Diversity, Equity & Inclusion

ZSers share how their military experience translates into success in consulting

By ZS Author

Nov. 7, 2017 | Article | 3-minute read

ZSers share how their military experience translates into success in consulting

In celebration of Veterans Day, meet four ZSers who say the unique experience they gained in the military has translated into a successful career at ZS in consulting—a profession that requires strong problem-solving skills, teamwork, adaptability.


Rachael, a manager in the Chicago office, was a Captain in the U.S. Army before joining ZS. While she was deployed, her primary responsibilities as an adjutant general—a personnel officer—included strength management, and finance, postal and casualty operations.


“The military gives you an appreciation for things that are life and death,” Rachael said. “While some situations in consulting may feel that way, they’re not. The problem will still be there in the morning, and sometimes stepping away and taking a break is all you really need. Don’t sweat the small stuff.”


ZSer Andrew, now a consultant in the San Francisco office, got his start in the U.S. Navy. He spent his first deployment onboard the world’s finest Destroyer as the Anti-Submarine Warfare Officer, primarily tasked with overseeing capabilities related to locating and tracking submarines. On his second deployment, when he was the navigator, his main concern was keeping the ship off the rocks and out of traffic.


Andrew said that although he loved exploring the local culture from Singapore to Bahrain, the best experience he had was as a navigator, pulling his ship back into port after a seven month deployment. “Watching from the bridge as sailors stepped ashore into the waiting arms of their wives, husbands and children, knowing that I played a small part in bringing our ship home safe,” he said, “will be a tough feeling to top.”


The Navy may not have helped Andrew hone his PowerPoint skills, but he says the perspective he gained has been invaluable to his consulting career. “With constant deadline pressure and client requests, it’s important to be able to step back and evaluate what’s really important.”


Before joining ZS’s Philadelphia office as a consultant, Christen was a Surface Warfare Officer in the U.S. Navy. She was responsible for 30-40 sailors and shipboard systems in engineering, as well as air defense radar systems. She also did a staff tour in Washington D.C. where she managed the Navy’s international exchange program and worked closely with foreign embassies.


While deployed, Christen was often at sea. She once went 107 days without seeing land! Her fondest memories include forming lifelong friendships and experiencing new places, some of her favorites being Oman, Thailand, Hong Kong and Canada.

When it comes to consulting, Christen says there are many parallels to her military career. “Both roles require the ability to manage a lot of moving parts at once, and always be thinking about the next steps and next challenges,” she said. “They also involve working on a team and leveraging the strength of others, and working at a fast pace on tight timelines.”


Another parallel? Figuring out how to quickly decode industry language. “Both the military and the pharmaceutical industry love acronyms,” she laughed.


Like Christen, Shawn, an associate in the Evanston office, served in the U.S. Navy before joining ZS. As an ROTC Battalion Commanding Officer, he was responsible for creating and executing a strategic vision and running his battalion’s day-to-day operations. After graduation, he was stationed in Pensacola, Florida, where he supported the operations of the flight training command.


One of the best lessons Shawn learned while serving in the military was the importance of taking care of your people when in a leadership role. “One of the unique things about ZS is that, even as an associate, you’re given a substantial role in leading meetings, client relationships, workstreams, and even other team members,” he said. “During it all, it’s important to show your clients and ZS team that you care about their well-being and success, and to motivate themby demonstrating your willingness to work hard and make an impact.”


On behalf of ZS, thank you to Rachael, Andrew, Christen, Shawn, and all those who have bravely served their countries around the world.


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