Veterans Put Military Skill Set to Use at Mission Critical Jobs

whitehouse(Ping! Zine Web Hosting Magazine) –  “If you want somebody who’s going to get the job done, hire a veteran.” – President Obama, State of the Union 2015

And if you want to hire someone who can handle the high stakes environment and pressure of a mission critical infrastructure position, hire a veteran.

Transitioning from military to civilian life can be challenging for veterans, particularly in relation to entering the civilian workforce. Historically, veteran unemployment rates have been higher than the overall unemployment rate, but when compared in current times, veteran unemployment rates are equal or lower. Current February data shows the overall unemployment rate at 5.5% and the veteran unemployment rate at 5.3%. When looking at unemployment numbers for younger veterans, that number jumps to 9.2%.

For veterans, the challenge is finding a job that utilizes the skillset acquired during their training and service. Mission critical facilities and infrastructure positions, defined as a function, service or utility that must be maintained under all circumstances to protect the business and public, require the military skillset to be accomplished successfully.

These positions can be found in many industries, including power plants, hospitals, refineries, web hosting and in our case – a data center. Approximately 29% of our workforce is comprised of veterans, and we are looking to fill open positions with additional ex-military candidates.

Why hire a veteran for a mission critical infrastructure job?

The skills, training, education, experience, qualifications and disciplined mindset are a perfect fit. Veterans exhibit attention to detail, process discipline, and a procedural-based structure, all of which are necessary to succeed in a mission critical position. In the military, you learn leadership, management, teamwork and how to develop your colleagues. It’s an extremely well-rounded learning experience that truly develops people for success. And as we know, in the military the stakes of a mistake can prove to be fatal. The ability to work effectively and successfully under high pressure is critical for survival.

When applied to critical infrastructure businesses, these employee skills are priceless assets.

For a data center, maintaining uptime is the crux of success. Without power, and cooling, data center clients can lose thousands of dollars in seconds, not to mention the irreversible damage done to the reputation of the data center. What is the leading cause of data center downtime? Human error.

FORTRUST has found that the most effective way to mitigate downtime risk is to hire veterans. As a veteran who served for 16 years in the Navy, I credit my professional success to the skills I gained in service. In the military, the focus was on training and developing structured protocol. I used these lessons to develop our data center processes and procedures and in part due to this structure, we have maintained continuous critical systems uptime since opening our doors on September 12, 2001. In the data center industry, continuous uninterrupted uptime is a rarity.

Among many other areas of expertise, working in a data center requires electrical and electronics skills, mechanical and HVAC skills, drawing/print reading and interpretation skills, electrical and mechanical systems troubleshooting skills, and analytical problem-solving skills.

For a data center, we have found that some job functions in the military directly translate to the data center. One of our employees worked in Navy nuclear power, which included thermodynamics, chemistry, mechanics, mathematics, materials, electrical theory and reactor physics – all of which center around power and cooling, and being reliable. He said the only difference between the equipment at the data center and the equipment on a ship is the origin of the power source. Just as on a ship, extensive preventative and predictive maintenance is required to keep systems at a data center running smoothly.

This doesn’t mean that veterans walk in the door with an understanding of how a data center works. Many are unfamiliar with the data center industry. But the foundation of their skillset allows them to quickly become embedded into the industry with ease.

As they say, “It takes a village.” As a company, you are only as strong as your team. Our veterans have helped grow FORTRUST into the thriving data center that we are today.

By: Rob McClary, Senior Vice President and General Manager at FORTRUST