Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Industry Spotlight: Veterans at Work in Food & Beverage

The Food & Beverage industry is one that encompasses everything from logistics to manufacturing to marketing to finance to R&D. According to a KPMG 2012 Industry Outlook Survey, executives in the industry indicate that they are more focused on talent management/retention initiatives compared to last year’s survey results, with an increased emphasis on compensation and training. And more than half of the executives surveyed stated that revenue is up and that they believe their companies will increase the number of US employees in the next year. The many career paths available to job seekers make for widely ranging recruiting needs that encompass varied skill sets. This, coupled with expected growth both in revenue and hiring, makes veterans an excellent choice for Food & Beverage hiring managers.

Fortune 500 companies like Hershey, Kraft Foods, and ConAgra Food subsidiary, Lamb Weston, as well as Nestle Waters, part of Nestle, which was named one of the world's top ten most reputable companies this year, are proving this to be true with hiring initiatives aimed directly at veterans. These military-friendly companies are committed to hiring veterans throughout their ranks and are offering them excellent leadership development, benefits, and incentives.

One of the reasons these companies are turning to veterans is revealed in the KPMG survey. Lack of a qualified workforce went from being the eighth top barrier to growth in 2011 to sixth in 2012. As in so many other industries, food & beverage companies are not only finding skilled employees in veterans but also an innovative answer to their labor shortage.

Positions in this industry are widely varied thanks to the many different functions it takes to research, create, move, and sell food & beverage. Two popular career paths in which veterans excel are Production Supervisor and Maintenance Technician. While it may not be immediately apparent how military jobs translate to these positions, military occupations like a Public Works Operations Officer,  Maintenance and Production Chief, Infrastructure Systems Superintendent, and Maintenance Management Specialist are just a few that cross-over well.

Former Marine Corps Ground Supply Officer Jordan Odegaard is an Orion alumnus who began a new career as a Production Supervisor with Hershey earlier this year. Odegaard served as an Officer-in-Charge of a section and dealt with a variety of personnel issues that he now faces in his civilian position. “In both my current civilian position and previous military position, I must be flexible with my hours, care about the people I supervise, work closely with peers, constantly learn new things, make monetary decisions, model professional behavior, adhere to standards, hold employees accountable, exercise problem solving skills, analyze cost-benefit scenarios, handle HR issues (harassment, absences), etc. ,” he explains, “Ultimately, it comes down to adhering to set standards, and holding others to those standards.”

Another Orion alumnus in this industry is Joshua Hart. He says that his military career as a Gunner´s Mate in the Navy polished his punctuality, ability to work under high stress conditions, and leadership, making them as flawless as possible in preparation for his career as a Mechatronics Technician. “The most rewarding thing about the career I am starting is the combination of school and OJT experience I receive. Hershey´s is a giant family. It´s just like in the military where you work together to get the job done,” Hart says.

Whether it’s chocolate, macaroni & cheese, or bottled water, globally recognized companies are finding talented employees in veterans. Want to read more about a day in the life of a veteran in the industry? Check out this GI Jobs article about Syrhan Biray and his career at Hershey.

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