Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Veteran Spotlight: Joseph Capra

From the Battlefield to the Boardroom recently reconnected with Joseph Capra, who found his career through Orion in 2008, and shared his civilian career experience with us. Capra was a Field Artillery Lieutenant in the Army and separated in May 2008. He calls his transition "seamless" as his civilian career with Buckman Laboratories began a month before his actual separation.

Capra recalls that his transition was an adventure. “Although my career path was promising, my identity change from military to civilian was difficult. I began to miss being a soldier and soon felt the urge to go to the range and do PT in the morning,” he remembers, “I loved serving my country, my fellow soldiers, and being a soldier. But that desire to be back in the service eventually subsided, as I decided to follow through with my new life.”

Capra’s career is in specialty chemical sales for the pulp and paper industry. And he finds an interesting correlation between his career as an Area Representative and his military artillery experience. “I specialized in targeting. And many of the methods that I learned were translated into non-lethal targeting to achieve sales goals! In fact, my first sale was to sell the idea of getting out of the Army to my wife,” he muses.

Since starting at Buckman in 2008 as an Apprentice, Capra has been promoted to Sales Representative for three large accounts and most recently to a large territory. His next promotion will likely be Regional Sales Manager or Product Line Manager. 

His continued growth within the company is attributable in part to his military experience. “My job is half-technical and half-relational. Many managers have said: ‘I can teach someone the technical, but I can't teach ethics and relations.’ I have built business relations with managers that wanted to know more about my military service. I have also been able to find common ground with customers that have served in the past,” Capra explains. 

When asked for his advice to fellow vets, Capra says that relationships are more important now than ever. He cautions that you have to be diplomatic to get what you want. Capra advises: “Telling it abruptly ‘like-it-is’ works well in a disciplined military unit, but this is corporate America; and, yes, you can get fired out here. Civilians are more delicate. Leave your Drill Sergeant hat in the closet.” 

He also advises that veterans not settle for just any job. “There are lots of opportunities out here. Search within yourself, take inventory of your personal skills, and find a career path that falls in line with who you are,” Capra says, “You are a full-package deal that bring many skills that can't be taught in the best Ivy League schools.”

To learn more about Capra’s transition or to ask him a question, please click here.

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