Comcast: How Military Minds Better Our Business
The value veterans and members of the National Guard and Reserve bring to corporate America discussed in "On Diversity" Comcast NBCUniversal's D&I newsletter.
"Veterans and members of the National Guard and Reserve bring highly transferrable skills and expertise to corporate America, and these employees have added significant value to our business." — Comcast NBCUniversal (No. 29 on the DiversityInc Top 50 Companies list)
The research1 is clear: Military service breeds highly qualified, strong leaders for corporate America. There's no better example of this than founder, Ralph Roberts, who served a four-year tour of duty in the U.S. Navy. Like Ralph, Comcast NBCUniversal's military and veteran employees embody the leadership, teamwork, and integrity that companies value. The company has also seen firsthand how their hard skills can directly impact business. So, Comcast NBCUniversal explored how the military experience of employees has contributed to their success at the company.
Ralph Alcala, Director, Learning & Development, Heartland Region, Comcast Cable
"I had a great eight years in the Navy as a Telecommunications Specialist. My last four years prepared me for a career in training and development, when I attended a facilitator training program to train Navy personnel on mandatory HR topics.
"Today, I am the Director of Learning and Development in Comcast's Heartland region. I work with a great team of leaders and trainers who are passionate about developing fellow employees to provide a great customer experience. The world of training is all about communicating messages with clarity, precision, and simplicity. My Navy training gave me an appreciation for the impact training can have on one's job, and emphasized the critical role a leader plays in helping a team make tasks and processes better."
Melissa Brown, Fulfillment Quota Coordinator, Field Operations, Comcast Cable
"I served in the U.S. Coast Guard [as] part of Search and Rescue and Law Enforcement teams. During my four-year tour of duty, I learned several key skills that influence my job today: the importance of great work ethic, punctuality, and communication.
"I still live by the Coast Guard's Motto: Semper Paratus (Always Ready) as a member of the Quota Team in Comcast's Western New England region. I ensure that there are enough techs available for each appointment by managing our techs' schedules. I also facilitate our team's weekend conference call for our dispatchers, tech supervisors, managers, and our director to ensure our techs can meet our customers' expectations."
Robert Burns, Recruiter, West Division, Comcast Cable
"My career in the Army started in the Reserves and Louisiana National Guard as a Carpentry and Masonry Specialist. My final role was as a recruiter, where I learned how to build lasting relationships, and enhance my communications skills. I also became a counselor and mentor to soldiers as they advanced their careers, and assisted civilians' transition to soldiers.
"Now I'm a Retail Leadership Recruiter in Comcast's West Division. I have the pleasure of working with a tiger team to facilitate more hiring of veterans and their spouses at Comcast. The communication skills I learned in the Army help me identify the ideal person a hiring manager needs to fit their team dynamics and desired skillset. I still try to embody the seven Army Values as a recruiter for Comcast – Loyalty, Duty, Respect, Selfless Service, Honor, Integrity, and Personal Courage."
Michael Mergenthaler, Production Manager, Entertainment Events, Universal Orlando
"I was a sergeant in the United States Marine Corps during Desert Shield/Desert Storm, and served six years as a graphic illustrator. The military sent me to art school, where I also studied audio visual and photography. I created artwork for trainings, publications, maps, and audio/visual materials.
"Today, I manage all steps of the creative development process for Universal Orlando Resort events. The ability to lead and adapt to change that I learned in the Marines has definitely contributed to my current role. I've also leveraged my military skills in ways you wouldn't expect – from rappelling and on-stage combat, to developing a manual drill for our Chainsaw Drill Team for Halloween Horror Nights."
Vince Tsang, Campaign Specialist, Digital Ad Sales Operations, NBC News Digital Group
"I currently serve in the U.S. Air Force Reserve as a 2T2, Air Transportation Specialist, a highly critical and heavily manned occupation in my field. My job is to transport the 'beans and bullets' on military aircrafts from our base to domestic and foreign bases.
"I also work in ad sales at NBCUniversal as a Digital Campaign Specialist. I manage advertising sales campaigns, setting up creative ads to run across our news sites. The core values of NBCUniversal aren't very different from the military. The military instilled in me the ability to think fast and do what is expected of me. And the sense of camaraderie at NBCUniversal has made it an easy transition. I take advantage of any opportunity I have to grow in stride and I am always ready for the next big challenge."
Christina Wiskowski, Events and Outreach Manager, Internet Essentials, Comcast Corporation
"I've been in the Air Force Reserve for 15 years. Currently, I am a Personnel Officer in the 514th Force Support Squadron, where I am the Flight Commander of the Military Personnel Section. I oversee the airmen that perform much of what we would think of as HR functions.
"I joined Comcast's Internet Essentials team in July 2016, where I work with our corporate and regional teams to coordinate large-scale signature events. While my roles in the Air Force have been quite different from my role at Comcast, my military life provided me with the critical skillset to be successful in the civilian world: teamwork, work ethic, prioritization, and keeping the bigger picture in mind so we can achieve our goals."
In the beginning of 2015, Comcast NBCUniversal made a public commitment to 10,000 military hires by 2017. Since then, we have hired over 6,000 National Guard and Reserve members, veterans, and military spouses.
1 Corporate Executive Board. (2015). "The Business Case for Hiring Veterans."
Read more stories regarding diversity in the workplace in "On Diversity" Comcast NBCUniversal's D&I newsletter.
Coleman, talks with DiversityInc about his journey transitioning from life in the U.S. Navy to working for Kaiser Permanente as an Assistant Hospital Administrator.
Anthony B. Coleman, DHA, is the Assistant Hospital Administrator (Operations Support) for Kaiser Permanente, Fontana and Ontario Medical Centers.
He was born at Kaiser Permanente Los Angeles Medical Center. At 17, he enlisted in the U.S. Navy serving aboard the USS Pioneer (MCM 9) and USS Ardent (MCM 12). After completing a full sea tour he was transferred to shore duty, and earned a Bachelor's degree in Workforce, Education and Development, as well as a Master of Health Administration. He later earned a commissioned as a Naval Officer serving in various roles overseas and afloat, including Chief Financial Officer at U.S. Naval Hospital Beaufort SC, Human Resources Director at U.S. Naval Hospital Yokosuka, Japan and Medical Operations Officer onboard the USS Harry S Truman (CVN 75) nuclear powered aircraft carrier.
Anthony retired in 2016 with 20 years of honorable service and holds a Doctor of Health Administration Degree and currently serves as the Assistant Administrator (Operations Support) for Kaiser Permanente Fontana and Ontario Medical Centers.
DI: What was the initial transition like going from the armed services to a civilian career?
My initial thoughts on transition brought unnecessary anxiety. However, when I learned that my preceptor was a retired Air Force Colonel, it helped put me at ease about the transition. On my first day at Kaiser Permanente, the staff and physicians welcomed me and ensured that I had the support I needed to make a successful transition.
DI: What are some skills or habits you developed while serving in the military that have helped you in your current role?
Two things stick out in my mind as important.
The first is transitioning mindset from duty to desire. I joined the navy at 17, and during the first 3-5 years of my military career I didn't realize I was part of something bigger than myself so I competed tasks out of obligation (duty). After completing my first full sea tour, I realized how my efforts contributed to the overall mission of the U.S. Navy and the duties I carried out started to come from a desire to do so. This realization helped shape my leadership style and how I groomed young sailors early on in their enlistments. I wanted them to realize their very important part in the overall U.S. Navy mission and motivate them to bring their "A" game every day.
This has helped in my current role overseeing nine non-clinical departments (Housekeeping, Food and Nutrition, Engineering, Construction, Parking, Safety, Property Management, Telecommunications, Security and Supply Chain Management) where the majority of the employees I oversee are entry-level and can feel disconnected to health care because they are not physicians or nurses. However, I stress to them as often as possible that whether their job is to nourish the patient, clean and disinfect a patient room, make sure life-saving equipment is in working order, or any other of the hundreds of non-clinical functions they perform day in and day out, they too are vital to a patient's health and healing.
The second is attention to detail. Most times, my staff are the first and/or last interaction our members have with Kaiser Permanente. It is crucial for them to pay attention to every detail about the patient they encounter because each and every detail about the patient, large or small can help us do a better job in serving them. Sometimes, it may be as simple as a smile or word of encouragement that could make all the difference in the patient experience.
DI: What career advice can you offer to veterans or current military folks who are looking to pivot, and what types of jobs should they be looking for?
Stay current in world health affairs, as well as the political climate in the US. Now more than ever, politics are shaping our approach to health care and vice versa. Veterans and current military members should make sure they have an idea of where civilian health care is, as well as where it's going in the future, so they can demonstrate their value to potential health care employers.
Devote time to discovering their passion and allow it to lead them to a profession. So often, when military members plan to transition to civilian life, they tend to focus on their ability to continue providing for their families beyond military service. This can cause us to accept positions for the sake of securing post military employment, or accept positions that are not aligned with our core beliefs, or passion.
DI: Did you always have an idea of the type of career you wanted to pursue after the military?
Yes. As a matter of fact, I began planning my exit from the military in 2005 when I discovered my passion for eliminating health disparities however, because I was a single father of a 5 year old girl, my mom convinced me to complete a full career first.
In 2004, the Navy sent me to graduate school to learn how to be a health administrator. During the summer of 2005, I interned at Wallace Thomson Hospital in rural Union County, South Carolina. While there I met a kitchen worker who impressed me with her skill in preparing meals for all of the sick patients at the hospital, specific to their individual needs. Her name was Pee Wee and even though she never finished high school, and worked a second job to make ends meet she somehow found a way to show compassion for each patient while contributing to the healing environment.
After the rotation was complete, I went back to finish graduate school and learned that Pee Wee died of a stroke. She was 52. Her death really affected me and a began to look at how a person in America could die so young of a preventable health issue. That's when I learned about health disparities and discovered my passion for eliminating them. I understand that I may not be able to complete this task in my lifetime however, I am completely comfortable with making it my life's work at Kaiser Permanente.
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