It has been a whirlwind month of my fellowship with the GSF, starting with the SOFIC pre-game, AKA, the Annual GSF Tampa Reception. It was great to witness the level of team work and execution that is the hallmark of TEAM-GSF. I won’t bore you with the details of the extensive planning involved in making sure an event is executed in a world-class manner. I will however dazzle you with details of the event that will either re-kindle your memories of the reception and subsequent SOFIC week or, if you didn’t attend, make you add the 2019 GSF Reception to your calendar immediately!
After helping set up Cruise Terminal 2 at Port Tampa Bay for the 4th Annual Global SOF Foundation Reception it was time to participate in Speed Networking. During this event I was able to meet with eight different people for 6 minutes – one of which was a CEO and founder of a successful NCR-based SDVOB with a 10-year success story! I really enjoyed getting his perspective on federal contracting, business development and entrepreneurship. All of the participants I met were interesting and were excited to be exploring and/or expanding business opportunities with the federal government. It was a great network building event which let to additional meaningful conversations that took place in the following weeks.
Immediately following Speed networking, I was interviewed for two GSF promotional videos. In the first promo-spot I am discussing Speed Networking and Partner Appreciation, and in the second promo-spot I speak about the benefits of the GSF to transitioning military members. Check me out!
The morning following the reception was the main-event! This was to be my 7th and last SOFIC in uniform. I have enjoyed each of the them but this year the “flavor” was different for me in that I was now a fellow at GSF and am on the cusp of entering the defense industry as a civilian. My eyes and ears were wide open and ready to receive!
As I “mature” it is great to see old Shipmates with new Birds on their collars. It is even better to run into successfully transitioned old Shipmates. One in particular I ran into was Chris Sacco. Chris and I were commissioned together as part of the old ADM Borda “Seaman to Admiral” program and went to grad school together as well. I was able to spend some time with Chris and hear of his success as the President and CEO of ABSI Defense, (www.absidefense.com). He took his passion for unmanned aviation, program management, and training and brought them together to create and run a successful company. He set the bar high for our fellow OCS Honor Class 15-96 Brethren!
Additionally, I was given the task of doing a drive by of 50 SOFIC vendors at their display tables and discussing the Global SOF Foundation, its vision & goals, where it operates, and where there may be mutual benefit and future growth opportunities between GSF and the vendor. I really enjoyed this challenge! It was an outstanding experience and one that I grew from professionally. My step counter had me at about 7 miles per day!
You really can’t appreciate SOFIC without attending the social events in the evenings, which I enjoyed not only for meeting new people but also, for interacting with the GSF team in a social setting. The weeks following SOFIC were full of follow-ups which included standard thank-you e-mails but also, follow-up phone calls and additional introductions. Overall, I really enjoyed my new “place” in SOFIC. I am very thankful to Stu for this opportunity to “show my wares” and engage with industry. This is another very clear and distinct advantage of participating in the DoD SkillBridge program.
Memorial Day weekend followed SOFIC which gave me three “work days” to do the final preparation for my retirement ceremony that took place on 1 June. It was great to have so many out-of-town family and 150 friends join me at the Surf’s Edge Club on MacDill AFB. My Brothers and Sisters in the Logistics Directorate (J4) at Special Operations Command Central (SOCCENT) ensured the event was meticulously executed and full of Naval heritage and history. Among many very thoughtful gifts, President Trump sent me a letter of recognition which for me was the highlight of the event.
I was also fortunate to have an old friend, Ivan Roney, the CEO of Farfield Systems, Inc. present at the ceremony. I think you will enjoy the picture showing how many years we have known each other and how kind those years have been.
June is always a busy time for my family with two birthdays, my anniversary, Father’s Day, the end of school, and the beginning of summer vacation for the children. I am thankful that I was able to take some leave to travel, vacation, and “recover” from the previous weeks events.
As I write this GSF is in full planning mode for the inaugural Modern Warfare Symposium and Expo at Fort Bragg, NC on 21-23 August. Additionally, as GSF looks east to Orlando I am looking forward to some day trips to central Florida to meet more defense industry companies & GSF Corporate Partners and learning about the growing simulation sector as well. The below article and websites discussing Orlando and its expanding simulation efforts are interesting and clearly show opportunity for transitioning veterans and corporations as well:
Looking forward to these many upcoming opportunities and more in my last month of GSF fellowship!