The military has a long history of producing top performing men and women. It’s no surprise that service members have not only performed exceptionally well during their time in the military, but they have also gone on to do great things after their military commitment was over. Veterans have touched nearly every industry across the spectrum, and now they are making waves in the tech industry thanks to a special group of people, two of whom are Harvard graduates and veterans themselves.
Justin Ossola and Nick Breedlove, both graduates of the United States Naval Academy, met during their time at the Harvard Kennedy School of Government. Their shared academy and military experience instantly bonded them together. So naturally, when Nick was asked to co-found a company called Tech Qualled, he reached out to Justin for assistance. They then became partners in developing a unique, innovative, mission-driven company designed to help transitioning veterans break into the high tech industry.
The idea of helping veterans break into the high tech industry was originally developed by Jim and Karen Sherriff. Jim was the Cisco Senior Vice President of Sales, and Karen had an extensive background in high tech through a combination of sales and teaching. Both were participating in the Fellowship Program at Harvard’s Advanced Leadership Initiative when they met Justin and Nick. Their passion and appreciation for veterans, coupled with the vision of filling a severe talent gap in the high tech space, is where the operation began. They wanted to take high-performing veterans and give them the skills necessary to be successful in high tech. In doing so, they could not only fill the gap in the tech industry, but they could also give veterans access to a career opportunity that they would otherwise not be qualified for.
In the past, high tech employers only wanted to bring seasoned sales reps on board, which is why the high tech industry is extremely challenging for service members to break into; however, the chronic shortage of high quality, high tech business-to-business salespeople has left employers with a dilemma. It’s easy to find people; it’s hard to find people with the right skill sets. This is where TQ’s vision really comes into play. The skills that make a successful sales rep are ones that service members already embody. Sure, most may not have sales experience, but they have motivation, drive, discipline and an undeniable work ethic. Those traits are highly sought after by employers, and much more difficult to teach than sales.
The enthusiasm and gratitude that Nick and Justin shared for the military naturally led them to focus the company around helping other veterans and service academy grads with their transition into the civilian world. That is why 100% of TQ candidates are veterans, and nearly 75% are service academy graduates. There are candidates from every branch of service ranging from officer to enlisted and spanning a wide range of military occupational specialties. And I’m sure it comes as no surprise that those candidates are now outperforming their peers in the industry.
A couple of TQ graduates from Cohort 1, Chris Harris and Lauren Burnell, have been working in their high tech positions for all of three months and have completely exceeded their company’s expectations. They have accomplished more in three months than what new account executives and system engineers usually do in six. Executives at leading technology companies are beginning to see the intrinsic value and financial justification of investing in early-in-career transitioning veterans.
Another TQ graduate and former Naval Academy classmate of Justin, Hayes Magnuson, is also exceeding expectations and disrupting the norm in the tech industry. Originally, after struggling to break into tech when he got out of the military in 2012, Hayes took a role in management consulting; however, when Justin mentioned TQ, Hayes jumped at the opportunity. Now, in the few months, he has been operating in the high tech industry, he has closed multiple deals and is on pace to meet or exceed his annual quota.
These are just a few examples of veterans continuing a legacy of greatness. Soon the high tech industry will be teeming with veterans, and one can only imagine what amazing advances they will make to an already cutting-edge industry.