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 Adams’ Diverse Military Background Leads to New Role at Northwestern Mutual

Ronald Adams - diversity leadership consultant for Milwaukee, WI-based Northwestern Mutual (NM), a nationwide financial and insurance services firm - credits having a diverse military career, plus the technical skills and leadership abilities he acquired and honed while serving, for his civilian career success.
“As a young man in the field artillery, I learned discipline and work ethic, the importance of communication, role clarity and teamwork, to name a few. I would enhance my skills along the way as a transportation officer, logistician, human resource officer, strategic planner, meeting facilitator, education and incentive manager, public affairs officer, equal employment opportunity officer and diversity officer,” says Adams, who joined the Wisconsin Army National Guard 24 years ago after serving four years in the U.S. Army during Operations Desert Shield and Desert Storm. He remains a National Guard reservist, serving now as the operations officer for the 257th Brigade Support Battalion in Beloit WI.
“These technical skills were critical in positioning me to get past the application process and in front of a hiring manager. But it was the real-world experience and demonstrated success that I believe set me apart,” shares the decorated veteran who also holds the rank of captain.
His experience and decision to transition from a military to civilian career led him last year to NM. After discussing the career switch with his wife, Adams put a plan in place. It included attending the African American Leadership Program (AALP) at Cardinal Stritch University in Milwaukee. The nine-month program - where he’s now a member of the leadership team and a facilitator - sharpened his leadership talent and expanded his network to include individuals that helped him discover NM.
The skills Adams gleaned from having served as the diversity officer for the National Guard were immediately recognized by the company. He was first hired as a diversity and inclusion consultant, and in less than a year was offered his current - and newly created - diversity leadership post.
“In this position my many years of leadership serve as credibility as I discuss leadership, diversity and inclusion with managing partners and their teams across the country,” notes Adams, who holds a Master of Arts in strategic communication and leadership from Seton Hall University in South Orange, NJ and Bachelor of Science in business management from University of Phoenix (AZ).
The member of the VFW and the American Legion further feels fellow military service members can achieve the same type of success he’s experienced inside and outside of the military. “If a service member understands, internalizes and masters the military’s core competencies, they can work and be successful just about anywhere,” Adams asserts.
The vice president of the board of directors for the Milwaukee Homeless Veteran’s Initiative (MHVI) and member of the advisory council and mentor for the Milwaukee Fellows program (MKE Fellows) further offers five points of advice that worked for him.
First, start early and allow yourself time in your job search. Second, soul search to determine your passion and develop a personal vision and mission statement. Third, utilize available, invaluable service-related resources.
Fourth, translate experience on your resume and to hiring managers so non-military members can understand your experience and technical skills and make connections between your service experience and the position. Fifth, network via civilian professional networking groups that align with your interest.
“Be confident in yourself and the value you can add to an organization. They are looking for people like you!” Adams adds.
View job opportunities with Northwestern Mutual at northwesternmutual.com/careers.
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