Navy veteran Amanda Frommer now works as a regional human resources operations manager at Kerry, a global taste and nutrition company. In the Navy, she was a navigator on a ship. After the military, she used her skills to steer herself into a successful career. Her military experience has helped her find a completely different yet fulfilling career in HR.
Tell us about your military service and experience.
A lot of my family had served in the Navy. I liked traveling and thought the military was a great way to travel the world. I served active duty in the Navy from 1998 to 2002 on the USS Oak Hill. We went on two deployments to the Mediterranean and to the Persian Gulf, one before and another one after 9/11. I worked as a quartermaster, which is a navigator who works with charts, stands watch on the bridge, and also tracks the weather.
Why did you decide to get out of the Navy, and what was your next step as a civilian?
I had completed a year in college but had no idea what I wanted to do. When I got out, I took a job at a bank and started school right away. Originally, I liked psychology, which turned into human resources. I did have a hard time transitioning from the military to civilian life, so shortly after I got out, I went active reserves.
I used the GI Bill for college. I also used the Illinois benefit that let me go to a state-funded school tuition-free because I lived there before and after service. After finishing general courses at community college, I went to Judson University in Elgin. They had accelerated adult classes and I got my BA in HR Management and MA in Organizational Leadership degrees through them. Soon after that, I went through Southern Illinois University for my MBA.
What was unique about your job searches after the Navy? Did you use veteran resources?
While I was working on my first degree, I continued to work at the bank and was promoted to a Branch Manager within two years. It was difficult to step down and take an HR entry-level job from there.
I decided to leave my job and be a stay-at-home mom for six months, during this time I started my MBA and taught classes at a local community college. An opportunity came up UTC Aerospace Systems to be an intern in the HR department. That’s what finally allowed me to enter the HR world, as I was hired six months later. I then took a global senior HR manager role at Regal Beloit, and after that ended up here at Kerry.
I never took advantage of those military job search resources. I should have used them sooner. If I had, I might have gotten into HR earlier. Still, I wouldn’t necessarily change anything in the way my past played out.
What advice do you have for other veterans considering a career in human resources?
The experience you had in the military can relate to HR. All of your experience is relatable, so capitalize on your experiences and translate them into HR. For me, even being a branch manager at a bank, I was able to translate that into relevant HR experience.
I think in general, veterans are well prepared for HR. When you’re dealing with employer relation issues or having hard conversations, you can utilize your military training. My military service taught me how to remain calm and steady and not get highly emotional. I can keep my cool under stressful circumstances. Dealing with employee relations can get very emotional, but I need to help people around me stay calm. I have only recently realized this benefit of prior military service in regards to my HR skillset!
What do you like about working at Kerry?
Kerry is in the food and nutrition industry, creating tastes and flavors. I typically come from a more mechanical industry background. Kerry has a fun culture and lets us taste-test products. It’s an inclusive environment with a push to hire veterans.
Because you work in human resources, what value do you see in veterans who are job applicants?
When I’m recruiting, I certainly see the value in the resume of a veteran. Veterans bring high energy, are collaborative, and empower others. I think a veteran should highlight their military experience and leadership. I knew I had a lot to offer, and it wasn’t just the college degrees. It was in my experience and my ability to work with others. Most people, including employers, will see that as a positive.
Veterans bring leadership abilities, work ethic, and that sense of camaraderie to any job. They work well as part of a team. It’s important in the corporate world because it creates that sense of belonging and collaboration that is needed to make you feel like you are part of something bigger. When you are in the military, you experience cultures from all over the world. You learn how to collaborate with people and work with them. You are going to have that person’s back no matter what. That is important in a leadership position. You adapt communication styles and are inclusive to everyone, empowering others around you.
The military prepares you for what’s next. It teaches you pride in your job. Everyone I know who has served has been proud of that.