In Silicon Valley, where rapid expansion plans for businesses abound, companies are desperate to hire managers who can lead small teams, make quick decisions, adapt easily to change, and stay calm in the face of stressful situations.
It turns out there’s a group of people trained for those exact purposes: the soldiers and sailors in the US military’s special operations forces. Veterans of these elite units—which include the Navy SEALs and Army Rangers —are now being groomed for careers in tech fields in increasing numbers, and finding homes at companies ranging from small startups to the likes of Google and Facebook.
“The biggest scarcity in the Valley is great leaders,” said Don Faul, the chief operating officer of Athos, a wearable technology company, and a former platoon commander in a Force Reconnaissance company, the Marine’s version of SEALs. “The Valley has started to really discover what a valuable asset they can be and what a great fit they are.”
The skills needed to succeed in the special operations forces translate particularly well to Silicon Valley, said Faul, 39, who took part in the invasions of Iraq and Afghanistan before working at Google, Facebook, and Pinterest. “It’s very fast moving, it’s decentralized decision making with small teams, and you need to juggle a bunch of different skills.”