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Honoring Apogee Veterans During A Two-Day Retreat

November 18, 2021

By Jonathan Alford

I’m excited to guest blog for Apogee today, and I hope you enjoy reading about the amazing team of veterans who now dedicate themselves to helping higher ed transform with technology. I’m the Director of Managed Campus at Apogee. My team and I are dedicated to helping colleges and universities solve their most pressing networking and IT challenges in partnership with Apogee through the delivery of core wired and wireless infrastructure, network access control (NAC), and next-generation security firewall with VPN access. My team helps craft the right solution for campus CIOs in a predictable funding model, with comprehensive support, and the ability to expand via a diverse menu of secondary services.

As a veteran myself, I was eager to create a strong veteran community at Apogee and approached our ever-supportive VP of Human Resources Keesha Galindo to help get the project going. The Apogee veteran community has over twenty members from five of the six branches of the U.S. Armed Forces and includes civilian contractors that served overseas in support of our missions in Iraq and Afghanistan. Apogee veterans can be found in technical roles, working in the field to support our clients’ ResNet and Managed Campus networks, and in leadership roles running our Network Operations Center and Technical Services team. Our CFO, Mark Holt, is also a veteran. To honor them, Keesha and I worked together to host the First Annual Apogee Veterans Workshop and Retreat at our headquarters in Austin, TX last week on Veterans Day, November 11, 2021.

We wanted it to be an opportunity for our veterans to invest in their personal and professional goals and build community in a meaningful way. While professional development workshops are always beneficial to our team, this retreat focused on connecting the shared experiences of Apogee veterans to the skills they use in the workplace and in their endeavors to serve higher education. We also ensured that our veterans were aware of all the resources available to them, and we shared our stories of how to navigate through them and take advantage of them.

This veterans’ retreat was the first in-person employee gathering after nearly two years of virtual-only contact due to the pandemic. On Day 1, Apogee offered skills workshops, two panel discussions with Apogee executives, and a formidable keynote speaker.

For the keynote address, Apogee welcomed Jason Kuhn, a former Navy Seal with a Master’s in Global Leadership and a passion for building team chemistry. He pitched for a top-25 Nationally Ranked NCAA baseball team prior to joining the Navy following the attacks on 9/11. Shortly after joining his SEAL team, a helicopter crash placed him in an early position of leadership. He learned on the job, leading and successfully ensuring the mission was accomplished throughout multiple combat deployments. Jason provides skills his clients can immediately apply to both their personal and professional lives through keynotes, consulting, and sustained training programs through his “Fundamentals of Winning” Curriculum.

His focus for the Apogee Veteran’s Workshop was on helping veterans navigate the complex path to apply the skills and mindset gained from military service to the workplace. He starts by discussing confidence and the need to create sources of confidence from their past experiences to overcome anxieties as they transition to civilian life. Jason incorporated real-world combat experiences with his innate gift as a storyteller to enforce concepts that create mental toughness by embracing the value of adversity and shifting focus into process and people. From his experience witnessing the actions of teammates in a helicopter crash, Jason talked about how a team-first mindset directly increases individual performance in competitive environments. We came away from his talk both motivated to be supportive teammates within Apogee and with our customers. The call to action for our group was clear: commit to relying on each other and align our resources and skills to serve in civilian life.

On Day 2, we spent the day working with Habitat for Humanity on a build-project in Austin. For many veterans, it’s at our core to do things for others. The pandemic has been isolating at times and often requires long days at the computer. The opportunity to serve a family in need while working outside was rewarding and refreshing and has resulted in deeper bonds and understanding across our various departments and positions.

I’m looking forward to Apogee continuing the Annual Apogee Veterans Workshop and Retreat as we grow our veterans’ group and company culture. Apogee is a company that truly puts its people first, and this event is a great example of why it’s such a great place to work. I encourage any veterans who are looking to make a difference to look through our many employment opportunities. At Apogee, we say that higher ed is our higher purpose. I invite you to join our team to serve our clients and over 1 million students who rely on Apogee managed technology services to thrive academically and emotionally.

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