Brandman adjunct understands the challenge of making a successful transition into civilian life
William (Bill) Hess knew from an early age that he wanted to be a Marine. What he didn’t know when he enlisted with parental consent at age 17 was that being a Marine would also give him unexpected career options. He found that out when he retired from the Corps 22 years later.
Hess is a Brandman University adjunct faculty member in the School of Business and Professional Studies and uses his practical knowledge about logistics and his education in leadership to teach courses on operations and innovation to MBA students and the principles of management to undergraduates.
“I served in logistics my entire career,” said Hess. That included two tours of duty in Iraq and one in Afghanistan. He was also the first person from the military packaging community attached to the Pentagon. Although his exact title and responsibilities varied over the years, his job was to make sure the right materials got “to the intended party on time, without disruption or damage, in a difficult environment.”
On his last deployment in Afghanistan, that meant returning all U.S. property back to the states, regardless of its condition. “As you can imagine, you don’t go to the Home Depot to get what you want when it comes to fabricating containers,” said Hess, who got his start in the Marines as a packaging specialist because he liked working with wood. He eventually rose to the rank of master sergeant with responsibilities as an operations chief.
In Afghanistan, that put him in charge of a 17-person team. His group’s 400 percent increase in production over a previous team came about because they eliminated waste and excess movement, he said.
If that sounds stressful, so was trying to figure out what to do as his career as a Marine was ending.
“I was very, very stressed out that last year,” said Hess, who made it his mission to learn everything he could about retirement. “I went to every retirement seminar I could go. I wanted to learn everything I could about making a successful transition.”
In the end, he discovered that finding a way not to be stressed about it was the best solution. “People can see the stress and when they do, you look desperate,” he said. He also took advice from his Brandman mentor, Dr. Helen Eckmann, and networked every chance he could, eventually landing a position with Delta Global Services, a division of Delta Air Lines. He is currently in Florida training to become a station manager.
Hess plans to continue his work as a Brandman adjunct, which began while he was still in the Marines. Like many at the university, he finds his military experience helps him relate to veteran students in particular.
“I think the support Brandman gives to veteran students is awesome. I may be biased but I would encourage anyone to go there,” he said.
One of the ways that Hess tries to guide his military and veteran students is to play a game he dubbed “no more military jargon.” Every time they say something in military jargon, they have to stand up and explain what that meant to the non-military in the class.
He worries that some of his veteran students don’t take their educational opportunities seriously enough. His advice: “Don’t rest on your laurels of being a veteran. Remember some people didn’t serve because they couldn’t. So be hungry. Use what you learned to help others as a veteran and in turn, that is going to help you.”
As for those just making the transition from military to civilian life, he adds, “There is life after the military. Just be persistent. Network. Every person you meet is that next opportunity.”
As he recently wrote Eckmann from his training in Florida, “I did want to thank you for the opportunity you gave me at Brandman. Without that experience, I am not certain that I would be in this position. The opportunity to teach as well as the concepts from the courses that I have been able to refine via teaching have made me a much better leader/manager. I just want you to know how grateful I am.”
We’re featuring stories about Brandman faculty, staff and students with ties to the military in honor of Veterans Month at Brandman University. If you have a story suggestion, email firstname.lastname@example.org with ideas and contact information.
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