EY hosted a special Facebook Live Veterans Day celebration at Tribeca Grill in New York City on Friday featuring a panel discussion moderated by DiversityInc CEO Luke Visconti, a U.S. Navy veteran.
The panel of veterans included Koma Gandy Fischbein, executive director, Morgan Stanley (U.S. Navy), Kevin Jacobsen, executive director and cybersecurity professional, EY (U.S. Air Force), Christine Lantinen, president/owner, Maud Borup Inc. and selected as one of the EY Entrepreneurial Winning Women (U.S. Army) and Stephen Maire, global head of investor relations and communications, Moody’s Corporation (U.S. Army).
Beyond military service, veterans build a better working world every day — as entrepreneurs, corporate leaders and champions of diversity and inclusiveness.
The panelists shared their stories on how they’ve made an impact within the business community as innovators, team leaders and problem solvers.
Maire said his career trajectory has been very non traditional, with varied experiences, but his ability to be flexible in important positions was enhanced by his military experience.
He said the “military has direct transferability because every [three or so] years, you’re moving into a completely new job in many respects, and you have to figure out how to be successful.”
Maire continued, “Much of that depends on getting the engagement, the buy-in of the team members you have around you … those skills that I gained in the military continue to apply today.”
He added, “I’ve definitely had sponsors along the way. I think everyone needs sponsors in order to really progress in a meaningful way in their career.”
Lantinen said her military experience influenced her perspective on team building. The Army veteran owns a manufacturing company and said she began looking at “line leaders as squad leaders” and began to realize it’s “important to empower them to make decisions. Building those teams is key to getting the job done.”
The panelists also discussed what the military taught them about diversity and inclusion.
“I was speaking about diversity at an event in St. Louis,” Visconti began, “and a man came out of the crowd and talked about trust. He had a Vietnam veteran lapel pin on. And he said to me, ‘Do you know why you trust Black people?’
“I looked at him and said, ‘I never really thought about it.’ And he said, ‘Who fixed your helicopters?’ And my mind immediately flashed to the senior chief who was responsible for night maintenance.”
Visconti said at the time he was one of two functional check pilots and relied on the insight of the senior chief, who was Black, regarding the helicopters he would fly for the first time since it had major maintenance.
“I never for a second doubted his work,” he said. “He was such a total professional. That taught me to trust. I looked at him and I trusted him implicitly.”
Visconti said that experience in the military allowed him to “function in a bigger world trusting people that had shared values.”
Jacobsen said that based on his experience, if a person were to “deploy only once to a conflict area, you’d get what inclusiveness means, and you’d get what the importance of diversity is.”
He continued, “People come from all backgrounds. As a former combat commander, what I look for is where do I get different context? Where do I get different understanding? Where do I get different perspectives? On, not the tactics of what we’re going to do, but the overall objective. Are we really meeting the strategy, employing the types of people we need to get to the right objective?”
Fischbein added, “It really has to come down to knowing your people.”
She said it’s important to create “an environment where your people feel like everyone is a valued contributor and everyone’s opinion is one that should be heard.”
During lunch, EY, in partnership with Thirteen WNET New York, screened clips from the PBS documentary series, “The Vietnam War,” produced and directed by Ken Burns and Lynn Novick, and “American Medevac,” produced and directed by WNET, and former CBS correspondent Morton Dean. Neil Shapiro, president and CEO of WNET, also interviewed Dean about his experience covering the war.
Watch the panel discussion: