Shawn Wiggins, Consultant – Chicago
Combat Medic, Army, 2006-2012
Q. How has your experience in the Army benefited you in your civilian professional life?
The army helped me improve on my completion rate. I used to start things and not finish them. Military training, the esprit des corps, and being a member of a team taught me to see things through to the end. You don’t get to pick your team in the military, and this is usually true in your professional life as well. I met lots of different kinds of people in the Army, and as long as we are on the same mission, it doesn’t matter where you come from. We complete the task together.
Q. What attracted you to a career in Consulting?
Consulting requires adaptability to different environments. In the military, there is no one scenario that will be the same. Most initial plans don’t work, so adaptation is key; consulting is like that too. We can go in with a plan, but “xyz” can change with the client, the scope of work, or the stakeholder. Data can change too. What we saw in pre-assessment may not be what happens once we have boots on the ground. This adaptive style of working piqued my interest.
Q. What military skill compliments your consulting work the most?
Strategy. A lot of people imagine the military to be nothing but brute force, but it is all about strategy. An Officer I knew once said, “He who has the most information wins.”
Q. What advice would you give for veterans transitioning to the corporate world?
The military is an engine and what your superior says goes. There is a strong chain of command and you must follow orders. In school and corporate you have a lot of different personalities and they are not bound to the Uniform Code of Military Justice. I used to rule with an iron first when I had my first leadership role and I had to adapt and make changes.
Also, find your passion. Take what motivated you in the military and use that passion as you find your place in corporate America.
Q. How can companies create an inclusive environment for veterans?
Reach out to veterans within your organization. We are unique and operate differently. I was on a project and a vet at AArete reached out to me. He let me know that he understands where I come from and that he is there for me to talk to. Having someone in leadership take the initiative to put time on my calendar and connect really made me feel embraced at AArete.