Why veterans make excellent entrepreneurs ?
I hung uniform after nearly two decades in the Army. Thereafter, over the last seven years, I have tried my hands at corporate as well as entrepreneurial careers.
Even while I was in the Army, I had heard of many US veterans doing very well, some making it to the President's office and many more becoming billionaires. I had known about the successes of veterans like Lt Col Bedi of Tulip Telecom, Capt Gopinath of Deccan, Rajyavardhan and many others in sports, and some esteemed colleagues doing well in the strategic affairs and media space.
Post retirement, it has been heartening to see a new crop of military veterans doing very well beyond the traditional strongholds of defence, aerospace, maritime, corporate security, admin and logistics. Many are occupying the corner offices/suites and few gutsy ones are making their mark as entrepreneurs. Veterans are excelling in fields as diverse as IT, social, mobility cloud and analytics (SMAC), renewable energy, adventure, tourism, education and rural empowerment. Many who excelled in military careers continue to as well in their second innings. I have had two NCOs/WOs from my team making it to the Head of Security of leading MNCs; many of my former and current colleagues are on way to becoming successful entrepreneurs. They are all unanimous in their view that their military training laid a solid foundation for their post-military careers.
Shortage of good quality talent remains a major area of concern to corporate leaders. And the training and grooming system in many corporate organisations is not as mature as in good old military units. Good military veterans are now recognised as good leaders in operations; they excel in challenging environments. Qualities like integrity, adaptability, flexibility, credibility and reliability are highly valued in corporate world.
Why veterans do well?
I am asked this question frequently – Why should we hire military veterans? My thoughts are:
· Military veterans make good leaders, have high tolerance for ambiguity and understand the value of good followership. They have been trained in various types of occupations that involve teams, technologies, customer/public service, management, operations, maintenance, sales and more.
· Military experience fosters great respect for procedures. Veterans are goal-focused and not afraid to tackle challenges to reach results. Business continuity and contingency planning occurs naturally to them. They excel in crisis situations.
· They work hard and stay fit and rarely take unscheduled duty off due to illness. They do not crib about working till late, waking early and/or working in challenging environments.
· They value team work and face challenges with gusto. Honour, duty, loyalty, integrity, courage and commitment come naturally to them. They have genuine concern and empathy for their teams.
Lessons learnt in military have served me well in my corporate and entrepreneurial innings. My advice to you is that as long as you are in the Army - work hard, play hard and enjoy hard. Do not worry too much about the post-military career. If you have imbibed the learning of military well, have an abiding belief in the value system, and are ready to listen, learn and adapt, you are destined for great glory int he second innings. With Indian economy set to grow rapidly, and India's tryst with destiny being inevitable, re-inspired/re-attired military veterans would continue to be in demand.
About the author
Col S M Kumar (retd): Winner of Sword of Honour and President's Gold Medal at Indian Military Academy and graduate of Staff College, Camberley, Sam is the Vice Chairman and Managing Director of MitKat Advisory Services, a premium management consultancy. A serial entrepreneur, he has also co-founded Def Mart, Urja Kendra and Vision Initiatives Pvt Ltd.