Sunday, April 4, 2010

From Military to Business

While it has been a while since I finished my military service and I had finished my transition to the business world a long time ago, some of my Darden friends will be taking their first steps in doing so in about a month.

Darden is one of a few schools, along with MIT and NYU that are exceptionally military friendly. The Darden Military Association (DMA) provides the support and experience required for a smooth transition to the private sector and civilian life. Part of the perks is getting to meet some of the more interesting people who have taken this track.

This week the DMA hosted a breakfast with Kevin Sharer - CEO of Amgen and had the opportunity to discuss the transition described above combined with Kevin's life story (he insists his name is Kevin and not Sir) and contrast it with some background reading.

I found Kevin to be an honest, straight to the point, what you see is what you get type of person. When asked about his transition and his life flow that led him to his current position, he replied that "this is usually the first question I get and what you meant is "this guy has a cool job. I want to be like him. If I find out what his formula was, maybe I can do the same"". He then continued and explained that if he told us his story, we'd conclude that he won the lottery. But if we hear other people at similar positions' stories, we'd conclude they wont the lottery as well.

The truth is that life just happens regardless of plans and what we may think they will look like for us. It was nice, however, to hear that he thought (not surprisingly) highly of our military experience that besides leadership traits, has provided us with a high tolerance for ambiguity and independent and adaptive thinking.

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