

"The last few years have obviously been a very competitive hiring market. Programs such as Hiring our Heroes, which connects the military community with civilian companies, are a huge advantage for us to find incredible talent. We feel like we are good fit for the transition into civilian life. At Burns & McDonnell, we are 100% percent owners of the firm. Our powerful and unique culture — built on the backbone of employee ownership —  drives success, responsibility and a team mentality.

At Burns & McDonnell, Employee Resource Groups (ERGs) are voluntary employee-led and developed inclusive communities that are open to all employees. They help build client engagement, community engagement, and a positive employee experience. They are open for all employees to join.

The mission of our Veterans Empowered to Serve (VETS) ERG is to create a network for our veterans and allies to focus on pushing the employee, the company and the community forward.  I helped start the ERG a few years ago when we saw a gap. We want to provide a community for our veterans and allies to help provide camaraderie while also serving veterans in our communities across the nation. It is also a great tool for recruiting veterans and retaining the talent we already have here."

-Mike Goodnow | Senior Recruiter | 1898 & Co. / Burns & McDonnell 

"Garmin has a very strong GPS Vets Employee Resource Group, offers generous benefits to deployed service members, actively recruits from many military programs, bases and was just recently inducted into the Military Spouse Employment Program (MSEP)."

-Jennifer Pozzuolo | Human Resources Manager | Garmin

KSHB 41 Covers the Paths of Veterans in the KC Tech Industry

In October alone, employers across the KC metro posted over 4,900 open tech roles.

View Charlie Keegan of KSHB 41 News' story to learn how veterans are uniquely qualified to help fill these positions. You'll also hear about some of the initiatives in place to assist veterans both entering and already within the tech workforce, such as Apprenti KC , the Garmin Prior Service Veterans program and Burns & McDonnell's 1898 & Co.'s efforts within the nationwide Hiring Our Heroes program.

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