Biotech Serving Veterans: Transitioning from the Military to the Life Sciences Industry

May 18, 2018

By Edie Stringfellow






Photo courtesy: 

My grandfather was a Korean War veteran who fought for the principles and values for the U.S. up and down the Korean peninsula.  My father was a Vietnam War veteran who honorably served his country and fought side by side with some of America’s finest heroes in hostile. I am the relative and friend of several active duty service members.  Without any hesitation, like countless others, they answered ‘the call’.  I honor them by my commitment to advocate for transiting Veterans.

Saturday, May 19, 2018 is Armed Forces Day to honor and acknowledge Americans in the Armed Forces.  As part of MassBio’s Diversity and Inclusion initiative, we have made a priority to encourage the life sciences industry to develop best practices for recruiting, retaining and promoting Veterans in the civilian workplace. We also aim to educate biotech decision makers on the contributions that veterans can offer any company.  Some organizations view hiring Veterans through the lens of ‘the right thing to do’.  It is time to change that mindset. 

Military service fosters creativity, adaptability, teamwork, and discipline to accomplish goals. Being in the military requires continuous education to stay abreast of multifaceted, ever-changing domestic and international matters.  Even though many veterans are familiar with cutting-edge technology and may have valuable security clearances, their leadership and adaptability skills are their greatest attributes. 

Here are some solid reasons to hire our Heroes for the biotech community:

  • Leadership
    According to General James F. Amos (Retired), former Commandant of the United States Marine Corps, ‘we develop Marines into leaders by constantly exposing them to training situations that require sound decisions with limited time, resources or information. Marines train to use their judgment, decisiveness and knowledge to respond quickly and appropriately because the worst decision a Marine can make in the midst of an operation is no decision at all.’  Skills like motivation and delegation are taken very seriously and are given the time needed to develop so that these skills can be used effectively in the most time-sensitive and harshest environments imaginable. They are the best at inspiring and sustaining morale without driving people into the ground.
  • Adaptability
    Vets are trained to keep a watchful eye on the big picture, while keeping an immaculate sense of detail. This is not easy to do, and this skillset is extremely rare.  Because of their experiences, they may see things differently and this will bring a fresh, innovative and creative perceptive to problem solving.  They have accomplished objectives even when experiencing shortages on manpower, budget and resources.  They will find innovative and creative ways to do ‘better’ with less.
  • Comfortable with Diversity
    Service members have mastered the fine art of successful interaction to complete tasks.  Being in the armed forces requires working with a variety of ethnicities, personalities and age groups, from high-ranking officers to unit commanders, teammates and subordinates to get the job done.  A huge portion of them have worked overseas so they have the skills to adjust to different cultures and surroundings.  As we become more global, this ability to work effectively with others who may look, think and act differently is an obvious asset in Biotech.
  • Work Ethic
    Military personnel are committed to achieving results under extreme pressures.  Due to their core value of “service before self” and code of ethics, they are dedicated, reliable and dependable. They take ownership of their work product and are prepared for anything because they have trained for a wide-range of circumstances. Veterans feel a strong sense of responsibility to their team which builds trust and loyalty which are essential for collaboration. 

We should not judge people for where they acquired their skills but for their skills and values that they bring to the table.  I would like to know what your company is doing to engage this highly-skilled talent pool and how this factors into your growth strategy.  Share your story with us.

Edie Stringfellow is MassBio's Director of Diversity & Inclusion. Learn more about her here

See all MassBio News