Veterans Transitioning to Project Management and CIM Roles

Veterans retire with a variety of skills under their belts. These skills form a natural path from the military to the civilian workforce, notably translating into project management. To talk about this overlap, DJ Hughesa current armed forces reserve officer with twenty years of active service under his belt speaks to the host Tyler Kern of his transition to project management fifteen years ago.

“In my civilian career, I have held operations management and project management positions in various companies. I served in the Army Reserve,” Hughes said. He joined the Design Conveyor Systems team about a year ago.

The overlap lays the groundwork, but Hughes had some tweaks to make around the pace. “It’s drilled into you to move with a sense of urgency in military training,” Hughes said. There’s a good reason for that in the military, “but change can be hard.” Project management requires a steady pace that always takes into account the overall project goals and executes the steps sequentially.

In project management and frontline work, “Leadership is key, but we have to accomplish our mission, the tasks ahead of us,” Hughes said, “That mission mentality translates well to a mindset based on the project, because you have requirements, training that requires to arrive, budgets that you must respect.

Veterans are used to training and going from the tactical level to the strategic level. In project management, it’s all about planning. You have the right plans in place. You understand what needs to be done.

Communication is essential in the army, navy and air force. “Always give your intention, your mission. From the person at the top to the soldier, it’s clear they understand the ‘why,’” Hughes said. The critical parts of project management outline communication expectations in the early stages of planning. Throughout a project, communication must be clear. “We all have to understand the goal and how we’re going to execute to get there,” Hughes said.

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