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Veterans & Diversity Go Hand in Hand


African-American Career World Magazine

Diverse careers for veterans who can take charge of their post-military destiny exist in every industry, and employers value the diversity they bring to the workplace, as well as their coveted, proven skill sets.

Hunt Cooks Up Career Possibilities at Hormel Foods

As an enlisted member of the U.S. Navy from 1999 to 2013, Rashad Hunt always knew his fellow military men and women relied on his commitment to details as he worked on the controls, landing gear and pneumatics of F/A-18 Hornet supersonic jets. He valued the chance to contribute to keeping the aircraft flying safely and enjoyed the technological tasks. In fact, Hunt enrolled at Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University to advance his knowledge base in preparation for his post-service professional life.

“With this degree I considered working for an aeronautics company. That changed after I went to a military hiring conference and was introduced to Hormel Foods,” recalls the certified maintenance and reliability professional (CMRP).

Some might question Hunt’s career choice. How could a job in food manufacturing reach the same heights as advancing the country’s aeronautical aspirations? For Hunt, though, the company’s culture surpassed all other criteria in his decision- making process.

“I love interacting with the great people of Hormel Foods,” he says. “Hormel Foods gave me a sense of home and being welcomed. From the first interview to the first day on the job and every day since, I’ve always felt welcomed.”

Still based in Austin, MN, where George A. Hormel set up shop more than 125 years ago, Hormel Foods has been built on creating traditions. From the public perspective, its brands have become American classics, such as Spam and Dinty Moore. More recently acquired labels, such as Fontanini, Herdez and House of Tsang, established a new tradition of catering to a more international palate and flavor profile.

Some of the company’s most endearing traditions, however, center around its workforce. For example, out of respect for military duty, Mr. Hormel established a guaranteed job and benefits policy for employees who deployed to the Spanish-American War – which was fought at the very end of the 19th century in 1898 – as members of the Minnesota National Guard long before such practices were mandated.

Another tradition guaranteed employees annual wages, a joint-earning plan and an employee profit-sharing trust. These terms may be commonly associated with modern benefits packages, but in 1938, in the midst of the Great Depression, they were unheard of, and management created the policies anyway. Hunt insists that level of commitment to staff remains evident at Hormel Foods today.

“It’s been a pleasure to work for the company, and I truly believe I have the support to be successful professionally and personally,” he says. “I’m also in a place where I’m challenged and feel like my efforts are helping the organization.”

As a corporate reliability engineer, Hunt has adapted his experience with assessing and addressing intricate aircraft technology to overseeing and improving systems involved with large-scale food production. In addition to coordinating all facilities on reliability improvement initiatives, he trains people on the computerized maintenance management system, as well as on root-cause analysis investigations.

“Also, I help our teams by assisting with equipment management, including preventive maintenance strategies, and predictive maintenance technologies,” the corporate reliability engineer adds.

When Hunt grounded his original career plans in exchange for a non-traditional path for veterans, he proved skills obtained via the armed services cross boundaries. As such, he advises employers to be explicit in communicating needs and expectations so veterans can formulate their own strategies for success for themselves and their companies.