caret-down
Mark Clouse in the military

Applying Lessons Learned as a Helicopter Pilot and Army Captain to the Food Business

On Veterans Day, our CEO Mark Clouse, shared the following message on his LinkedIn page:

The greatest honor and privilege of my life—other than being a parent—was leading men and women in the military.

I started down that path by attending West Point, where I also had the opportunity to play for the Army basketball team. When commissioned to second lieutenant, I spent six-and-a-half years in the Army. I was a helicopter pilot and completed my service as an Army captain, flying and leading units stationed all around the country and an assignment in Korea.

The military was a great experience—where I met the absolute best people and received a great education. It’s also where I met my wife of 25 years, Kathy, while stationed in California.

In the military, I learned the importance of setting simple and clear direction, establishing priorities and roles for the team, and adjusting in the face of unexpected changes. I also learned the powerful role that culture plays in an organization and how a leader’s job is to inspire people versus simply directing them.

When I made the transition to the corporate world, I knew very little about business but had already spent many years learning how to lead people. Leadership is always the great differentiator in every occupation, and I’m grateful for the opportunity the military gave me to lead a diverse team in complex and high-stakes situations.

I share this to make two key points:

  1. Hiring veterans is one of the best things you can do for your business. The skills I’ve mentioned are just a few of the attributes that veterans can bring to a company.
  2. I can’t imagine a better purpose or cause than helping those who served our country find their path into the business world. The transition to civilian life can be difficult, and we can have a huge impact through mentorship and hiring initiatives.

Here at Campbell, we recently started working with Hirepurpose, an organization built by veterans that helps the veteran community find employment. This partnership will provide access to talented veterans at all levels of our organization.

We’re also beginning a partnership with American Corporate Partners, a nonprofit organization that helps vets succeed in the business world. Over 50 of our employees committed to mentor a veteran—just imagine the impact this experience could have for someone who is looking to transition to a new life after serving their country. The simple act of sharing your knowledge, expertise and time with a veteran can be mutually rewarding.

Another way we’re living out that culture of giving back at Campbell is through a special employee giving campaign in support of veterans this month. It’s part of our larger pledge of financial support to organizations that raise awareness, advance education and equity, promote social justice, and fight racism and discrimination.

As we honor veterans today and throughout the month of November, let’s also find ways to support and value the important role they play in our country after they serve.

I joined CNBC’s Jim Cramer on his “Salute to Service” program to talk more about the lessons I’ve learned in the military and how we’re supporting veterans.