James "Sonny" R., Senior Coordinator — Fort Dodge, IA
How has Nestlé Purina provided you support and/or honored your Military service to our country?
Nestlé Purina honors those who have served, particularly every November during our annual Veteran’s Day celebration. We receive a gift card to a local restaurant to celebrate with loved ones. We have also created and sent banners to active service members to show our support.
In what capacity have you or do you serve in the Military? What is your Military status?
I was in the 312th Military Intelligence Battalion, 1st Cavalry Division Fort Hood for seven years. A running joke I share is that "I cannot tell you what I did because it is a matter of National Security."
What was most important to you in pursuing a civilian career as you began to transition out of the Military?
I looked for a position that allowed me to utilize my leadership experience and training. It was also important that the company I worked for allowed me to have time off to spend with my family and good benefits to care for them.
What resources did you use to help transition from the Military to civilian life?
Transition assistance was provided—like training to be able to adapt and overcome adversity, asking for help on things I was not knowledgeable about, and to also assist others when they are in need of help.
What advice would you pass along to someone preparing to make the transition out of the Military?
Start planning while you’re still enlisted! What are you going to do post-transition? Where do you want to live? Pre-planning will make you successful. There are not as many resources on the civilian side.
Tell us about your first experiences with Nestlé Purina—what was your first impression?
I started as an hourly associate on the night shift. It was difficult to get used to at first. I had to put myself on a schedule—it became much easier as long as I stuck to the times I set for myself. Aside from the hours, I really enjoyed the work I was doing day-to-day and the environment, including my co-workers. I knew there were advancement opportunities, so it was worth the adjustment.
How has Nestlé Purina helped you to grow your skills and your career thus far?
I started as an hourly associate and moved up to a Coordinator, now Senior Coordinator role. The company has invested in developing my career and development. One thing that stands out to me is the training and skills I’ve developed in technology.
Have you had the chance to get involved in any activities, groups, or programs through Nestlé Purina or outside of work?
Yes. I was an active wrestler for the Army for three seasons during my time in the service and placed 3rd at the military championship. When I returned home, I was afforded the free time to start coaching middle school wrestling and did so for 27 years. I also volunteer for the local community Shellabation—an organization that bring bands like ZZ Top, Huey Lewis & the News, and Journey to the Fort Dodge area.
What is the best mentoring experience you’ve had at Nestlé Purina thus far?
The best mentoring experiences have been working with maintenance team leads. They are able to explain the “why’ and “how” to perform tasks safely because of their in-depth knowledge of how the equipment functions.
How do you feel the skills you developed and used within the Military have transferred to your corporate job?
In the military, I was responsible for providing situation reports and recommending the best course of action for our forces to the Division Commanders, Generals, and Lieutenant Colonels. I am not a shy person, nor afraid to speak up. I think the military provided me a “knack” for being able to speak and coach a wide variety of personalities.
In what ways has your experience with Nestlé Purina similar to your experience within the Military?
Something that overlaps significantly is training and leadership. I'm responsible for conducting safety training in accordance with corporate and local regulations. In addition to tracking and ensuring all associates are up to date with training, I believe my actions and leadership can influence them to consider safety during routine and non-routine activities.