Battlefield to boardroom: Corporate execs mentor troops
March 8, 2011
WASHINGTON (Army News Service, March 3, 2011) -- Twenty-nine companies are now participating in the American Corporate Partners program to mentor veterans and help them transition to become the next wave of corporate leaders.
The American Corporate Partners is open to servicemembers and veterans who have served on active duty since 2001, as well as the spouses of troops severely wounded or killed in action. The nationwide mentoring program connects them to the most fitting corporation related to their desired field of endeavor.
American Corporate Partners has matched 1,000 mentors with proteges across the nation since it began on Labor Day 2008.
The 12-month program is centered on the protege and mentor relationship, and includes various networking opportunities and professional building techniques. It involves one-on-one communication and e-mentoring. The in-person program is available to veterans who live within 100 miles of one of the American Corporate Partners cities of participation, and the e-mentoring is available to veterans who live outside these cities.
Each mentor sets goals for their protege as they learn and develop throughout the year. Mentors also say they receive benefits from the professional interaction as well.
Theodore Roosevelt IV, managing director at Barclays Capital Corporation and a former U.S. Navy SEAL, participates in the program as a mentor. The great-grandson of President Theodore Roosevelt has been in the investment business for more than four decades and expresses much enthusiasm for the new program as he mentors a U.S. Marine protege.
Roosevelt tells veterans the skills required to become an investment banker are child's play compared to the kind of discipline, team work, hard work, and ability to work under pressure, that they learned in the military.
"It doesn't take very much to look at a veteran's resume and see whether he or she did well in the military -- and if people excel in the military, the good performers are identified pretty quickly. We, in almost in every case, will want to hire them because they display character and personal skills that are far more important in determining whether they will be successful as investment bankers than some other skill sets," said Roosevelt.
The program does not provide job placement but does give the proteges access to their mentor's networks and helps them create their own.
A two-hour, monthly meeting is required of all mentor/protege relationships to keep the lines of communication open.
Some companies also host events for servicemembers and their spouses to create a comfortable environment and provide opportunity for questions to be posed in a relaxed environment.
Gilbert W. Sanborn is a banker and a community leader appointed to serve as civilian aide to the secretary of the Army. Sanborn also participates in the American Corporate Partners program and mentors Darryl Robinson, a retired command sergeant major from the Army.
"In my opinion the (American Corporate Partners) program is invaluable because of the matching of the right mentor with the right protege," Robinson said. "I am interested in banking and not only did I get matched with a leader in banking, but Gil is also the civilian aide to the secretary of the Army."
"This was important because we didn't have to spend time explaining my rank and positions I have held. Instead we spent time talking on more senior levels on subjects concerning banking and the military. It is also important to have that person (mentor) who understands that you have the skills necessary to make the jump into corporate, but what you are lacking is the "how" in expressing it. After our initial meeting, I was really excited," said Robinson.
Sanborn reflected on the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attack as a day that influenced him to support Soldiers even before his participation with the American Corporate Partners program and mentoring servicemembers.
"I want to instill the confidence in them to make that transition into the civilian world," said Sanborn. "I have found that Soldiers are sometimes intimidated by the civilian world because it's an area in which they don't have much experience. They feel they may not have the capacity or background, yet they in fact often have superior skills, work ethic and discipline."
"Part of the challenge is to develop in them the confidence that they do have those skills and to help them convey the skills to an interviewer, giving evidence of where their skills have been applied," Sanborn explained.
"As a civilian who has never served in the military, I have a deep personal commitment to give back to people like my protege," said Sanborn. "I feel that all civilians have an obligation to help our military in any capacity that we can because they serve on our behalf and they put themselves in harm's way."
"We as a nation, and part of the community, each have a personal obligation to do what we can to help servicemembers reintegrate into civilian life, and to impart whatever knowledge, resources and experience we have to help them."