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In praise of IBM’s efforts to support its military veteran employees

Disclosure: IBM is a client of the author.

This week in the U.S., we recognize military veterans, people who risk their lives for us but are often forgotten once they leave the service. Veterans are a unique resource that often represent deeper loyalty, greater goal orientation, stronger teams, and fewer political problems than other groups of workers.

IBM generally sets the bar when it comes to advancing the careers of women, minorities, and veterans, so I’d like to focus this week on it as an example of best practices other companies could adopt.

IBM’s focus on veterans

IBM’s efforts to care of veterans goes back decades, to Thomas Watson Jr. (who is like Bill Gates at Microsoft in terms of his impact on the company). Watson, prior to becoming CEO, was an Army pilot in World War II and recognized the value of veterans at IBM. He also showcased an early understanding that military officers can make great executives and proved the point with his own storied tenure. With that background, I talked with Jason Kelley, the general manager of IBM’s strategic blockchain effort who is ex-Army and co-chair of the Veteran Executive Council.  

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