From a grateful veteran

As we approach a day when the nation expresses gratitude to the men and women who have served in its military, this veteran would like to leverage Veterans Day 2016 to do three things: 1) Express gratitude for the opportunities that our military gave me; 2) Encourage hiring managers to seek out qualified veterans when filling jobs; and 3) Offer to assist any veteran who is making a career transition to the civilian workforce.
Paul J. Gennaro is senior vice president, Brand and Corporate Communications, and chief communications officer for Voya Financial. He began his career as a print/broadcast journalist and public affairs officer for the U.S. Navy.

Thank you Uncle Sam

It was about 29 years ago when the U.S. Navy took an 18-year-old kid from Jersey who didn’t have the money, the maturity or the grades to go to college, and gave him the opportunity to start a career.  It’s safe to say that my life transformed during the seven years that I wore the uniform.

I was fortunate to work for, and with, great people who taught me the public affairs and print/broadcast journalism professions.  Those same people also taught me about service, leadership and a sense of duty.  Everything that I’ve done or become — personally and professionally — is thanks in large part to the U.S. Navy.  And for that, I am eternally grateful.

An outstanding talent pool that hiring managers must consider

As a nation, we invest significantly in the training of our service men and women.  We develop experts in a multitude of fields and professional disciplines — skills that translate directly to the civilian market.  Beyond the world-class technical skills that the U.S. military delivers to our Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen and Marines, these men and women are also instilled with work-ethic, leadership and teamwork lessons that bring value to any workplace.

There are two points of emphasis that I would like to highlight for hiring managers.

  1. Diversity and inclusion is an increasingly important topic that reaches across industries and garners headlines.  There are few talent populations that are as diverse as America’s military.  Mid- to senior-level professionals that bring diverse backgrounds and perspectives are available right now.
  2. Hiring a veteran is an immediate value investment (and a growth investment).  Having worked with veterans to help them transition to the civilian workforce during the past several years, I’ve observed that the first civilian job a veteran obtains is generally a level or two below what their qualifications merit.  However, in order to begin establishing a civilian career, the veteran is appreciative for the opportunity and outperforms the role (at what could be described as a discounted compensation level).  Hire a veteran and your return on investment has a built-in upside.

Happy to help any veteran

I’ve maintained close ties with the Navy since I left to pursue a corporate career in 1994.  In 2013, I was asked to participate in a video series highlighting former Sailors titled “What I Learned in the Navy”.  Its purpose was to showcase the skills and leadership characteristics that Sailors learn during their service — and to communicate externally to civilian hiring managers/organizations what former Sailors can bring to an organization.

The attention generated following the Navy video led me to create a career mentoring program for veterans and Wounded Warriors — to help them find civilian employment.  The program was profiled on the July 4, 2013, special of the Fox News show The Five and subsequently expanded, connecting approximately 80 veterans with mentors.

It would be my pleasure to assist any veteran who is transitioning to the civilian workforce.  The challenges that military veterans face as they seek work in the civilian marketplace are well documented.  However, programs that help veterans with their career strategy through one-on-one mentorship have proven to be successful.  My approach is to work with the veteran throughout the job search process — as a career coach.  Please reach out to me if I can be of assistance at

From a grateful veteran to all who have served, thank you — and happy Veterans Day.