We’re excited to introduce another valued Employer Partner of The Honor Foundation and an Alumni who is now part of their family.
These are companies and organizations who have hired men and women from our program and/or who have generously given us their time, resources and connections in an effort to help build a stronger network for our Fellows after service — a community post community.
Matt Herber, THF Alumnus, 8×8 Equity and Payroll Operations Lead
Jake Miller, THF Alumnus, 8×8 Sr. Manager, Internal Audit and Sox Compliance
Sam Wilson – CFO
Galen Takamura – Sr Project Manager, QTC Transformation
Natalie BonDurant – Investor Relations
Sydney Fox – Talent Acquisition
Mike Weiner – Director, Global Financial Services
Q1 What advice do you have for those who are experiencing transition?
Matt Herber (MH): Be patient. You are leaving a career where you are the SME and potentially entering an industry that you will not understand. Give yourself time to get adjusted and to begin a new learning process.
Jake Miller (JM):
- Relax. You’ve earned this transition. You are marketable and you will find your job, your career, your purpose. Allow yourself time and latitude to explore the quality of life you’ve been preparing for for all these years. It took you several years to learn, practice, and gain proficiency in your military career. You should expect a similar learning curve going through and past transition.
- Have frequent and candid conversations with your spouse about your goals, preferences, values, etc. Transition can feel very lonely so we have to take advantage of our fellows and mentors as well. The THF coaches are incredible and can be an excellent sounding board for you.
Mike Weiner (MW): The transition will be one of the most challenging things you’ve done to date. Leaving a tight-knit community, having to learn something new, the stress of a job hunt, financial uncertainty, and a lack of being understood can leave anyone apprehensive. Just as you would on any deployment or operation, keep moving forward to better your position. Reach out to anyone willing to talk, network, ask questions, and above all, set manageable expectations – you likely won’t land your dream job on the first go!
Galen Takamura (GT): We are fortunate to leverage incredible Veteran Support Organizations like THF, providing immediate access to support systems to expedite learning through mentorship, insights, and an expanded network. Do everything you can to get around others supportive of your goal to transition. Identify and seek out those who have what you want and inspire you to grow. Also, work towards bypassing the standard resume submission process by networking and building meaningful relationships to gain direct access to recruiters and hiring managers – this is how I was afforded an opportunity at 8×8. Finally, you will be highly successful and be excited about paying it forward, as so many have done ahead of us.
It’s normal to be unsure of your choice and yourself as you venture into the unknown. What you think you want today may not be what you want a year from now, and that’s ok. Remain open-minded and enjoy the experience of exploration. Most importantly, if you’re married, ensure you are in constant communication with your spouse, as the transition is a family effort.
Sam Wilson (SW): Treat it like a mission. It has an objective, intelligence, supplies, operations, etc.
Q2 What experience shaped who you are?
MH: Deployments allowed me to see different parts of the world and create a new perspective on what things I find important in life. It expanded my horizons and helped me grow as a person. My emotional intelligence definitely benefited from an increase in empathy.
JM: Developing my WHY, finding my PURPOSE, and listing my PREFERENCES. They were all very different than what I had in mind before THF. I came to realize that my purpose and preferences prior to THF were only aligned with my “status quo”. I had not considered anything other than contracting and working overseas because that was my comfort zone and what I’ve known for 22 years. After discovering my WHY and listing preferences I found that I wanted something very different. Focusing on happiness and quality of life after transition became my priority. It led me to pursue career options closer to home and even working from home became an option.
MW: I can’t say there is just one. Our individual experiences and perspectives make us who we are today, big and small. If I were to generalize, I would say the military was the biggest contributor to who I am today.
Sydney Fox (SF): As Mike said, I don’t think that there is one experience that I could pinpoint and say that made me who I am. But generally speaking, I think the military has heavily influenced my life and who I am today. Growing up as a military brat, I was raised to face hard things head-on and with a go-get ‘em attitude. I was surrounded by a diverse group of people and learned how to find common ground with anyone I talked to. Now as an adult, I am a military spouse. Between being thousands of miles away from family, training, and a deployment – I have learned how to be adaptable, strong, and have a positive outlook even when things are really just… shitty.
GT: Having my first kid affected how I viewed my priorities and changed my perspective on life. After missing too many milestone events of my daughter’s first three years, the desire to be present drove my decision to depart a profession I enjoyed and respected. However, I have no regrets, as I work in a fully remote capacity today and cherish every moment with my wife and kids.
SW: grew up in a military household and happily took an ROTC scholarship. The military made me successful, and in particular, being Ranger qualified. Small unit tactics are the most significant leadership lab in the world. It teaches mission accomplishment, no excuses, being a good teammate, being a leader, and so much more. Being a Ranger teaches the ability to suck it up, get it done, plan, communicate, and most of all, leading the way. Lastly, being in the military taught me to learn through experience. All the lessons I’ve had post-Army have been lesions because I was willing and able to do an AAR.
Natalie BonDurant (NB): LIFE! Finding a lesson or opportunity for growth in the toughest of situations.
Q3 What is your favorite interview question?
MH: Tell me about yourself….and not reciting your résumé but talking about where you come from and who you are as a person.
MW: Please tell me about the most challenging situation you’ve had to overcome, either professionally or personally. I also really like Galen’s and will steal that from now on.
SF: What are you really good at, but never want to do anymore?
GT: Tell me about a time you failed. I like this question because I have many failure stories to choose from. I can’t say I’ve never enjoyed failing, but I value the lessons learned and the character developed through adversity.
NB: +1 to Galen (great minds!) I love this question because it also allows for a follow up “so what did you do next?/ how did you fix it?” It allows the interviewee to elaborate on how they problem solve.
SW: What was your favorite job? I want to see if the job we are interviewing for fits.
Q4 What similarities did you find between your role at 8×8 and your previous experience in the SOF community?
MH: Max flex! As with any mission, your day to day tasks or projects can quickly change due to unforeseen consequences of actions that might not have been yours. You have to quickly adapt to the new situation, learn via drinking from the fire hose, and finish the job.
JM: Teamwork and camaraderie are valued at 8×8. Your ideas and experiences are welcomed. The team room may be virtual but team members take care of each other.
Q5 What makes the culture at your company special?
MH: 8×8 emphasizes the importance of work/life balance and promotes it. They have also demonstrated the desire for more SOF personnel at the company because they understand the potential.
JM: Leaders and managers value their people.
MW: We’ve built a small, tight-knit community of SOF veterans who support each other on a weekly, even daily basis. Instead of having to interact with hundreds of people, we’ve built a small network across the company of truly valuable employees who can get things done behind the scenes. It helps break down the bureaucracy and red tape while keeping a positive, small team-like atmosphere.
GT: From an organizational perspective, it is clear from the top down that people come first. From a team perspective, I am impressed with the intelligence and capability of teammates, with everyone willing to go beyond their scope to support the collective whole.
NB: I’ve seen several roles at 8×8 shaped around the expertise of the SOF Veteran community. With the help of organizations like THF and with the support of leaders like Sam, 8×8 has been able to translate the experiences and expertise of the SOF community to achieve various business goals.
Also, the community of SOF veterans already at 8×8 are some of the best people/coworkers I’ve worked with throughout my career, they’re continuing efforts to support one another, and the broader community is really awesome to watch and inspires others to get involved.
Q6 What question are you asked more than any other?
MH: From transitioning veterans, “What lessons did I learn?” Let’s have a virtual cup of coffee to answer this one. To chime in on the above, I agree with Sam. You shouldn’t grab a certification if it doesn’t interest you or you won’t use it. It’s extra work for you, so make sure you are learning something you want to learn.
JM: “What are you going to do next?” This question can be annoying and frustrating when you don’t have the answer! But it’s also a great opportunity to work on your pitch, discuss your WHY, and speak out loud your ideas about your future. You get to hear how they sound out loud and get feedback from anyone who will listen.
MW: Should I get my PMP or MBA? The most important thing you can put on your resume is real job experience to help your resume look normal. Yes, certifications help, but they are not as good as experience (this is my opinion, so do what you think is best for you and your family!).
GT: Same as Mike, so I’ll answer his question. Yes, get your PMP (project management certification) to help bridge the gap between military jargon and civilian terminology. It’s essential to effectively communicate your military accomplishments to business terminology during the interview process. Furthermore, the PMP will provide the institutional understanding of scope, schedule, and budget, providing value in any business environment. In addition to the PMP, I’d also recommend an Agile-based certification if interested in tech and Lean Six Sigma to build a solid foundation in continuous improvement and operational excellence.
SW: I think if project management interests you, yes, if not no. Don’t do something because someone tells you to do it, do it because you want to.
Q7 What drives you every day?
MH: Wanting to provide for my family while being present in their lives.
JM: My values. Loyalty, Family, and Fun. Once I established and now live my own values, that drive grew and the desire to achieve my purpose became obtainable.
MW: Getting to come to work and hang out with people that I actually enjoy. While my job may not be the most fun and is full of angry customers or sales reps, my small teams and strong mentors are the reason I don’t throw my computer in the blender.
SF: Meeting new people and getting to learn new things. My favorite part of my job is interacting with new hires and other people in the company that I don’t work with regularly. Everybody has a story and some wisdom to share; I love making connections and learning from others.
GT: The need to get sh*t done. I’m energized by the desire to work with proactive teams to address and solve challenging systemic issues.
NB: The fact that no one day is the same, priorities shift, and you’re not always sure what to expect, but working with an incredible team of people makes anything possible.
SW: My team!
Q8 What book do you find most valuable?
MH: I’m not a big reader. However, I did enjoy Atomic Habits by: James Clear
JM: The Filthy Thirteen by Jake McNiece. Not necessarily a book on leadership but it was for me for better or worse.
MW: Colin Powell – It Worked For Me: In Life and Leadership
GT: This changes depending on what’s going on in my life. I read “Measure What Matter” by John Doerr in my transition. It was inspiring to learn how the most significant tech companies prioritize measurable goals, nested with higher, to advance the organization holistically.
SW: The Culture Code by Daniel Coyle or Boys in the Boat by Daniel James Brown. Culture Code is the best book on building teams and Boys in the Boat is the best book on teamwork. Business is a team sport.
Q9 What is a lesson you learned the hard way?
MH: Contrary to the many false statements made by SOF communities about how “easily” you will get a job upon separation from service, I learned that finding a good job was very difficult and time consuming. After separation, it took me 6 months to land my first job.
MW: You can’t talk like you’re in the military in corporate meeting settings…
GT: Break down silos without breaking glass. Relationships are essential, and not all glass is fixable. As Mike said, there is a necessary shift in tact and approach from military to civilian environments.
SW: If they don’t ask, they don’t want to know your opinion.
Q10 What defines a leader?
MH: Someone who will lead with humility and integrity. They will make decisions that are for the greater good versus ones that could be more beneficial for the few.
JM: How they take care of their employees and quality of leaders they themselves produce.
MW: This is based entirely on my opinion. For me, their ability to care for the well being of their team.
SF: Someone who cares about their team members and their success.
GT: The ability to influence others to row in the same direction and in unison to achieve challenging goals. All while keeping in mind what Mike and Sydney said above.
NB: Someone who trusts their team to make decisions and who communicates often, and as transparently as possible.
Q11 What is your favorite quote?
MH: “Only a life lived for others is a life worthwhile.” – Albert Einstein
JM: “Before you criticize someone, you should walk a mile in their shoes. That way when you criticize them, you are a mile away from them and you have their shoes.” – Jack Handey
MW: “Take care of your people, and your people will take care of you.”
SW: What the F***?!?; Onward;
“It is not the critic who counts, not the one who points out how the strong man stumbled or how the doer of deeds might have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred with sweat and dust and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs and comes short again and again; who knows the great enthusiasms, the great devotions, and spends himself in a worthy cause; who, if he wins, knows the triumph of high achievement; and who, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who know neither victory nor defeat.”
SF: “Work smarter, not harder.”
GT: “You’re the average of the five people you spend the most time with.”
NB: “Those who cannot change their minds cannot change anything.” – George Bernard Shaw
Q12 (8×8 specific): What unanticipated skills, talent, and/or competencies did you gain for employing Special Operators at your organization?
SW: Special Operators bring unique and challenging-to-find skills into the business world. One truism of the business world seems to be: that if you wait for all the information, you will be last. The best business leaders deal with imperfect information and yet still move solutions forward. Special Operators can collect a mosaic of data, form an opinion, and then move forward. They are then willing to adjust as new evidence becomes available, demonstrating the flexibility it takes to be successful in an ever-changing business environment. They have a demonstrated record of success both in the military, passing both challenging schools with high standards and real-world actions. They work exceptionally well at solving complex problems under stressful conditions. In the business world, this may mean a tight deadline, demanding customer, or technology setback. These challenges do not stop from progressing forward. Special Operators generally have solid 360 leadership. They know when to step up and when to follow – they work well with peers. They have very high levels of integrity. When they say it will get done to a high standard, they mean it both in terms of delivering on time and with attention to detail. Lastly, there is an intangible that Special Operators bring to the table: grit. Sometimes in the business world, things do not go as planned. An individual is willing to continue with a focus on the project’s objectives. They use setbacks as learning moments and rally the organization to do its best.