Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Veteran Spotlight: Herb Congdon



In continued celebration of Orion’s 20th anniversary, this week we profile Herb Congdon, a former Navy Nuclear Submarine Program Officer placed by Orion with Siecor in 1991. Congdon was commissioned in the Navy following his graduation from the Georgia Institute of Technology, where he earned a Bachelors of Electrical Engineering degree. During his six years on Active Duty, he spent time on a fast attack submarine out of Charleston, SC, and Portsmouth, NH, and as a Squadron Operations Officer (shore tour) in Charleston, SC.

Congdon decided to start his civilian career with Siecor (now known as Corning Cable Systems) partly because of location, and partly because of the technology—at that time fiber optic communication was still in an early growth stage with a visibly approaching boom. Also, he liked the fact that Siecor targeted JMOs, so there were already several former officers rising through the ranks of the company.

Congdon felt that his military experience translated well into his position as a Process Engineer with Siecor. “The military career taught me a lot about myself – what I was capable of doing, how to take appropriate action, and how to be calm in a crisis. Further, it put a lot of other experiences before and after into perspective. It was, undoubtedly, a very high-stress environment. However, that made 'routinely' stressful situations much easier to handle. Further, it strengthened my organizational skills, competency, and sense of responsibility. As I often say, I wouldn't recommend it to just any person, but I became a much stronger individual and performer as a result of the experiences I survived,” said Congdon of his time in the Navy.

While Congdon started out at Siecor as a Process Engineer, he felt could better use his customer presence and presentation skills in a more customer-focused role. With this in mind, he took a position as an Application Engineer supporting the Japan market, a very demanding role which required several trips to Japan. Congdon’s success positioned him to be promoted to a supervisor role in applications engineering, which he feels was truly a great position that took advantage of his Navy-built leadership skills while letting him focus on the customers.

After eight years at Siecor, Congdon transitioned into a technical marketing role working for Tyco Electronics (now TE Connectivity), where he became "the" fiber guy. From that position, Congdon moved onto a global product management role and then back into technical marketing with global responsibilities. And while he does not conduct the actual hiring at TE Connectivity, he has had opportunity to conduct many interviews. Congdon has found those with military experience to be more mature, more responsible, and to possess a greater sense of initiative than candidates without military experience.

On the other side of the coin, Congdon advises veteran job seekers not to second guess their decision to separate and accept a civilian position. “Make the best decision you can at the time with the information you have and run with it,” he states, “You'll always learn something later that might have influenced your decision, but don't stew over it or you'll be miserable. You still made a good decision, so make the most of it.”

Congdon’s past success at Siecor and continued success at TE Connectivity is yet another testament to the value that veterans bring to civilian organizations. Stay tuned for another profile of an early Orion placement.

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