Heroes Work Here seminars help ESPN hiring managers appreciate veterans’ transition skills

Kevin Preston speaks to a group of ESPN employees. (Hannah Worster/ESPN)

Editor’s note: In March, the Walt Disney Company and President and Chief Executive Officer Bob Iger announced an important new initiative to recruit and hire military veterans across all segments of the company.

Heroes Work Here. Employ excellence. Hire veterans” is Disney’s pledge to find career opportunities for 1,000 veterans over the next three years. The company has launched a national campaign to encourage all employers to hire veterans. Additionally, employees will be encouraged to serve veterans organizations through Disney’s VoluntEARS program.

As part of the Heroes Work Here initiative, ESPN has engaged in a series of presentations to familiarize staff with military culture and experiences. Led by Kevin Preston, Director of Human Resources, Veterans Initiative for Heroes Work Here, these presentations help hiring managers translate military tasks and responsibilities into corporate language and learn more about military values and behaviors.

Front Row sat in on a presentation and then asked Preston for some insight on the program, which will continue to be offered to the ESPN team throughout 2013.

What is the purpose of your presentations?
There are three different classes that we teach: one for leaders, one for recruiters and one for the college program around internships. But they all have the same purpose — to familiarize the non-military person with the offerings and potential of veterans.

What’s the most helpful thing managers take away from these sessions?
Managers often want a new employee to hit the ground running because the job was vacant for a period of time. Veterans have the skills to do that. I can draw lines between any military position and one in the corporate setting. The tasks and responsibilities are the same. These veterans are young people between 22-30 years old with a strong set of intrinsic motivators and interpersonal skills. They can work under extreme pressure, make decisions in very stressful environments, assimilate into teams and learn new tasks. They bring incredible value in addition to task-oriented skills honed in harsh, difficult environments.

Can you explain generally why veteran underemployment is a problem and how TWDC is addressing it?
Our military men and women are widely respected. The only piece that is missing in the equation is how to help these skilled individuals who can perform these jobs bridge the gap between the military and the corporation. That’s exactly what The Walt Disney Company is doing — building a bridge between the military and the company. “Heroes Work Here” is an educational platform and a resource where veterans can also learn how to write corporate resumes and better prepare for interviews. In talking to a lot of companies, the training aspect we have at Disney is pretty novel.

Added Joe Franco, College Relations Manager, who took the course and helps to recruit military men and women on college campuses: “We need those veterans as their culture so much identifies with ours. In order to give veterans a chance to tell their stories, we need to help them convert their experience and language into our own language. We talk about promoting our future, keeping up with technology, sparking innovation and creativity. They are our future. They are this company’s future.”

To learn more about how TWDC helps military personnel transition to corporate life, visit http://heroesworkhere.disney.com/transitions.