Question and Answer Session with Marine Corps Veteran and HR Professional Ian Anthony
Provide an overview of how you got to your current role. What was the pathway? Starting with your role in the military to your current role?
I retired from the Marine Corps as a CWO5 – Personnel Officer in October 2019. Prior to my retirement I was fortunate to participate in a Whole Vet Seminar where I was able to meet James Simpson of Pike Engineering. He was gracious enough to forward my resume to the leadership who then interviewed me for an Operations Supervisor Position. I had no previous utilities experience, and relied upon only my leadership experience after 30 years in the Marine Corps.
Share how your military service prepared you for your current career.
I was a Personnel Officer, and spent 30 years in all levels of personnel administration, culminating as multiple roles as an Installation Personnel Administration Center Director. Responsible for timely and accurate personnel reporting of military pay and personnel issues of up to 30,000 Marines.
Did you face any barriers getting into HR? How did you overcome them? Were there organizations that helped?
I was fluent in military pay and personnel related issues, through my experience, and my degree in HR. However, I quickly learned in my new roles as Plant HR Manager for a major manufacturing company that my military “HR” experience does not translate to that in the private sector. I have spent countless hours playing catch-up in my new role, as I learn the nuances that are specific to the individual plant, its corporate policies and private sector HR.
Neither opportunity with Pike Engineering, nor PactivEvergreen would have been possible without the Whole Vet Network.
Do you have advice for fellow HR practitioners regarding veteran hiring and ways they can make the transition less daunting for veterans.
Plan accordingly, rehearse interview techniques that are void of military idioms. I’m amazed how the culture that I was immersed in for 30 years has little to no relevance in the private sector. While there are plenty of veterans within organizations, most of them reside on the production floor, and not in corporate offices. Corporate America is naïve to military operations, trials and turbulences, and have no idea what value our perseverance brings.
Finally, do you have any advice for fellow veterans or transitioning service members seeking a role in HR?
Become certified in SHRM, PHR, etc. Not just for the “signature block” of your email, but to prepare you for life without the comfort of your military experience. Note, unlike in the military where Desk Top Procedures and Standard Operating Procedures are abundant, I’ve learned the hard way that they are not embraced or developed elsewhere.
Anything else you feel is important for veterans or non-veterans to know?
Embrace your military service, but do not let it define you as it will lead to disappointment. Highlight your military contributions as it helps refine your “soft skills” which can’t be taught, and must be developed over time. For non-veteran organizations, I say take a chance that open position with the veteran, as most veterans do not know failure, and will exhaust every measure in order to succeed.
Veterans, take a leap of faith outside your comfort zone, do not be tethered to your occupational specialty. Technical skills can be learned/taught – soft skills are what will set you apart.