Accenture’s Tauni Crefeld on Challenges Veterans Face When Transitioning

November 9, 2017 4:03 pm

Tauni Crefeld served as an Air Force Security Police captain for five years, responsible for up to 50 security police resources. Before joining the military, she graduated from the U.S. Air Force Academy with a B.S. in Engineering. After leaving the Air Force, Tauni joined Accenture as an analyst — at new joiner level — and 19 years later is a Managing Director in the company’s Communications, Media and Technology Consulting practice, leading large complex delivery projects for clients.

Why are veterans a great fit for professional careers?

Veterans improvise, adapt and overcome. We get thrown into lots of different, unexpected situations in the military, and you must adapt. The consulting world is very similar. Consultants take on different clients and projects — they must be flexible, able to learn on-the-go and comfortable with change. A career in the military lends itself well to consulting. I also find Accenture to be very collaborative and team-oriented, which fits the spirit of camaraderie that veterans experience in their team or squadron.

What challenges do veterans face when transitioning?

The mission is fundamentally different. I was an Air Force Security Police captain running around with M-16s. After the military, I had to put down my gun and pick up a laptop. Skills like cyber security are directly applicable and easily transfer to the workplace. But infantry men and women, or military police, have fundamentally different skills that aren’t as easily transferable — though they have skills like leadership and ingenuity that are extremely valuable in the civilian workforce. Companies in the private sector can miss the mark on helping veterans translate their military jargon into professional skills — there needs to be a lens to translate. Our veteran recruiting team, all veterans themselves, help provide that lens. “When you say ‘logistics,’ you mean ‘supply chain.’” Simple things like that go a long way.

Advice for veterans looking for a career in the professional world?

You have to be willing to step back and learn. If you’ve  been out there leading troops, you might start professionally in a lower ranking position — and you must be willing to do that. If you enter the private sector expecting you’ll be the same level, or lead teams of people on day one, you may struggle. It’s all about learning and adaption to advance.

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