In the summer of 2014, I was hired at Comcast as a Project Manager for Comcast Business Services. As a field grade officer (Major) and Senior C-17 Globemaster III pilot leaving active duty service in the United States Air Force, I had a strong record of leadership and management that stretched 12 years. While many companies could not get past the idea of hiring a pilot ("we do not have airplanes...why are you applying?" I heard more than once), the talent acquisition team at Comcast understood what someone with my experience could bring to the corporate world.
In October of that year, I swore into the Air National Guard, hoping to continue my service as a part time "citizen-Airman." Just a few weeks later, I was informed that I would be activated for nine months for initial and mission qualification training as a C-130J Super Hercules pilot. I had to inform my supervisors that, after just 100 days on the job, I would be leaving for an extended period of time. Being new to Comcast and to the Air National Guard, I was somewhat concerned how my supervisor, teammates, and others would take the news.
I soon discovered I had nothing to worry about. Emails and calls of support came in – not only from my immediate co-workers and Comcast Veteran’s Network members – but also from Dave Watson (EVP and Chief Operating Officer, Comcast), Melanie Penna (SVP of HR, Comcast), and Will Baas (VP, Talent Acquisition and US Navy Reserve Captain). The HR team worked closely with me as I prepared to hit pause on my civilian career and don the uniform once again.
The level of support I received from Comcast did not diminish when I walked out the door on January 2nd. The Veteran’s Network kept me engaged in their bi-weekly meetings, keeping me connected with their leadership and future plans. During my activation, Comcast provided me with a pay differential, making up the difference between my military base pay and my Comcast salary.
I returned to Comcast on September 21, 262 days after I left. At that point, I had been a Comcast employee for just over 13 months, eight of which I was away serving on active duty. My integration back into the company was seamless, allowing me to hit the ground running and continue where I had left off. More doors soon opened, and I stepped into a new role as Director of Military and Veteran Affairs, helping Brigadier General (Retired) Carol Eggert and her team expand Comcast NBCUniversal’s efforts in the military community.
Comcast NBCUniversal’s new Guard and Reserve benefits go a long way in helping me meet my training commitments as a "traditional" Air National Guard member. The annual allowance of 15 days of paid time off demonstrates the high level of understanding that Comcast NBCUniversal has about the modern day Reserve component. They understand that training and operational requirements often take Guard and Reservists beyond "one weekend a month, two weeks a year. " The added benefit of providing pay differential and continued benefits for three years to National Guard and Reserve members called to active duty supports our employees while they serve their community and nation and eases the transition as they move between their military commitments and their Comcast NBCUniversal career. Additionally, a dedicated HR concierge service allows Guard and Reserve employees to seamlessly transition between their civilian and military duties, whether it takes them out of the office for a week or a year. This not only supports current Guard and Reserve employees, it serve as a welcome to prospective employees who wear the uniform part time.
I’m proud to be part of a company that has done, is doing, and will continue to support those who serve in the National Guard and Reserves. I am also proud of the recognition Comcast NBCUniversal has received, such as the Military Times Best for Vets: Employers 2016 (#20) to being named one of 30 finalists for the 2016 Secretary of Defense Employer Support Freedom Award. We know the value that National Guard and Reserve employees bring to the table—we want more on our team!