At Poly, our mission is to create amazing new ways to hear, to see, to work, and to work together. This is made possible by our diverse group of employees that each come with unique skills and training from their background. Today, we are paying a special tribute to the U.S. Veterans we have the privilege of working alongside here at Poly. We invited a number of these Vets to share how their time in the military shaped their capacity to lead, collaborate, and guide others.
Many of our Veterans shared that they were interested in working at Poly after their service because of the training they were exposed to in the military. Some even recognized our video conferencing systems that are used in the military and wanted to take part in creating and influencing the technical standards we’re familiar with today.
For some of our Veterans, many aspects of their role in the military translated seamlessly to their role at Poly.
Ricky Russell, former Embassy Guard in the Marine Corps and Flight Equipment Technician (now a UI/Human Factors Engineer at Poly):
“I used to custom fit flight safety equipment for pilots and crew members of F18s fighter jets and CH46 helicopters. I would alleviate discomfort points for parachute harnesses, helmets with AR visors attached, survival vests, basically everything that keeps you alive in an aircraft. This experience translated seamlessly to headset design and ergonomics here at Poly.”
Ryan McCall, former Machinist Mate (now a Sr. Technical Writer at Poly):
“As a machinist mate working with nuclear propulsion, you have to strictly adhere to written procedures. This went as far as having to read out instructions, point to the component, and verbally verify you’re manipulating the correct one and then taking action. As a writer, I have to put myself in the shoes of our users to create documentation they can follow as easily as the instructions I worked within the Navy.”
Dave McCallum, former Armor Branch Captain, U.S. Army (now Sr. Director, Video Collaboration, Program Management at Poly):
“Be it in the Army or Poly, my teams and I have had to react quickly to changing priorities and to juggle the limited time, resources, and budget available to accomplish the task at hand. It hasn’t always been easy, but we have always worked well as a team to meet the challenges placed in front of us.”
For others, although the roles don’t directly correlate, their service did shape them into the kind of employee they are today.
Marty Sexton, former USAF Law Enforcement Officer (now Sr. Solutions Marketing Manager at Poly), credits the military for his level of work ethic, maturity, responsibility, and commitment, noting those skills are directly transferrable to how he manages projects in his role.
In addition to transferable skills, the structure found within larger companies is something all of our Veterans found relevant and valuable.
Scott Gaulding, former 21-Bravo Combat Engineer (now Sr. SQA Engineer at Poly) mentions that the military structures itself in a very similar way to corporate structures. This has allowed him to understand Agile methodology and put it to good use.
“Understanding and navigating a structured hierarchy, group collaboration, working towards a common goal, responsibility, being able to be counted on, and being agile,” explained Scott.
Ricky also mentioned that the military helped him to “…understand the organizational structure, your role within the structure, and how your contribution is part of something greater.” Ryan added to Ricky’s statement in saying,
“The corporate world and the military are based on a very similar hierarchical structure with decentralized command. Here at Poly, we have VPs, directors, managers, team leads, etc. that each work as part of the chain of command. At each level, leaders have a certain amount of latitude to accomplish the overall Poly mission. The military taught me how to always be comfortable working in a structured environment.”
For Dave, corporate structure was particularly valuable due to the emphasis on having leaders and decision-makers.
“The Army taught me the tremendous value of all team members providing their thoughts and feedback to the leader, and the leader actively seeking out feedback from the team. This applies to corporate structure as well. Poly has incredible people with vast knowledge and expertise, and it is impressive to watch that unleashed on a clearly communicated common goal.”
STRONG LEADERSHIP AND WORK ETHIC
Some of the most fundamental skills the military instills in Veterans is the ability to lead, collaborate, and guide others while offering a deeper understanding of what it means to carry responsibility and not simply the achievement of a title. When it comes to leadership and personal accountability Dave explains,
“The important thing is to correct your mistake as soon as possible, take responsibility for the mistake, and learn from it… The impact of a diverse team working together towards a shared goal is more powerful than individual effort. My intent as an individual contributor or manager has been to help the organization clearly communicate the goals and direction to my teams and help those teams perform efficiently in achieving the mission objectives.”
The military imparts a strong work ethic and respect for process and your superiors. It challenges you in ways in which civilian life cannot and you’re often placed in situations where you need to analyze, adapt, and overcome. Whether it be through hardship or training, the responsibility, integrity, and regard for others gained in the military are invaluable. Scott says, “I hold those values very close and I aim to conduct myself with them guiding me in my personal and professional life.”
Ricky mentions the U.S. Marine Corps is a ‘leadership culture’, explaining,
“They never stop teaching you leadership principles, traits, styles, etc. It taught me to lead from the front and set an example of what is expected from someone in my position. My personal leadership style is flexible, understanding, helpful – but I also hold people accountable. I find collaboration and communication are key within your team so you can deliver the best results to the greater organization.”
Dave still implements the 11 leadership principles he learned in the U.S. Army in his current role when leading his teams today at Poly.
“Some of the principles are: ‘set the example,’ ‘keep your team informed,’ ‘make sound and timely decisions,’ ‘know yourself and seek self-improvement,’ and ‘know your team and look out for their wellbeing.’ The lessons I learned in the Army have served me well during my time at Poly. Working and leading teams at Poly has been a very similar experience. We have a diversity of talent and experience, and there is something new to learn from everyone. It is very powerful to see what teams can do when there is a unified strategy or mission statement and the teams are given the resources to implement and meet the business goals.”
For Ryan, he explained that one must learn “…to collaborate with people on day one of your military career. A large part of this is learning to work with people from so many different backgrounds. It’s difficult to command respect and direct others when you don’t hold yourself to the same high or higher standard. Leadership requires mutual respect.”
HONORING POLY’S VETERAN COMMUNITY
There’s camaraderie in the military that is rarely seen in other professions, which is why we are proud to have such a great group of U.S. Veterans here to foster that sense of community. Even though everyone has had different experiences there is a shared understanding of service and sacrifice to one’s country.
To all of our Veterans – thank you for all that you have done for our country and all the great work you do here at Poly. Everything you bring to Poly – your work ethic, leadership, ability to collaborate and to guide others is tremendously valued. We hope all of our Poly Veterans and beyond enjoy their well-deserved day.
A special thank you to those who contributed to this story: Dave McCallum, Ricky Russell, Marty Sexton, Ryan McCall, and Scott Gaulding.