Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Veteran Spotlight: Matthew Heid


From the Battlefield to the Boardroom recently caught up with Matthew Heid, a former US Army Engineering Officer who began his career as a Process Engineer for LMI Packaging Solutions in April 2013. Matthew tells us that finding a job was actually easier than finding house.  His wife was eight-months pregnant with their first child at the the time of the move, which was an interesting experience. But, they were able to live with his in-laws, which made the logistics of transitioning much easier.

In his new position, Matthew works for a company that makes heat seal lidding for a variety of food products.  “My job is to standardize our processes at LMI, make our production facility run more efficiently, and cut down on waste and inefficiency,” he says.  This position was newly created, so it’s been fun for him fun to define this job title for the company. 

Matthew does tell us, though, that the obstacles he faces in his civilian career are much like those during his time in the Army. “I’m young and new at my job.  However, my job is to implement new processes to improve our efficiency,” he explains, “Sometimes people here are resistant to change and say ‘This is the way we’ve always done it.’  This is the same as being a new Platoon Leader trying to implement change when your NCOs are resistant to change (especially when the change is coming from an officer who is young and inexperienced).”  

Obviously, Matthew didn’t receive any training in making yogurt lids in the Army, but some things he learned as an officer are helping him out in my current job. These include time management, hitting deadlines, handing multiple tasks at the same time, implementing change to an organization, increasing efficiency, etc.  Also, since Matthew is in manufacturing, there is a high emphasis on safety, and being a Company and Battalion safety officer prepared him well for that.   

“It’s been exciting to transition.  I enjoy the people I work with and am satisfied with the choice I made.  I have a lot of responsibility, and my boss trusts me and gives me a lot of latitude to complete my projects.  I am never told when to start/end work or how long my lunch is,” Matthew explains to us. The assumption is, he says, that, as a former Army Officer, he is responsible and will get the job done as quickly as possible.  He feels it’s great to have a lot of freedom to maneuver and work without a lot of micromanagement.

The military forces you to learn new jobs quickly, which is what Matthew is doing now.  He’s in a completely new industry where most people have been in the same field for years.  Adapting to new situations quickly is an Army norm, and it’s been helping him out at LMI.  “My time management and multi-tasking skills have also helped, but I have had to quell the urge to say ‘hooah’ when I don’t know what else to say!” jokes Matthew. 

Matthew sees a much greater emphasis on profitability in the civilian world than in the Army.  For this reason, he says it’s important for his fellow transitioning veterans to convince their future employers how they can save them money.  “Most businesses operate with razor thin margins, and labor isn’t cheap.  Convey that you can learn fast, make an immediate impact, and make the company more profitable,” he advises.

Matthew also says that if he is ever in a hiring position, he would look for a veteran that can learn quickly. He reminds companies that industry experience isn't everything. He’d hire someone with intangible leadership and organizational skills, and a strong work ethic any time.

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