Friday, November 21, 2014

Veteran Spotlight: Denise Greenfield

From sunny Tampa, FL, to chilly Northern Norway to the deserts of the Middle East, Denise Greenfield has served her country in a variety of places as a Marine Corps Signals Intelligence Officer. Denise also has a varied educational background, with a degree from Virginia Tech in International Studies, a Master’s Degree from the Naval Postgraduate School in Systems Engineering, and, most recently, a PhD in English Literature from the University of Southampton.

When it came time for Denise to transition out of the Marine Corps, she contacted Orion International and was happy to learn that they were holding their first Pittsburgh, PA, hiring conference (Denise’s preferred city) in a few months. At the conference, she interviewed with PNC. Soon after, she found herself at PNC headquarters, where she spent three hours interviewing with five different individuals. She was offered a job about a week later. “All in all, it was an exceptionally smooth process,” recalls Denise.

Denise is a Training Project Manager at PNC in the Leadership Institute and finds it very rewarding to have an impact on leadership development programs across the organization. She is part of a team that develops and improves the tools and resources that help leaders in the organization tap into the many ways they can enhance their skills, increase their knowledge, and, ultimately, shape their future.

“There is a very tactical element to the work I do on a daily basis, but there is also a strategic component in that we support the business needs and strategies of all segments of the bank through performance improvement and training intervention,” explains Denise, “As a member of the Leadership Institute, I get the benefit of interacting with all areas of the bank on major projects and initiatives that impact a single line of business or in many cases, multiple/major business segment(s) within that line of business. It is very rewarding to see how our relationship with corporate training partners ensures that an overarching strategy, philosophy and values are continually being met.”

Denise’s background in the Marine Corps prepared her more than she thought it would for her new career. “I am part of a high-performing team, just as I was throughout my Marine Corps career, and the skills I developed in the military allowed me to jump right into a new career and hit the ground running,” Denise says.  She goes on to tell us that the research and analytical skills she gained in the intelligence field have proven very useful, just as have more general, but extremely important, leadership skills.

Denise explains that PNC is a fantastic company that values its veteran employees: “It’s been really nice to be a part of an organization that recognizes talent, values diversity, promotes inclusivity, and understands the importance of having a good work-life balance.” Most recently, PNC won the Secretary of Defense Employer Support Freedom Award, the highest recognition given by the US Government to employers for their support of their employees who serve in the Guard and Reserves.

The bank also has a robust and very active Military Employee Business Resource Group (MEBRG) that works with deploying service members and their families. It also assists military members to successfully transition to the workforce by offering mentoring and onboarding services while encouraging employees to refer veterans for employment at PNC.

Denise is also enjoying working in a city where there is always a lot going on. “The building in which I work is close to the sporting venues so it’s easy to catch a hockey, baseball, and/or football game every once in a while!” she says.

We asked Denise what advice she has for hiring managers looking to recruit veterans. “I would (strongly) argue that military veterans possess a variety of valuable skills for which companies are actively searching: project management, leadership, complex problem solving, mission focus, accountability, discipline, teamwork, and performance in high-stress environments, to name but a few. These skills translate extremely well to fill the needs of corporate America,” contends Denise.

Thank you, Denise, for sharing your transition experience, describing your career, and giving such great advice! Congratulations on your career. We are excited to see yet another veteran carving out a great civilian career and influencing change at her company.

Want to know more about how you can utilize Orion’s services to recruit talented veterans, click here. And don’t forget to check out our other Veteran Spotlights for even more inspiration.

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Orion International Attends Children of Fallen Patriots Foundation Gala

Orion International attended the 6th Annual Greenwich Event College for their Children, a Salute to America’s Special Operations Forces Gala hosted by the Children of Fallen Patriots Foundation in Riverside, CT, on Saturday, November 15th.

The gala was hosted by Colonel (Ret) Jack Jacobs, Medal of Honor recipient, with a presentation of the Patriot Award by Fallen Patriots scholarship recipient Jacob Centeno Healy, who lost his father, Senior Chief SEAL Dan Healy, during Operation Red Wings in Afghanistan, which has since been told in the book and film Lone Survivor. Learn more about Jacob's story.

Jacob Centeno Healy, featured speaker and Children of Fallen Patriots Foundation scholarship recipient

The recipient of this year’s Patriot Award was Admiral William H. McRaven, Commander of the U.S. Special Operations Command. Admiral McRaven previously served from June 2008 to August 2011 as Commander, Joint Special Operations Command (JSOC), and from June 2006 to March 2008 as Commander, Special Operations Command Europe (SOCEUR). In addition to his duties as COMSOCEUR, he was designated as the first director of the NATO Special Operations Forces Coordination Centre (NSCC), where he was charged with enhancing the capabilities and inter-operability of all NATO Special Operations Forces.

Admiral William McRaven, recipient of the Patriot Award

The gala also featured dinner and a live auction, with $2,617,104 raised to help support fallen military members and their children through the Children of Fallen Patriots Foundation.

From left: Orion team members Jay Diller, Molly Moore, Kayla Burns, Children of Fallen Patriots Foundation scholarship recipient Jacob Centeno Healy, Children of Fallen Patriots Foundation Executive Director John Coogan, Orion team members Meredith Guenther, Todd Phillips

Due to all of the generous donations made in support of the Veteran Low to High Challenge and its Partner Veteran Organizations, Orion International proudly presented a check for $25,000 to the Children of Fallen Patriots Foundation during the gala.

Orion Account Executive Jay Diller (right), with Wes Greene, son of LTC David Greene, killed in action. Wes and his sister, Jenna, along with their mother shared a table with Orion team members during the gala. Wes and his sister are both currently enrolled in college due to the assistance of Children of Fallen Patriots Foundation, and have attended the annual gala for the past four years.

Orion International is proud to be able to give back to a foundation that makes a real difference in the lives of military families. If you would like to help others like Jacob, Wes, and Jenna, please donate here.

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Veteran Spotlight: Cris Philyaw

Hire a Hero recently sat down with Cris Philyaw, a former Navy Nuclear ELT, whom Orion matched with a career at a leading space transport company in 2012. Cris is still with the company and explains how his civilian career literally brought tears to his eyes.

Cris joined the Navy in November 1999 and left for boot camp on June 6, 2000, while still 17. In September 2012, he separated from the Navy. After learning about an exciting career opportunity with a company that designs, manufactures, and launches advanced rockets and spacecraft through his Orion recruiter in May 2012, he knew he wanted to work there.

Cris’ recruiter helped him to tweak his resume to reflect his extensive technical background, and he was given a phone interview. He followed that up with an on-site interview in July 2012. By the beginning of August, he was given an offer, which he ultimately accepted and started his new career on September 10, 2012.

Cris says that his transition to the civilian workplace was smoother than he expected.  “It helps that about 60% of our full-time employees where I work are veterans. With so many of us understanding where someone fresh out is coming from, there's support on every stand and in every group,” explains Cris,“We are family here, and we celebrate our successes as such and feel the pain of drawbacks and setbacks just like you do at home.” And Cris has found that his employer cares about their employees and their families. After having his first child this past June, he received flowers and gifts for his daughter from the CEO and President.

It’s not all flowers and gifts, as they do sometimes have to battle the elements, because, as Cris says, “You just can't test a rocket or one of its engines indoors!” But, at the end of the day, he explains, “You're working for a company that will put humans on Mars and is helping to revolutionize the commercial space industry.”

Now, for the tears: Cris and many other Orion alumni at the company describe the same sentiment: There's nothing more rewarding than seeing all of the hours, blood, and sweat spent on getting a rocket certified for flight come to fruition, as you watch that flight launch and make mission. “The first rocket I worked on was Flight 6, which was our first 1.1 flight; and I would be lying if I did not have tears of joy flowing down my face. Between the cheers and tears, you cannot beat the feeling of watching your hard work released in over 1 million pounds of thrust, rocketing towards the vastly untouched frontier of space,” recalls Cris.

The rocket and space industry is a very small industry with only a handful of companies with launch capabilities. Because of this, Cris says, it is very difficult to prepare yourself for the specific job tasks that will be required. However, he says his background in Nuclear Power played a major role in his success thus far.

“You have to be quick on your feet, have the ability to learn fast and on the job, and are responsible for the safe operation, repair, and maintenance of not only the test article but the stand and supporting equipment that allow us to test our rockets,” explains Cris, “You can teach anyone to turn a wrench, but you have to be able to think ahead and be ready for the next series of events, while taking in to account how the work you are performing or will be performing affects the rocket and the safety of those working on it.”

Cris is more than satisfied with his career choice. He has a challenging job, in a family oriented environment, working on equipment and hardware very few people get the opportunity or privilege to experience.  And Cris adds, “Aside from having great benefits, you get to see your hard work place a satellite in a geosynchronous orbit or supply the ISS with much needed provisions and experiments. You get to be a part of the reusable rocket development and on the leading edge of the return of human spaceflight to American soil. We take pride in our work and what we do, and we love our job. What more could you want?”

Click here to learn more about how you can recruit veterans like Cris for your company. 

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Veteran Spotlight: Bill Tillotson

Hire a Hero recently caught up with Bill Tillotson, an Orion alumnus who began his career with JBS as a Maintenance Technician in March 2014. After serving 20 years in the Navy, he retired from the military and worked with Orion to find his career with JBS. 

“I’m doing the same types of things here that I did in the Navy. They have Preventive Maintenance and Corrective Maintenance just like the Navy, and the cards have check points that tells us what to check on each piece of equipment we work on,” says Bill of his new career, “The only difference is that JBS allows ‘common sense,’ whereas the Navy walks you through each step of the process.”

“For the 20 years that I served, I worked on pumps, purifiers, and valves replacements. I also learned how to troubleshoot and make recommendations on repairs of the equipment I was responsible for. Being able to read blue prints and schematics from the Naval Technical Manuals also helped me in the civilian sector, as I now utilize this skill at JBS,” explains Bill.

Bill has come a long way since he joined the Navy with no mechanical knowledge. Since starting his career with JBS, Bill received a raise and is working on his second floor qualification. He is also taking Mechanical certification courses to get even more raises and better his chances of possibly moving up to Supervisor.

According to Bill, veterans fit the bill when it comes to the civilian sector's need for dedicated workers that are at their appointed place at the appointed time, have a great work ethic, and a military chain of command mentality. He says that veterans get the job done right the first time.

Bill wants civilian employers to understand that veterans are loyal, have a lot of integrity, and are never late. With the drawbacks in the military, Bill advises companies to take advantage of all the great people the military is losing: “If you’re looking for highly-skilled workers, hire a vet! We get the job done, no questions asked!”

Click here to learn more about Bill’s transition.

Monday, November 3, 2014

Veterans Day Spotlight Series

Over the past 23 years Orion has helped with the transition of more than 30,000 veterans. During this time, we've witnessed just how talented and hardworking these men and women are. So, in honor of Veterans Day on November 11, we present a month-long series of Veteran Spotlights illustrating how veterans are applying their "can-do" spirit in their civilian careers. Stay tuned for our first Spotlight. And thank you to America's service members at home and overseas for their selfless service!

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Interview with Orion President Mike Starich, Veteran Low to High Challenge Hike Participant

Earlier this month, a team of Orion employees, Veterans, Partners, and Corporate Sponsors hiked from the lowest point in Death Valley to the summit of Mount Whitney. The trek covered 120+ miles, with a 14,787 elevation change. Read the full week’s events of the hike here.

From the Battlefield to the Boardroom interviewed Mike Starich, President of Orion International and member of Team One from the Veteran Low to High Challenge hike, to get an insider’s view of the daunting, but otherwise inspiring week on the trails. Check out his responses below:

Why was that specific route (Death Valley → Mount Whitney) chosen?

“I was looking to have an event of note to draw attention to our charitable effort this year towards veterans. Another Centre portfolio company CEO had organized a trip to Kilimanjaro. That was a great idea, but I knew that for our first big effort, we would likely need to keep it domestic rather than international. Then last fall, an old idea emerged to me. Long ago, an old Marine Corps friend of mine and I had mused about trekking from the lowest point in the lower 48 states to the highest point as a means of testing ourselves. When I ran the idea by some Orion folks, most, if not all, were excited about the idea. So, the Low to High Challenge was born.”

Why did you decide personally to take on the challenge?

“I enjoy challenging myself and enjoy the outdoors. To me, this event was a good combination of those two, plus tying in our company and the charity event.”

How did you prepare for the hike?

“I did months of training - running, strength-training, long hikes with a pack, and hours of stair-climber work, since there are few hills near my home to train on. Then there was the equipment and ensuring that was all in order with that. Then, of course, there was all of the logistical prep that so many people helped with. In retrospect, post-trip, I needed to do more of an honest assessment of the challenges. Though I knew and we all knew it was going to be extremely challenging, the Low to High Challenge hike still was a notch or two above that.” 

What was the biggest challenge of the hike?

“Being on Team One, it was the climb up the north side of Mill Canyon at the dry waterfall. There were others, as well – the Day One ascent of Telescope Ridge; the 28 mile Death March through Panamint Valley; after the cliff rescue, the long climb out of Mill Canyon at night; the long hike and ascent up to Cerro Gordo; and finally the two days of ascent between Lone Pine and the summit of Mount Whitney. The Mount Whitney final ascent day was at least 6,100 feet of total elevation gain and 21.4 miles round trip, so it was extremely challenging as well mostly due to the issues associated with altitude.” View a full course map.

What did you find the most rewarding part of the hike?

“The summit of Mount Whitney and seeing the team make it after so much effort and overcoming so many obstacles along the way.”

What surprised you most about the hike?

“There were a bunch of lessons learned, here are some:
  • I should have done a physical recon ahead of time to assess the road conditions and also to assess the suspected difficult spots along the trek – there were many.
  • I should have set higher standards regarding the training, and emphasized the extreme difficulties more.
  • Communications: I should have emphasized cross-training more on the radios / satellite phones. A further issue for me as a leader was ensuring good communication between Team One and Team Two. It just was not up to standard, and caused some tough issues for Team Two to deal with that could have been avoided.
  • Each night prior, analyze the route for the most difficult spots; if there is even a small chance of requiring a rope, bring the rope. 
  • When in Death Valley, bring more water/electrolytes than you think you will need.
I am sure there are others, but those are the big ones.”

Would you complete this trek again (or something similar)?

“I would likely not do it again, but only because I have already done it. Will I continue with more trekking and climbing? Absolutely. This experience will inform the next adventures.”

“Overall, I view the trip as a significant achievement. In the end, it was highly demanding, treacherous, exhausting, and for me, humbling. Death Valley, the Panamint Mountains and Valley, the Inyo Mountains and Mount Whitney pounded us. It delivered more difficulties than I expected. Was it worth the effort? For me, it was. I personally observed people handling the extreme and often unexpected difficulties with matter-of-factness, humor and guts.  I am proud to have been a part of it.”

Congratulations to everyone who participated in the Veteran Low to High Challenge Hike! Your dedication and perseverance is a testimony to those military members who serve and have served our nation.

While the journey from Death Valley to Mount Whitney has ended, we continue in our efforts to raise $100K+ for Veterans in 2014 through the Veteran Low to High Challenge for our partner organizations. We will continue to accept donations through December 15, 2014. Donate to our Veterans.

We have held a 5K race in support of the Veteran Low to High Challenge in each of the cities in which we have an Orion office – Austin, TX; Cincinnati, OH; Raleigh, NC; and Virginia Beach, VA; with our final 5K in San Diego, CA on November 8th. The 5Ks have already raised $39,869.62 for our partner organizations, with over 700 runners participating!

Learn more about the Veteran Low to High Challenge at

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Success at the Help Our Heroes 5K Virginia Beach Office Race

Last month, the Virginia Beach office held the Help Our Heroes 5K for the Veteran Low to High Challenge! The office raised a total of $6,485 for our partner Veteran organizations, with 117 runners participating in the event.

The Virginia Beach office and the rest of the Orion team would like to thank everyone who made this event a success, especially to the sponsors New Balance, ECPI University, Hybrid Training Center, Wawa, Military Produce, Dog Tag Brewing, Greystone, Archer & Greiner P.C., and Greenwich Kitchen Center!

It is our goal to raise $100K+ for our partner Veteran Organizations through the Veteran Low to High Challenge and through 5K Run /Walk Races in each of the cities in which we have an Orion office – Austin, TX; Cincinnati, OH; Raleigh, NC; Virginia Beach, VA; and San Diego, CA.

The next 5K race to help support our Veteran non-profit organizations will be held on Saturday, November 8th in San Diego,CA.