Advancing Life & Work

HPE Teams With USO Metro To Help US Military Service Members Prepare For What's Next


 Imagine the following scenario:

You are a successful Product Manager with more than ten years working in Corporate America.  You have been to the best schools and have a track record of success.  Everything is going great as you have worked up through increasing levels of responsibility.....and then Boom!!  You decide to leave your company to join an Army Ranger Battalion as the new Assistant Fire Support Coordinator.  You skip the Army schools and you just show up ready to work.  That's right.  No schools, no preparation.  Just your wicked smarts and can-do attitude.  You have never ever been on an Army Post before.  You now urgently need to get your new uniforms and gear as you have live-fire FEX next week.  A FEX?  What's a FEX?  The S-3 wants to see you in his office, ASAP for an IPT.  An IPT?  What?!!

Former Army veteran, Winston Davis (2nd from right) surrounded by his HPE teammatesFormer Army veteran, Winston Davis (2nd from right) surrounded by his HPE teammates

Now most would agree that the above scenario is unrealistic, yet we expect our military veterans to roll into the corporate world with the same limitations as that Product Manager would have trying to orchestrate fires for that Ranger Battalion. Unfortunately, this is the norm for most of our military service members leaving active duty these days.  Our military’s mission and resources are rightly focused on combat readiness, not on preparing our troops for work after their service. This is where we in Corporate America can help out.   While there are programs out there to help them prepare for corporate work, including a new revolutionary option to do internships while still on active duty, much of the transition work-load is focused around interviewing skills and finding that first job. If only there were more programs focused on helping service members get up and running fast in that first job. These skills would also have other obvious benefits in helping service members articulate their value proposition in their job search.

Our core values at Hewlett Packard Enterprise are to innovate, partner and to have a ‘Bias of Action’. So we mobilized a team which included some of our partners and did something about this problem.  


Two recent veterans pondering a complex problem with their HPE teammateTwo recent veterans pondering a complex problem with their HPE teammate

With many veteran employees and veteran-allies at Hewlett Packard Enterprise, there was a ground swell of support to help out around this challenge. We saw a need around helping veterans with their business skills which could be leveraged to get up and running fast in that first job.

Specifically, we thought we could provide a course which could help transitioning service members practice and learn insights around ‘How to get things done” in the corporate world. In short, how to move, communicate, and collaborate in OUR world.

We designed a business skills curriculum and planned to assign an HPE employee as a mentor to each student to help with the workshop as well as be a sounding board for any transition topics.




We also collaborated with some of our HPE partners who hire veterans and received multiple offers to support this initiative including guest speakers to augment the HPE facilitators. Vision Technologies and PM-ProLearn – both veteran-owned businesses in the Washington-DC area - stepped up with offers to provide speakers on relevant topics. The workshop would last six weeks and culminate with a Shark Tank capstone event where the service members could showcase their relevant business skills. Now all we needed was an anchor partner to host our venture.

Four (4) recently transitioned veterans @ HPE with their teammates in Plano, TXFour (4) recently transitioned veterans @ HPE with their teammates in Plano, TX

We found a great partner with the USO of Metropolitan Washington-Baltimore (#USOMetro) to “get this done”. They were already sponsoring accreditation programs for transitioning service members, and the business skills track filled a gap as well as complemented their other programs. They have been an amazing partner and it is an honor to be part of their Project Next STEP Program.

We kicked off our first cohort on September 21st at Fort Belvoir with classes on Design Thinking, The Power of Storytelling and Business Outcomes, and look forward to the next six weeks of learning about working in the corporate world. The students take online business courses during the week and then meet once per week at the USO’s classroom for a face-to-face working session. Stay tuned as our new Design Team of ten transitioning service members tackles some real-world business problems. 

Transition Class design team practicing their storytelling on 9/21/17.Transition Class design team practicing their storytelling on 9/21/17.

In fact, if you have a real-world challenge which you want this team to pull some insights around, please comment below and let’s see what they can come up with. Together, Let’s Get-R-Done…

HPE Veteran Allies supporting our troops during a volunteer activity with the USO.HPE Veteran Allies supporting our troops during a volunteer activity with the USO.

About the authorJames Gonsalves, Sales Director at Hewlett Packard EnterpriseJames Gonsalves, Sales Director at Hewlett Packard Enterprise

James Gonsalves is the Veterans' Program Lead for HPE's Public Sector team.  He partners with System Integrators to leverage IT solutions to achieve positive business outcomes for their clients. His team works across multiple areas to include Hybrid Cloud, Mobility, Data Migration, Edge Computing, IoT, Storage, Big Data and Security.   

He is a retired Marine with a passion for helping veterans find meaningful work after they leave active duty. Stay connected with James on LinkedIn and reach out if you have any questions. 

Learn more about HPE's Veterans Program and start your career. 


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