Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Veteran Spotlight: Kelly King

From the Battlefield to the Boardroom recently sat down with Orion alumna Kelly King, an Adjutant General Captain in the Army who was placed with Kansas City Southern Railway Company as a Director of International Rail Operations Support in December 2010, and discussed her transition experience. Here is what she had to say:

My transition from the military into the civilian world was exciting, but also proved to be emotionally challenging. When I first got out, I was just happy to start a new chapter in my life and excited to start applying my skills and knowledge to a new career. It was fun to research different opportunities and industries; however, as each month passed, it turned into more of a test of my patience and endurance.

The hardest part was waiting -– waiting to hear the news, whether it was good or bad, on a position that I had applied for. You just have to be patient and remain positive. I really had to push myself to continue looking and keep applying, regardless of the outcome. Overall, my transition was fine. I just had to be persistent and positive. I had the support of my husband and family to keep me going, which played a huge role throughout the entire process.

I served in the Army as an AG Captain and did not take any terminal leave or utilize any of the transition programs at the base other than the required classes/training we had to attend prior to transition. My last duty station was Camp Red Cloud, Korea. I left Korea the end of May 2010, but my husband did not leave until the end of July 2010. At that time, we did not know where he was going to get orders to, so I went to stay with my parents in Michigan and waited for my husband’s orders, which ended up being to Fort Riley, Kansas. I then drove my things to Kansas to meet him.

I am currently residing in the Kansas City area, because my husband is stationed out of Fort Riley in the Warrior Transition Unit. The move went well. From a logistical point-of-view, it was a bit challenging, because both mine and my husband’s things were scattered between Army storage in New York (from when we were stationed at Fort Drum), personal storage, and then our shipments from Korea. Everything made it, though, and we were able to get settled relatively fast.

My family dynamic changed a bit due to our transition. It was awesome to be “home” for about two months with parents and spend time with my family, yet it was a change for everyone for the time being. And it was just a bit strange when I moved to Kansas once my husband came over from Korea—just being home each day, and not waking up for PT and going to work. Luckily, I was finishing up my MBA (online) throughout the transition, and I think that was really a coping technique in disguise. It kept my mind busy and proved to be a valuable asset when the interview process

People make the transition for a multitude of reasons, and it is a personal decision. There are so many great reasons to stay in the military, and yet there are just as many reasons to make the transition out. For me, the practical considerations were along the lines of location stability and the opportunity to settle in one area. It was (and still is) important to me to be able to associate myself with a town or city, maybe purchase a home, and just stay in one place for a while on my own accord.

The easiest part of my transition was working with Orion. I initially had not been associated with the organization upon my transition in May 2010; it wasn’t until the beginning of November that I made the connection with Orion. Once I began working with them, my only concern was to prepare myself for the interview process. I no longer had to worry about submitting my resume and filling out countless job applications. Orion placed me in a Director position for Kansas City Southern Railway Company with a start date of December 1, 2010.

In my new position as Director of International Rail Operations Support, I have many responsibilities, including ensuring optimal levels of productivity, providing timely information to ensure a quality transportation product is delivered, providing coaching and mentoring of both Collective Bargaining Agreement and professional workforce in a 24 / 7 / 365 operation, and pursuing best-in-class operational excellence. Although I have only been in my new position for five months, I am discovering that there are a ton of opportunities for career advancement. And the benefits have been comparable, if not better, than in the Army. I have been extremely fortunate.

The similarities between the railroad industry and the military are really quite striking. My experience in the military prepared me to work in an environment that operates 24/7, address any challenges and issues simultaneously, and communicate with many groups on multiple levels to achieve a common goal or company objective. The military was great at preparing me and training me to multi-task. The ability to address multiple projects and requirements within a specified timeline has proven to be invaluable, especially in an industry where multiple variables affect the overall performance of the organization.

Team leadership (or people skills) and the ability to execute a plan are two military skills that serve me well in my new career. I think that everything I have learned throughout my career in the military has proven to be beneficial in some way or another. I do catch myself calling people “Sir” every once in a while and am usually told that they prefer to be called by their first name, along with something along the lines of “Sir? I don’t see my father in the room anywhere?”…all in a joking manner, of course. It’s just one of those things that have been hard for me to “fall-out of” or “unlearn”.

Veterans out there, don’t sell yourself short!

Want to learn more from Kelly? Check out her feaure on Transition Corner where you can contact her with your questions!

Kelly is also featured in a Military Times Edge article about the transportation industry. Check it out here.

1 comment:

  1. Great article and I could not agree more – one of the hardest things in transitioning from the military to a civilian job for me was learning patience. The change in pace is also hard to adjust too even after you land a civilian job and are integrated into the civilian workforce. Things move at a much different pace in civilian companies, many Veterans may find it a bit frustrating as I did during my initial job search nd in the early stages of my civilian employment. I am sure most have heard this phrase in the military at one time or the other; “Hurry up and wait”. Well, that phrase takes on new meaning when leaving the military. It seems after serving in the military for a good number of years, we get programmed to ‘hurry up’ but become easily frustrated with the ‘wait’ part. I would just like to pass on that there will be a lot of the ‘waiting’ out there, much more than you could imagine or like but it is the fact. My advice is similar to Kelly’s, keep your head up, expect things to move slow and be patient; something will work out as long as you keep trying. Also, take advantage of all the great online resources that are available to Veterans now. Prior to 2001, there were very few if any. Orion International’s website is an excellent resource to prepare transitioning Veterans in their job search. I particularly like the section they devote to Resume building and Interview tips. I would highly recommend that Veteran’s take a look at this site. I work at Siemens Energy in Florida and was hired under a Veteran’s preference status. Seek out those companies like Siemens that have active programs to hire and assist Veterans. Siemens also has a partnership with Orion International which shows their dedication to Veterans. These are the types of companies you want to work for.