General Dynamics G4 Systems | A Perfect Fit |
Published in the January/February 2011 issue of print Search & Employ® |
Nolen Bivens, a retired Army brigadier general and vice president of General Dynamics C4 Systems, Washington Operations, has some advice for servicemembers seeking civilian careers. “Think about your time in the military as an investment,” said Bivens, who assumed his current role in October 2008. He oversees company strategy, customer relations and new business development. “Some of the return on that investment is the leadership skills servicemembers naturally acquire. Those skills are invaluable.”
In a U.S. Army uniform for more than three decades, Bivens’ last assignment before joining General Dynamics was Chief of Staff, U.S. Southern Command in Miami, where he led the joint military and interagency combatant command staff, and managed a $1 billion international security cooperation program.
With a focus on the military and technology, the company looks to veterans to help with its mission. “Everybody knows that veterans make great employees because they are skilled and like to work hard. But servicemembers are also well known for having a great service ethic and giving back to their communities,” Bivens noted. “We recognize that they still want to make a difference and continue to give back to the community even after they leave the military. We support that and encourage it.”
Bivens is part of American Corporate Partners (ACP), a mentorship program that connects him with veterans looking to transfer into the civilian workforce.
Bivens urges servicemembers leaving the military not to wait to start their mission to find a new career. “Don’t wake up the morning of your retirement ceremony and start you career search,” he said. “Get started at least six months out. Ask yourself where you want to live, what you want to do, and how much money you want to make. If you can answer those three questions with some sort of balance you’ll be in good shape to start a targeted search.”
“Don’t get hung up on a title,” he said. “Go to websites and find where you match. Then begin to network. Find someone who has time in an industry you are targeting and start a conversation with them. I’ve found that 99.9 percent of veterans want to help other veterans find employment.”
He also said that the defense industry will be a place for many servicemembers to start their next careers. “The fit here is great because you can continue to serve your country and do work that in many cases you are already an expert,” he said.