Kris served in the U.S. Army for nine years through 2014 as an intelligence sergeant, specialist and instructor with duties in the United States, Germany, Iraq and Afghanistan. In 2014, Kris transitioned to civilian employment with a Service-Disabled Veteran-Owned Small Business (SDVOSB) specializing in security engineering, electronics and information technology. They do work for private sector and U.S. Government customers in the Department of Defense, Department of State and Department of Justice with projects in the Middle East, Asia and Continental U.S. Kris started out as an individual contributor senior security engineer, but by the next year he found himself moving up to a key executive position as the company’s COO, which became his exclusive duty by the end of 2016.
Combat operations in Iraq had directly impacted the company’s business in such a way that the original founder was considering closing. Faced with the prospect of needing a new job, Kris stepped up to keep the business alive and growing. It’s a very small company, so Kris personally handles program and personnel management for every project, is engaged in customer-facing elements of business development and is the principal coach in the consulting arm of his business. He’s doing all of the normal things any small business executive does in the U.S. defense industry involved in classified operations overseas… three years out of the service! So the logical question becomes, “Why did someone as successful as Kris enroll in ACP’s Mentoring Program?”
As his Mentor, my short answer is that he realizes “he’s been too busy chopping wood to sharpen his axe,” and he seeks opportunities to deliberately and thoroughly develop his business experience and credentials based on corporate best practices. Will he one day run his own business or be a successful executive at a major firm? I have little doubt that he will. But he wisely understands that his success thus far is riding on serendipity and instinct more than the fundamental capability he has earned, so he wants to regroup and improve himself so that he can re-launch his career “the right way.” Throughout my 30 years of service in the U.S. Navy culminating as a senior officer in command of five units, I have mentored many dozens of enlisted service people and have never experienced such an ideal Protégé.
Mentor: W. Boothe Higgins, Portsmouth, Rhode Island, Raytheon