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From Special Ops to Snacks: A Veteran’s Career Journey

By: Ben Richey
Fleet Sustainability Senior Manager

Aug 29, 2017

I proudly served in the U.S. military for ten years, having spent the first four in artillery and the remainder in special operations. After completing my service, I went to graduate school at the University of California, Berkeley’s Haas School of Business before entering the civilian workforce.

Following jobs at several major corporations, I applied for a position at PepsiCo where I work today as Fleet Sustainability Engineer Manager for the company’s Center of Excellence. Transitioning from the military to a civilian profession has had its challenges, but the leadership skills developed in the service have proven to be invaluable in working at Frito-Lay, a division of PepsiCo.

One of the things that really attracted me to Frito-Lay and PepsiCo is the fact that senior leadership really cares about their people in general and service members in particular. The actions they take and the decisions they make show me they put associates first.

It’s extremely gratifying to find that Frito-Lay values the leadership training we received in the military, so highly.  In special operations, many of the principles we were taught apply directly to the work we do here. As leaders, we start by understanding the objective, communicating it to our team, setting reasonable goals, and finally bringing the entire team along to achieve success.

Another aspect of Frito-Lay and PepsiCo that is important to veterans is the support we receive through internal organizations such as Valor. Valor is a veteran-focused employee resource group designed to help service members transition to their civilian jobs. One way they do this is through a mentor program that matches up newly hired veterans with established veteran associates who help guide and coach them. I’m really passionate about this program because I think it’s great being able to talk to other veterans who have gone through similar experiences to mine as they moved into corporate America. 

I’m particularly proud of having participated in Valor events, such as Rolling Remembrance, which was a 7,000-mile relay that involved 38 veteran truck drivers. These drivers carried an American flag that was originally used by U.S. troops in Afghanistan during Operation Enduring Freedom. In addition to honoring Memorial Day and highlighting the contributions of our nations service members, Rolling Remembrance raised money for the Children of Fallen Patriot’s Foundation, which supports the educational needs of children of fallen service members.

As a veteran, I have to admit it’s a great feeling knowing your employer appreciates not only your time and service to the nation, but also recognizes the skill sets and abilities you bring to the table that are unique.  The leadership here truly values veterans and that means a lot to me and my fellow veteran associates. 


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