Veterans Bring Leadership to the Waters Team

By November 11, 2021


At Waters, we strive to unite and celebrate our diverse employee population. To this end, we have established Employee Circles, which create safe spaces where employees can share their experiences and learn from each other. Just before the pandemic, we launched the Veterans Circle—an employee resource group designed for and composed of Waters veterans and allies. The Veterans Circle allows us to gain insight into the advantages of serving in the military, particularly these colleagues’ ability to lead, support a team, accomplish goals, and achieve success.

For those of us in the U.S., we honor those who served on Veterans Day. In many countries, today is known as Remembrance Day. Regardless of whether you have a formalized day to recognize veterans in your country, I encourage you to meet them and hear their stories throughout the year. At Waters, we celebrate veterans every day.

I’ve spoken in the past about how my military experience shaped how I lead today. This year, I asked a few colleagues about their service.

Let me introduce a few of my fellow veterans:

Allan Aikman in uniform, 1972

April DuBrul in Basic Training

Jonathan Saulnier in uniform

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Allan Aikman has supported our Global Quality Training team since 2017 and served for over 25 years in the Corps of Royal Electrical and Mechanical Engineers in the British Army.

April DuBrul has been with Waters for two years and is currently a Professional Services Director. After graduating from high school, she joined the U.S. Army Reserves during Operation Desert Storm and served as an operating room technician assigned to the 1984th U.S. Army Hospital at Ft. Wainwright, AK.

Jonathan Saulnier has been with Waters for 18 months on our Global Operations team. He was a U.S. Army officer for eight years and performed supply and maintenance functions for infantry and armored unit.

 

Tom Wesley in flight

Mark Wreschak

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Tom Wesley is approaching his 20th anniversary at Waters, having spent his time in a variety of roles within our Global Operations team. Today, he is a member of the Business Continuity Task Force, leading the workforce safely through the COVID-19 pandemic. Tom’s military service began at the U.S. Merchant Marine Academy. He later attended flight school and went on to hold strategic positions at the Pentagon within the Organization of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.

Mark Wreschak has been at Waters for 21 years and is currently a Critical Escalation manager. He served for almost 15 years in the British Armed Forces as a diver, sniper, attended and passed an All Arms Commando course and Para P Company, and also served as a regimental policeman.

To learn more about the individual experiences and accomplishments of these brave and honorable colleagues, I asked them to share what they learned during their military career, how these skills have transferred to other industries and the significance of Veterans Day and Remembrance Day in their lives.

Q: What was the transition from service to the civilian job market like?

Jonathan: “It was pretty smooth—I was hired by a guy who had been in the Air Force, so he understood that transitioning from the military can be challenging. He was instrumental in helping me build my internal network and getting me acclimated to civilian life. Although many elements of civilian life were different—it took me a while to stop jumping to my feet when my manager walked into my office!”

Allan: “In my last role in the Army, I was responsible for the maintenance of equipment and liaised with civilian companies, which made my transition fairly easy. I became a project manager for a company that built equipment for the British Army.”

Tom: “My transition was rather gentle as I was not only employed by a defense contractor but also was flying in the Naval Reserves. Still, it was a mixed sort of culture: those who had served and those who had not. It did not create a schism, but it became obvious to me that military people just thought differently, processed the facts independent of bias, and solved the problem. I learned to allow people to air their opinions and solutions and to work towards a consensus rather than dictating a solution.”

Q: What did you learn from your time in the military that you bring to your role today?

Jonathan: “Being an officer in the military is a crash course in leadership. On my 22nd birthday, I was asked to lead a platoon of 75 soldiers, some of whom were nearly twice my age. By 26, I was in charge of over 200 people. There is no ramp, and expectations are high from day one. I think it’s been the same experience for me in my role at Waters. Visible leadership from the onset is important, and the ability to articulate what direction we’re going—and show progress towards that direction—is key to engaging the team’s hearts and minds.”

Mark: “My time in the military gave me an ability to manage diverse situations and to work across diverse teams. It also taught me to self-manage, manage upwards and across, and be self-reliant when needed. In almost all cases, it’s a team effort with a common objective of mission “customer success.” To me, everyone is a contributor no matter how small that contribution or where they reside in the organization.”

April: “Discipline was a huge takeaway from the military for me. For Professional Services, the key to providing efficient and profitable service, along with delighting your customers, is building repeatable, predictable project cycles. My team has instituted continuous process improvement over the last couple of years and has done a fantastic job reducing those project cycles.”

Tom: “As a pilot, there is a firm sense of discipline in working the basics. Mission preparation, flight planning, pre-flight inspection, crew briefing and debriefing. What worked well; what did not? What can we do to make sure we are better prepared to safely execute the mission the next time we fly? Lives depend upon that discipline. I also learned that big problems are really just a series of small problems. Work the situation. Gain some ground on the problem. Look for the opportunity to make advance. Written in letters three feet tall in my squadron hanger were these words: Lead, follow, or get out of the way. There is a time for each action, but when in doubt—Lead!”

Q: What do you do to celebrate or recognize Veterans Day or Remembrance Day?

April: “Both of my sons (6 and 11) participate in choir at their schools, and every year they have a program to recognize veterans. I have spent the last couple of months listening to my 6-year-old singing (and learning) the “Star-Spangled Banner” off-key and sometimes with the wrong words. This will be his first year performing, and I absolutely cannot wait to hear him!”

Allan: “One year, I was the organizer for the poppy collections in the town where I live. In the UK, the poppy collections for the Royal British Legion are among the biggest charity collections for veteran support. This year, I will be at the National Arboretum for a remembrance service on 11th November.”

Mark: “I attend the local remembrance service. I remain in contact with those I served with and meet where and when we can—we chat about the good times and the bad. I remember those friends, some very close, that never came home and their families, and remember those who gave up so much before us.”


Leading and working with a team. Making decisions under pressure. Trusting yourself and others to get the job done. These are just a few of the many skills gained through military service. As you can see, our veteran colleagues significantly contribute to the success of our organization. We are proud to have veterans from all walks of life among our ranks, and we are eager to continue highlighting what these team members have to offer and learning from their expertise.

Read more about Veterans at Waters

Blog: Reflecting on Lessons in Leadership

Blog: Honoring our Veterans Around the World

 


Categories: Leadership