Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Veteran Spotlight: Jon Welch

Jon Welch is a graduate of the University of Tennessee, where he earned his BS, and Regis University, where he earned his MBA in 2005. Welch, a former Nashville Metro Police Officer and a retired Major in the Army National Guard, worked as a Production Supervisor from 2000 through 2005, with an HVAC/Building Controls company. In 2005, however, Welch sought to change employers due to the shutdown of his local operation. Welch turned to Orion International to find a new civilian career and accepted a position with Trane in Clarksville, Tennessee, as a Production Supervisor.

Welch spent the next 18 months in that role and worked on the company’s Voyager 2 assembly line. During that time, he was promoted to the position of a Six Sigma Black Belt in the Quality department. In 2008, Welch was promoted to Large Commercial Production Manager where he has been ever since. In this position, he has run Intelipak and Chiller/Splits lines. Six years after beginning with Trane, Welch currently has responsibility for the Large Commercial and Support areas with a team of over 250 hourly employees, six production leaders, a departmental manager, and four manufacturing engineers.

Welch began his military career in 1983 as a Private in Armor and retired after 24 years of service with the TN National Guard. “The importance and impact of my military experience and how it has helped me in my civilian career cannot be downplayed. I constantly pull from my military background in my dealings with subordinates, as well as superiors,” says Welch of his how his military experience has helped with his career progression, “I understand what it means to take orders, set directions, plan, execute, and ultimately deliver based upon the needs of the business. It’s been years since I actually studied military leadership, but the lessons learned in the military continue to help me make the right decisions daily, which has been a key to my success.”

Welch goes on to say that almost anyone can manage a business given some training. However, not everyone is able to truly lead people, and that is a skill set the military is good at honing. In fact, Welch often feels better qualified than his non-military peers. “There is no better training ground than the US military. Where else can a 22-year-old sign for millions in equipment and learn what it takes to lead in the harshest of environments and circumstances?” poses Welch.

Having had a dual career, both civilian and National Guard, Welch advises veterans to stop thinking of what you need from a company. Focus on what they need from you and how you can fill that void. Once they decide they need you, then you can decide upon the best job offer that suits your needs. Remember that you have a can-do attitude and have proven that you are not a quitter. “I have my bad days, but I remind myself of various particularly nasty field exercises, training, or deployments, and, then my stress seems to be marginalized, and I keep plugging away,” says Welch.

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