By Clarissa A. Peterson
Former Chief Human Resources and Ethics Office
Veterans Day is an important observance to honor the estimated 21 million men and women who have served our country. But the importance of veterans is not a one-day affair at Abt Associates.
I work diligently, year round, to ensure that Abt provides veterans more opportunities to grow their professional talents in civilian and uniformed service. These efforts include recruiting and retaining military talent, as well as participating in a selective program, Training with Industry (TWI), offered through the U.S. Army.
In spring 2016, the Army selected Abt as a partner in the TWI program, a highly competitive work experience program that places Army officers and Senior Enlisted Soldiers in private sector businesses. The Army offers Soldiers an opportunity to spend up to one year with a business, learning and developing corporate managerial techniques, skills and procedures that can later benefit the Army when Soldiers return to uniformed service.
Abt’s first TWI recruit, Sergeant First Class Shakara DeBose, joined the Human Resources Department in August and has been working as a human resources representative. Kara, as she’s known, says the program “is the best of both worlds. I have an opportunity to continue to serve the Army I adore, and to become part of the Abt family.”
Sgt. First Class Shakara DeBose In the Army, Kara deployed to Afghanistan 2002-2003 and to Iraq in 2003-2004. For the last 10 years, she has served in various locations as an Army Human Resources Specialist, most recently at the Joint Base Lewis-McChord in Washington state. Today, she works in Abt's HR Department and is developing ways to collaborate with military transition centers. These centers provide supportive career services to service men and women transitioning into civilian life.
“These centers are important places where Soldiers, their spouses and children can come and receive job training and learn about working in corporate America,” she says. “These centers train them on everything from creating a resume to explaining what kinds of clothes should be worn, which is a big deal when a soldier has worn a uniform every day for the last four years,” says Kara.
Looking ahead, she plans to coordinate with these centers to raise awareness of Abt and deepen partnerships with service men and women across all branches of the military. “Veterans have a lot to offer the private sector,” she says.
Along the way, Kara says this outreach and other projects at Abt will prepare her for life once she returns to Army service. “Leadership here has a lot of heart; it’s not just a title or that someone is a leader because he or she just happens to be a manager. When you have that heartfelt conviction, you get a different response from the people you work with and a different result, too.”
As for her experience at Abt, Kara says, “I have a whole different perspective on the function of HR and what it means to have a global impact. That mission is serious here. It’s genuine and not rehearsed. Everyone here cares about making a real-world impact and it’s exciting to be a part of it.”
Kara is already having an impact at Abt. She has quickly become a value-added member of our team. She has great ideas on tapping into the experiences and capabilities of our own veterans in the company, and offers new ways that we can see, think and act differently.
Read about Abt’s efforts to reduce veterans’ homelessness.