Hiring Our Heroes (HOH) is a program that connects the military community to job opportunities at corporations across America. Veterans bring unique skills to the workforce, such as project management, teamwork, and a culture of collaboration, to name a few. Tim Schnelle, Federal Program Manager at SolarWinds, a fellow from HOH, met with Government Technology Insider to further explore the benefits of hiring former service members.
Government Technology Insider (GTI): Can you tell us about your role while serving? How have you adapted to your current position today?
Tim Schnelle (TS): Before joining SolarWinds, I was a United States Marine Corps helicopter pilot. I served for over 25 years, traveled the world, and got to experience everything the military had to offer from world-class training to multiple combat deployments, providing humanitarian assistance at home and abroad, and working in the White House. During my time in service, I was fortunate to have the opportunity to be a member of HMX-1, the Presidential Helicopter Squadron, on two separate occasions, and served as a pilot for four presidents. Additionally, as I mentioned above, I had the unique privilege to complete my Joint Service tour working at the White House for four years in various positions, including as Director of the President’s Emergency Operations Center.
I have adapted well to my new role at SolarWinds. Still, like anyone joining a new company, there is always a learning curve when it comes to understanding the organizational structure, methodologies, and daily routines. That adjustment always takes time, but I think my military experience has only helped me adapt to change and adjust to new environments. For example, in the military, we worked across multiple time zones around the globe and seamlessly coordinated activities. This has translated into project management skills that support structured planning and goals, which I can relate back to some of the complex IT deployments at SolarWinds.
One thing I have noticed when transitioning to the corporate landscape is that teams are very successful in their designated areas, but often lack visibility when it comes to synchronizing across multiple lines of effort. My experience has provided me with the necessary perspective to take a step back, look at the big picture, and ask the questions necessary to create a coordinated holistic view of the organization in time and space. I have always found that complex problems are best tackled in small parts by teams that leverage the synergistic results of their individual strengths and who focus on being brilliant at the basics.
GTI: Can you share what Hiring Our Heroes is about and the benefits of programs like this one?
TS: Hiring Our Heroes is a phenomenal program that provides a structured pathway for transitioning service members to bring the skills they developed in the military to the public and private sector workforce. It includes training, insights, and points of contact to build relationships and develop professional networks outside of the military. Most importantly, it provides a cohort of other transitioning service members who are on the same journey and can share their experiences, advice, and information. This camaraderie and the shared journey help you navigate life after military service.
GTI: Have you had challenges with bridging the civilian-military divide?
TS: I think that any division or divide between those who have served in the military, and those who have not, is caused by an individual’s inability to engage in meaningful dialogue and have empathy toward another’s point of view. Today, the U.S. military is an all-volunteer force comprising a broad cross-section of Americans, with its members having incredibly diverse backgrounds, beliefs, and personal stories. Over the course of my 25 years serving, I am proud to say that I have worked with some of the most amazing people with incredible and inspiring stories. I carry those experiences with me, and it fosters my ability to relate to, and work with anyone and everyone. My co-workers at SolarWinds have been great to work with, and I honestly do not believe there is any divide. We have developed professional and personal relationships that create open dialogue and respect for diverse experiences, and we acknowledge what those experiences bring to the team.
GTI: What are the next steps that military personnel can take when transitioning to the workforce?
TS: I think a good piece of advice I would give all military personnel is that whether it’s in the next four, 10, or 25 years, one day, your military service will end, and you need to think about what you want to do after that. Take advantage of all the training and education that the military offers, never say no to an opportunity, and always have a plan for your future.
Make the time to talk to your friends and mentors who transitioned ahead of you. Build relationships with your neighbors and friends outside the military and ask them about their careers and what training and education they need. Always ask for help. I have found that everyone is willing to assist you if you just ask.
GTI: Do you have any final thoughts to share with our audience?
TS: Hire a Veteran. Regardless of which service they were in or what rank they attained, they will bring valuable skills and attributes to any team. Veterans understand that teamwork can overcome all obstacles and that there are no impossible tasks. They transfer skills across contexts, adapting to emergent requirements and tackling problems through diverse training and skillsets. They are comfortable with uncertainty and exhibit high levels of resiliency and adaptability due to their many cross-cultural experiences. Finally, they will show a solid commitment to the organization they join, focus on brilliance in the basics, and display loyalty and dedication to their team and tasks.
The featured image is Tim Schnelle flying Marine One over the National Mall.