Johnson Veterans Mentor Future Military Leaders

Earlier this month, about 30 Army Reserve Officers’ Training Corps (ROTC) cadets took a break from class to attend a guest panel hosted by seven veteran Army officers and current MBA candidates at the Samuel Curtis Johnson Graduate School of Management.

Johnson Veterans Mentor Future Military Leaders
Moderated by Rick McGuire, MBA ’14, president of Johnson’s Association of Veterans, the panel answered questions about their leadership and combat experiences and about what the cadets should expect during their first year as military leaders.

“We collectively wanted a way to give back to the Cornell community and to stay connected with the military,” said McGuire. “Helping contribute to the success of current cadets and future military leaders is the best way we can do that.”

The panel opened with a question about which skills acquired in ROTC and as a military officer translated best into the private sector and in business school. Jason Bradley, MBA ’14, answered, “I found the soft skills obtained from my leadership positions translated very well at Johnson. Providing purpose and direction to people, especially peers, is not natural for most people but is something that I did every day as an Army officer, and that has given me an experience advantage at Johnson.”

Panelists included Matt Haistings and Peter Sukits, both MBA ’13, as well as four students from Johnson’s MBA class of 2014: Corey Gilgan, Natoshia Spruill, Estelle Hong, and Jason Bradley. They represented a wide variety of Army branches, including infantry, artillery, adjutant general, engineering, logistics, and intelligence, and hailed from a number of undergraduate schools, including Cornell and West Point. All have recent combat experience and were happy to share their insights into the challenges and rewards of leading soldiers in that environment.

Students asked pointed questions about common mistakes, keys to success, and advanced Army training. They also inquired about overall expectations as they prepare for their upcoming transition into the Army as freshly minted officers. Panelists responded with candid answers, humor, and friendly banter. They emphasized decision making, teamwork, and tenacity as key qualities that led them to their success in the Army and at Johnson.

At the end of the session, Marine veteran and Johnson student Patrick George, MBA ’13, introduced an Association of Veterans mentorship initiative with the support of ROTC instructor, Captain Tim Pasto. The program will pair ROTC cadets with veterans in Cornell’s graduate schools with the goal of passing on valuable experience and answering cadets’ questions. The veterans look forward to sharing their experiences with the next generation of Army leaders.

By Carlos Wang, MBA ’13, and Rick McGuire, MBA ’14

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