Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Veteran Spotlight: Elizabeth Woolfolk

From the Battlefield is pleased to have recently caught up with Orion alumna Elizabeth Woolfolk, a former Army Musician who attended OCS and then served as an Ordnance Officer and Force Management Officer. Elizabeth shares her transition story and what she’s learned in the past year-and-a-half in her civilian position as a Senior Buyer with Honda.

I served in the United States Army from 1999-2015. My military experience gave me a level of discipline and strength to succeed in the civilian workforce. I think the ‘tough skin’ part paid off.  I’ve learned to get through tough situations. For example, my 15-month deployment to Iraq. That was a very long, very difficult deployment. I learned that I can handle some extremely physically, mentally, and emotionally tough situations and still come out on the other side a stronger person,” says Elizabeth.

As Elizabeth says, military skills don’t always have to have a direct correlation to a civilian career to translate to success. “I’m in the automotive industry now. Though I didn’t necessarily work in automotive while in the military, the other skills I gained through the band field experience, Logistics, and Force Management helped a lot. I learned and honed my organizational skills, business acumen, and negotiation/communication skills.”

Elizabeth realized throughout her career that she enjoyed “putting puzzle pieces” together, and interest is now a big part of her civilian job.  “For my position, I manage different logistics and payment systems, but an even bigger part of my job is strategy,” explains Elizabeth, “I analyze and recommend future activity based on current cost and supplier base strategy, as well as evaluate ways to consistently keep costs of our products down while still maintaining high quality.” 

Like many veterans, Elizabeth also explains that one difficult part of transitioning is not using military jargon. She says that she finds herself still using it to the “utter confusion (and amusement) of my coworkers”. She also finds the civilian workplace to more relaxed than the military. “Being in the military, I always maintained a level of watchfulness and military bearing.  While I maintain that bearing, I am now in a position to be have a say in what happens in the workplace. The civilian world is definitely a lot less autocratic,” she explains.

Since she took this position with Honda North America through Orion, Elizabeth has gained a lot of technical knowledge and improved her business and strategy skills. She’s been recognized by her management as a strategic thinker, a hard worker, and very professional. She has also been identified as a future leader in the company. 

We asked Elizabeth what advice she has for her fellow transitioning veterans. Her biggest piece of advice: Be open and accepting to change. “I’d tell my fellow veterans to embrace change as they transition into the civilian world. Set your pride and ego aside and learn from your peers and management. You will earn their respect, and, eventually, you’ll see that they come to YOU to learn.” Elizabeth says when it’s time to move on from the military, let go, move on, and embrace today.

Click here to read more about Elizabeth's transition to Honda and even ask her a question.

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