Adam Schulz, Consulting Director – Chicago
Captain, US Army, 1998-2008
Q. Where did you start your military career?
I was always fascinated by the military so I pursued my Bachelor of Science in Information Systems Engineering at West Point. I fell in love with both West Point and the Army while I was there. After school I was stationed in Germany and given the responsibility to manage a Tank Platoon.
Q. How was your transition from a military to a civilian career?
My experience pursuing a civilian business career was made even more difficult due to timing. I found myself looking for a job just as the 2008 recession hit. For Officers, there are a number of resources to gain exposure to the civilian world. I worked with a staffing agency that specializes in placing former military Officers in roles with large Fortune 500 companies. However, it wasn’t until the CEO of a large healthcare organization saw a Forbes article I was featured in which focused on people struggling in the recession economy, that I finally received a promising job offer. I spent four years there before transitioning into consulting.
Q. What lessons did you learn from your experience in the Army?
I completed two combat tours and spent 27 months total in Baghdad. The most important thing I learned during that experience is how to remain calm while under stress. As a leader, I am able to analyze a problem and provide a solution. Whether it is a team of consultants or a group of soldiers, you need to remain cool. They can feel your energy and will follow suit so you must set the correct tone.
Another important lesson is adaptability. Every day in Iraq was different and every day you took on a different role. This ability to adapt to different situations is extremely applicable to consulting and our need to adapt to unique client needs.
I also try to always lead by example. There is a mantra in the military – I can’t ask my soldiers to do anything that I am not willing to do myself. I had better be ready to stay up all night with my team if something needs to be done. I would never pass that expectation on to them alone.
Finally: mission completion. On the field we complete our mission and bring all of our soldiers home safely. In consulting this means delivering excellence to our clients, keeping up team morale, and ensuring everyone is part of the success of a project.
Q. What advice do you have for soldiers transitioning to civilian careers?
Approach things with a humble attitude. Veterans can struggle with having a different background and skill set than their peers in the civilian world. I had experience working multiple jobs in the military, being responsible for 22 other soldiers and advising 750 Iraqi police. When I entered the civilian work force, I had to start at the bottom and prove myself.
Q. What valuable attributes do veterans bring to a team?
Military veterans can essentially do anything you ask of them. You just have to give them a little support. Every day in the military, you are given a job that you are not qualified for and you have to figure it out. You are required to leverage your resources and make it work. A little extra help during the onboarding and training process will give you a high-performing consultant. By providing valuable resources and fostering a supportive team environment at the onset, veteran employees will serve as a tremendous value add in the long term.
Q. What part of AArete’s culture do you value most?
I value the people at AArete. During the interview process I really felt the passion for the culture. I love that I have the ability to get to know everyone across teams and departments. AArete has grown impressively, but it has maintained the feeling of a small and intimate workforce. You spend a lot of time on the road and in the office, so it is important to be surrounded by great people.