Logo Courtesy of KPMG

KPMG — Honoring All Who Served: A Veteran’s Perspective on Service

Originally published on info.kpmg.us by Robert Barea.

I joined the United States Army when I was 19 years old, serving on active duty for the first 10 years, then spending 14 more years as an active duty guardsman in the New Jersey Army National Guard. Throughout those 24 1/2 years, I proudly served this country—and it was a truly wonderful and rewarding experience.

It’s also rewarding to me to come from a family of Veterans: My father, cousin, and my oldest son have served, and my middle son leaves for Navy boot camp in January 2020. I could not be prouder of my sons, or more honored to have them follow in my footsteps.

Serving in the military builds a strong foundation for leadership. From the very first day of basic training, soldiers are groomed to lead, and my first official leadership position was that of corporal. My work was similar to that of an HR professional in the civilian world, and I was responsible for recruiting, compensation, HR policies and processes, and total rewards.

Toward the end of my career, I was a principal advisor to the commander, serving as a warrant officer. In that role, I was considered a technical expert, responsible for resource management, human capital and finance; and overseeing recruiting, employee engagement, and promotions.

My array of responsibilities included serving as a member of the State of New Jersey’s Diversity Council, with part of my focus being diversity and inclusion, and ensuring the organization’s population and ratio of recruits mirrored the state’s demographics. As a result of this important work, my passion for championing diversity deepened, ultimately leading me to the role I have today at KPMG. Being able to bring my passion and leadership abilities to the firm—and to serve our colleagues by helping to ensure we are all respected and valued—has been such a rewarding and fulfilling experience.

Darren Burton

Like many veterans, I was anxious when the time came for me to retire from the military. It took me 24 years to get to the point where I had built a strong reputation and brand in the military community. My military rank made it clear what I had accomplished. But corporate America is different; there’s no equivalent rank or other easily identifiable symbol that speaks to who, what, and how good you may be.

Redefining and reinventing yourself once you step out of uniform can be quite challenging. Fortunately for me, my transition was not as difficult as that of other veterans. It was almost seamless, and that’s compelled me to devote much of my professional and personal time to helping veterans find industries, companies, and positions in which they will be valued and given opportunities to grow.

If you are a veteran, or know a veteran who is transitioning back to civilian life, I hope you’ll share the following guidance with them. It helped me, and I’m confident it can help them, too.

Be fearless and bold.If you want to do something different than you’ve done before, you can’t go about it timidly.

Prepare, then prepare some more. Find a mentor, spend time researching industries and job opportunities, and connect with veterans/veteran-friendly people so you have as much information as possible to develop and execute a successful transition plan.

Know, and be able to effectively communicate, your value. Your value as a veteran only begins with your military service. Being able to communicate how your service provided you with a unique—and highly valuable skill set—will better position you for the roles you deserve.

Robert Barea is a director on KPMG’s National Inclusion & Diversity team in Montvale, New Jersey. 

Latest News

AIG’s Brandi Monique Shares her Mentorship Journey

AIG’s assistant vice president Brandi Monique shares the mentor relationships that led her to her success at AIG. Monique defines mentorship as an organic connection — rather than a formal relationship — between a mentor and mentee. Monique says from her early days at AIG, she sought potential mentorship relationships…

anitab.org, adp, women, grace hopper

ADP Recognized for “World’s Most Admired Companies” List for 14th Consecutive Year

Originally posted on ADP.com ADP Recognized on FORTUNE Magazine’s 2020 “World’s Most Admired Companies” List for 14th Consecutive Year ADP, a leading global technology company providing human capital management (HCM) solutions, has been named by FORTUNE® magazine as one of the “World’s Most Admired Companies” in 2020.  This marks the 14th…

Dow named 2020 Best Place to Work for LGBTQ+ Equality

Originally posted on Dow.com and LinkedIn Dow named 2020 Best Place to Work for LGBTQ+ Equality by Human Rights Campaign Foundation Recognition marks Dow’s 15th consecutive year receiving a perfect score on the Foundation’s Corporate Equality Index In recognition of its inclusive workplace, Dow has been named by the Human Rights…

Abbott Earns Workplace Diversity Honor

Originally posted on Abbott.com and LinkedIn Employee survey results rank Abbott among the 100 top U.S. employers for creating inclusive work cultures. Diversity is ingrained in who we are at Abbott. It’s how we innovate and how we collaborate. It’s how we think and how we are. It’s how we…