Meet the Mentor is an in-depth interview with an ACP Mentor that seeks to learn from his or her personal perspective on life, leadership and mentoring.
Jon is a Wealth Director at PNC Wealth Management. A veteran, he graduated from the US Naval Academy in 1995 and served as a SEAL for six years. Jon is a member of PNC’s Military Employee Business Resource Group and has served as a Mentor with ACP since PNC joined ACP in 2014.
Q. What stands out to you about your transition from a Navy SEAL to financial services?
When I initially transitioned, I actually found myself not in the financial services industry but in an operations job at a production plant. It was not a good fit, and I lasted three weeks! The day I quit is the day my eyes opened to all the possibilities out there.
Q. What did you do next?
I started my own personal search, literally at home, by myself.
At the time, the Naval Academy Alumni Network Directory wasn’t online, it was a book. I called through it and talked to as many people as I could. Getting a sense of what professions were most suitable for me, I was attracted to the financial services industry because of its competitive and challenging culture. It seemed to best match the world where I was coming from.
Q. What did you want to know when you were transitioning?
I remember thinking, “Can you tell me what ‘I can do anything means?’” Getting to do “anything you want” can be difficult! I wish that I had developed a stronger network of Mentors earlier in my career, both military and civilian.
Q. Do you have a network of Mentors now?
Yes, they are my “Jedi Council”. It is made up of people who will give me solid and thoughtful advice on what I should be thinking, where I should be going, what I should be working towards, what they see in me and where I’m failing.
Q. Is your business philosophy different from your military philosophy?
It’s not much different. There’s a solid vein of military DNA baked into who I am that guides my decision-making and thought process. That is at the core. But the difference is, I don’t lead with that. I’m not a military-type leader in a corporate environment. I’m a corporate leader with a military background.
Q. How do you share your military experiences with colleagues who are curious about it?
This has been a learning process. The SEAL teams has a culture of silent pride so I had grown accustomed to hiding it. That was at a disservice to the military and to my colleagues who wanted to know more. You want to be able to say, “Thank you for appreciating military members for their service,” because it hasn’t always been that way.
Q. How did you become more comfortable sharing your story?
By developing deeper friendships with my colleagues. When people ask you about your military background, say “I’d love to go out to lunch and tell you more about it if you are interested.” Don’t be afraid. Don’t be protective. Focus on building strong relationships.
While the SEAL teams is a brotherhood built on teamwork, a strong company values relationships in the same way. Relationships have everything to do with your success in and out of the military.
Q. There’s a clear standard of progression in the military but that’s not the case in the corporate world. What is your advice to best manage your career path outside of the military?
Open up your mind to a non-linear career path. Be open to conversations outside of your specific job, learn about every aspect of the business and ask “new guy” questions. Take note of not just what you can do, but what you like to do. Notice what brings you more excitement, more energy.
Knowing what you like to bring into the workplace is just as important for career progression as knowing the next step.
If you are a post 9/11 veteran interested in being paired with one of our Mentors like Jon, apply here.