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Intrepid Woman: Rupali Deshmukh on Remaking Veteran Transitions

Accenture Helps Military Vets in CharlotteBy Melissa J. Anderson (New York City)

Last week, Accenture launched a new online Military Career Coach tool for veterans transitioning from military roles to the private sector. Rupali Deshmukh, Military Sourcing Lead at Accenture, considers the tool an extension of one-on-one coaching she has been doing for veterans. Now, she says, the online tool will be able to reach many more men and women who are transitioning to work in the private sector.

She knows first-hand the kinds of challenges members of the military face in making that adjustment. Deshmukh, who moved to the United States in 1999, was stirred to action after the September 11th terrorist attacks, and joined the Army as an HR administrator. In 2001, she joined the Army Reserves, and after a tour of service in Kuwait, and two more as a contractor, she came back to the US looking for a civilian job. Eventually, in 2011, she was hired as a military recruitment expert at Accenture.

She said, “In the 8 years of my career with the military, as well as with Accenture and other companies, my proudest achievement is the workshop I created for my candidates. We provide them with a resume and tools to help them get hired with us or someone else. When I get those emails thanking me and saying they’ve been hired – it’s pure joy.”

Lessons Learned

“I was a little naïve when I was younger,” Deshmukh recalled. “I studied political science and history, and I truly wish that back then I had someone who told me, ‘This is what you do. Get these certifications, take these classes.’ I wish there had been a better strategy for students – and the same with veterans – to think about their career with a step by step approach.”

Fortunately, she said, the biggest lesson she learned through her service in the military is that it’s never too late to learn. “One of the big tenets in the military is that you’re never too old to learn something new – adapt and overcome. At the end of the day, veterans understand ‘I’ve got to do what I’ve got to do.’ You learn it – there are a lot of resources out there, and all you have to do is reach out.”

She continued, “The best advice I can give anybody is to listen and learn. Be a fly on the wall and challenge yourself. Teachers can help you, but unless I learn to help myself, I’m not going to grow. Constantly be learning and challenging yourself. Set goals to go from A to B. People who are experts are all around us. Listen to them and learn from them.”

Building Bridges

When Accenture determined it wanted to ramp up its veteran recruitment, Deshmukh recalled, it was clear that there were bridges that needed to be built. “When I look at Accenture and military recruiting, I think about the personal journey for everyone who has been involved. We learned and realized a few things along the way, about veterans and about us.”

“We’ve started a lot of discussions about transitions, not just military, but also with civilian personnel. We want to ensure both groups get to know about each other,” she explained. “It’s also about building bridges. You might see a woman in uniform carrying an M16 on the weekend. But from 8am to 5pm on the weekdays, she’s in front of a laptop processing payroll.”

She continued, “We also have training programs for the recruiting community to better understand military candidates. Recruiters are the gatekeepers – they’re the ones who see a resume for the first time and decide if it’s interesting. We have now incorporated other folks and they are starting to create more awareness in hiring managers, stakeholders, leadership. For each person we touch, everywhere they go, they are touching someone else in a positive way. We are also working on carrying on momentum. If you let it drop, it’s going to drop.”

Deshmukh added, “This is an incredibly talented talent pool. As we get to know them better, our goals have been either to hire and match them to the right positions, or to provide them with the resources and tools to get them hired somewhere else. As we go along, we are keeping these points in mind.”

Reaching a Wider Audience

“There are a lot of people in this space working on military transitions,” Deshmukh explained. “The efforts are there, and are really good efforts, but they are fragmented. What we are doing through the collaboration with various organizations is connecting the dots for a successful transition.”

The Accenture Military Career Coach will enable more veterans to access the work Deshmukh and her colleagues have been creating through their one-on-one coaching and workshops. “To provide the expertise to a broader audience, we are launching the online Military Career Coach tool that is able to touch veterans on a large scale,” she explained.

“It is going to focus on all parts of the transition – location, job search, resume, interview prep. One more thing we are doing that is really important is that we are collaborating with federal, state, and local level government as well as NGOs to better serve military job seekers.” LinkedIn is providing content for the Military Career Coach, and Accenture is also partnering with the Wounded Warrior Project, IVMF, 100,000 Jobs Mission, and American Corporate Partners.

Accenture recently signed a Statement of Support with the Employer Support of the Guard and Reserve (ESGR), a Department of Defense committee, at a day of resume development and interview skill workshops Accenture hosted in Charlotte, North Carolina. Deshmukh led the workshops and was joined by several military veterans who now work at Accenture Credit Services, located in Charlotte.

Outside the office, Deshmukh enjoys spending time with her family, “I love my family – I wouldn’t be anywhere without their support,” she said. She also recently became a certified yoga instructor.