Karen Ross, CEO of Sharp Decisions, keeps challenging the status quo. A female founder of a 20-year-old technology company, she is now convincing U.S. companies to utilize veterans—newly trained on Sharp Decisions’ nickel—for IT work that would normally be done overseas.
Tired of reading about the high unemployment rate among veterans, Karen decided to do something constructive. She launched the V.E.T.S. Program with the goal of training and employing 200 post-9/11 vets by the end of 2014. Once hired, these veterans participate in an intensive four-week training program and are then deployed in teams of three or more to her clients. These full-time Sharp Decision employees are salaried and make $30-60,000 depending upon their background.
Karen lost many clients and friends on Sept. 11, 2001. After watching young servicemen and women take up the call to action in Iraq and Afghanistan, she decided to do her part. What she has found is an ideal employee. “There is no “I,” only “we” in their language,” said Karen. “They cross train, not because anyone told them to, but because they instinctively know the value in covering for others,” she adds.
More than 20 veterans have received training with the V.E.T.S. Program since its inception in March. Veteran placements target major corporations making the conscious decision to employ a U.S. vet rather than offshoring the work. If there is a slight delay in employment following the training program, Sharp Decisions continues the learning process in one of their several offices around the country and the world. “I tell them that I will commit to them if they commit to me,” says Karen.
Alex Weis was part of the first cycle and he is now working at EmblemHealth. A U.S. Marine veteran with bachelor and masters degrees in accounting, he had difficulty landing a job in 2012. After working with a career coach provided by Veterans Affairs, Alex broadened his search to include big and small companies and began searching for jobs aimed at veterans. His change in tactics produced a job posting on Indeed for the V.E.T.S. Program. After submitting his resume, Alex was accepted a month later. Reflecting on the training program, Alex says, “It means a lot when you have a CEO who is not only committed, but directly involved.” Now when he hears from Marine recruiters looking to place recently discharged soldiers in the civilian workforce, he tells them about the program at Sharp Decisions.
For those interested, send your resume to Kim Gillus at Kgillus@sharpdecisions.com.
AnnMarie Quintaglie McIlwain is a former marketing executive with Procter & Gamble and Johnson & Johnson and consultant to several Fortune 100 companies. Now, as Founder and CEO of CareerFuel.net, she is a social entrepreneur who connects people with the information and inspiration they need in order to get jobs and start businesses. CareerFuel is the only site that gives people what they need to know to find jobs or start businesses plus blogs and short films about real people who made it happen.
A recipient of numerous civic and leadership awards, AnnMarie is a Board member of CFIRA.org, was a participant in the first White House Entrepreneurial Session, the recent WeOwnIt Summit, and the first Alley to the Valley Event. She is also a member of 85Broads and Startup America.
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