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Washington State University
Dividend - Fall 2021 Graduate Education

MBA Veterans Explore Military Characteristics and Workforce of the Future

Story by Matt Beer • Photo by WSU Photo Services
Keynote speaker Michael McDermott says veterans possess traits upon which companies can develop positive culture and long-term success. Photo courtesy of the Bush Institute

The Carson College’s mission is rooted in generating insight through the power of community, and the Carson MBA Veterans program embraced that charge this year by hosting its second annual Military All Call event. Over 70 military-affiliated students, alumni, industry experts, and community partners gathered virtually to explore the value of veterans in the workforce of the future.

Michael McDermott, CEO of Arcadia Group, delivered a brief keynote on accelerating trends in talent management. His insights stem from 30 years of senior executive experience and over a decade of providing strategic development services to a myriad of private and public partners including the White House and the Bush Institute. He emphasized that as machine-human integration increases, specific human characteristics will trump common skills or experience. Veterans in particular possess the resilience, growth mindsets, and commitment to lifelong learning that can impact a company’s long-term success, he said. “These are the traits I want in my organization,” said McDermott, “because that’s the person who’s going to be able to navigate this dynamic environment—someone you can build a culture around.”

Industry Panel Offers Insights on Emerging Work Trends

Participants also learned about the challenges and opportunities of pivoting from military service to civilian careers. According to the Department of Veteran Affairs, some 200,000 military members are discharged from service each year. Boeing talent strategist Kristin Saboe led an industry panel discussing emerging work trends for these veterans such as technology integration, increased teaming, and project-based work. Panelists included Tom Downs, diversity and military talent manager for Booz Allen Hamilton, an information technology consulting company, and Alan Echtenkamp, founder of Slingshot Leadership, a consulting company that builds leaders and teams.

In addition to building networks and expanding their professional toolbox, Echtenkamp encouraged veterans to do a deep self-assessment to avoid undervaluing their worth. “This was very insightful and really reinforced my value to future employers,” said James Charapich (’20 EMBA), a current naval officer.

Leading Service Organizations Offer Powerful Resources for Veterans

Naval officer James Charapich (EMBA ‘20) found the evening very insightful and “it reinforced my value to future employers.”
Photo courtesy of James Charapich

Daniel Rau, CEO of Veterati, one of the nation’s biggest mentoring services for veterans and spouses, highlighted recent efforts and encouraged WSU to continue its work with student veterans. Ann Meree Craig, CEO of the Commit Foundation, described her organization’s high touch, high impact work to help top performing service members find personal and professional purpose after military service. Kandi Tillman, founder of 50strong, affirmed her recent partnership with the Carson College to offer weekly connections between military-affiliated students and veteran- ready employers. “The Carson College of Business is giving us such a wondering example of university-driven workforce thought leadership for the military community,” said Tillman. “Thank you for your amazing advocacy!”

WSU MBA Helps Veterans Build a Better Future

The Carson College’s 100 percent online MBA programs are well-suited for many veterans and active-duty members who want to build upon the skills and character traits they’ve developed through their military service. The Carson MBA Veterans program is an important part of that academic journey, helping military-affiliated students understand their value and enhancing their professional development toward a better future.

To learn more about the work of Carson MBA Veterans, contact Matt Beer, military and veteran affairs manager.