Armed forces: Mentoring program matches veterans with private-sector bigwigs

The third Saturday of May is armed Forces day, a Day to honor Americans serving in the military. There are thousands of veterans ‘ organizations who help those who have served every day.

American Corporate ners (ACP), a non-profit organization in New York City, is the only group that matches veterans with mentors from large companies in the country.

“Many of the people with whom we work have never been in the private sector. She never had a cv that was written for a private person,” said Sid Goodfriend, chairman and founder of the American express Corporate ners.


Goodfriend began the ACP states in 2008. After working as a banker for many large AMERICAN companies for 25 years, he wanted to move on to something more meaningful. He was looking to give something back to the country.

Goodfriend approached many managers he had worked in the past. The first person he approached was the chairman of PepsiCo, Indra Nooyi.

“I told her that I wanted to start a program a little as Big Brothers Big Sisters [of America], except that in this case the little brother could be the 250-pound Marine sergeant,” he said. “It is very difficult to find a job that leads to a meaningful career. A large part of what we do is we help people discover the careers and then we help them there.”

When the organization first launched, six companies committed to Goodfriend idea.

Today, up to 70 companies working with the ACP countries, including Deloitte, VISA, UPS and Liberty Mutual. Fox News Channel’s parent company, 21st Century Fox, also takes part.

“Karl Rove is a supporter of us, but so has David Axelrod,” said Goodfriend. “We have good results of the companies which in normal cases is not in the same room with each other.”


Now, nearly 2,700 veterans to be assisted by someone in the corporate world by ACP. More than 9,700 have completed the program.

Most of the ACP funding comes from their business partners. The cost of mentoring a veteran is $1,000 per year. icipants apply online and ACP staff goes out to anyone who asks. Most of the mentorships are done in the virtual world.

“As long as they have served since 9/11 and we believe that they are grateful that they have the time of their mentor, we have to everybody,” said Goodfriend, who never earned a salary as president of the organization.

He estimates that the participants have an average of $70,000 per year to start.

ACP protégé, Jamilla Smith, who served in Iraq and Afghanistan as a member of the U. S. Army Reserve, has worked as a recruiter for Bloomberg in Manhattan.

“One of the first things I learned is how to navigate in the business landscape and how to communicate with my colleagues in a professional, technical manner,” says Smith.

Her mentor is Rose Lanard, chief diversity officer at S&P Global. She says mentoring is a big part of her culture. Its corporate social responsibility team approached her ACP.

“I jumped right in. I knew that it would be a big victory,” said Lanard.

Lanard’s commitment to veterans is personal. Her father served in the U.S. Marine Corps during the Korean War and its cousins served in Vietnam.

“I think I would much more fear in terms of how to communicate with the professionals in corporate America and how to have those difficult conversations, how to make decisions, how to garner different possibilities,” said Smith, who is a member of the international monetary fund earlier this year.

Smith, who was raised in New York City, says that her military background prepared her for the demands of business.

“The largest I can think of is attention to detail. That is something big in the area of recruiting,” said Smith.

Lanard said working with Smith is a two-way experience.

“Jamilla is remarkably open, open to feedback, creative, thoughtful and dynamic,” Lanard said. “I look forward to our conversations.”

The couple expect their cooperation goes beyond the conclusion of their one-year commitment.

“We both ready to go. I think that is a very important characteristic of a good cooperation as well,” she said.

Smith wants to work up the ranks in her career, either in management or a role in corporate diversity.

Patrick Manning is a part of the Junior Reporter program at Fox News.

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