September 21 wasn’t a typical day of work for Jeremy Borys, AlixPartners’ Chief Talent Officer.
On that day, he boarded the USS OSCAR AUSTIN, a naval destroyer off the coast of Virginia, practiced handling weapons, and later participated in a Maritime Expeditionary Security Group (MESG) 2 simulation of a naval battle. “That was just the morning session,” Jeremy said.
He was at Naval Station Norfolk at the invitation of Vice Admiral John Mustin, Chief of the Navy Reserve, for the 2022 Navy Employer Recognition Event (NERE) in support of Tom Reid, a Senior Vice President in the firm’s Retail Practice and also, as his uniform indicated, a Lieutenant Commander in the US Navy Reserve. Tom nominated AlixPartners for this event out of appreciation for the firm’s support of his ongoing military service.
Tom joined the US Navy in college and was responsible for teaching personnel how to operate the nuclear reactors that power US submarines and aircraft carriers. Later, he earned his MBA while serving.
After making the decision to separate from active duty, he moved into consulting, but kept up his service as a reservist specializing in human resources. On top of AlixPartners commitments, his service requires on average 12 hours a week, as well as weekend stints of unit training. In 2019, Tom was working at AlixPartners when he was tagged for a year-long involuntary mobilization to the Republic of Djibouti in East Africa, just as his wife was pregnant with their first child.
During the deployment, AlixPartners sent care packages to Tom and to his spouse, extended their benefits, assisted with logistical preparations for his mission, and helped Tom stay engaged with the firm while deployed.
Working with the Benefits Team, Tom explains, “we came up with a really great program that has now been codified in our employee handbook.” The firm also tops up reserve and guard pay for up to two weeks of military leave per year and offers 26 weeks of leave for employees who need to care for a family member who experiences illness or injury during military service.
The Military and Uniformed Service Team (MUST) employee resource group, in which Tom took an active leadership role upon returning from his deployment, has likewise created resources and peer mentorships for staff with a service background to include not only military, but also police, fire, and EMS.
That network of support, Jeremy says, is crucial to keeping and recruiting exceptional talent from the armed forces, the most diverse workforce in the world. Military personnel “can handle a lot of complexity in a short amount of time,” he said, and bring with them the “ability to create alignment immediately and then just go do what you have to do.”
The knowledge transfer goes both ways. “I've been able to use a lot of the leadership lessons that I've learned on the military side and bring those to my work at AlixPartners,” Tom said, “and then I've gained a lot of transferable skills in consulting that I've been able to work back into my reserve career, whether that be building Excel tools to manage my unit or dealing with tough customers on the active duty side.”
Balancing military service with a demanding consulting career and growing family is not easy, but Tom finds personal meaning in his commitment. “My grandfathers both served. It's something I felt strongly about, and I knew I wasn't done serving,” he said.
As a reservist, he has worked at Fort Dix in New Jersey as Afghani refugees were brought in after the fall of Kabul, and just last month served at the US joint forces’ European headquarters in Germany, where members of his team have supported throughout the Ukraine Crisis. “It's been very meaningful to be able to say that we had a part in supporting Ukraine,” Tom said. Being able to continue his naval career means growing the next generation of military leaders and living out the AlixPartners motto of being there to lead “when it really matters.”
Both Jeremy and Tom see the NERE recognition as a sign of AlixPartners’ growing commitment to veterans. The firm was already a Silver-Level Veteran Friendly Employer in the state of Michigan and a signatory of the UK Armed Forces Covenant. AlixPartners is now making a concerted effort to hire Junior Military Officers, who are a diverse group already aligned to AlixPartners core values.
“We have a commitment to our people that we're going to do whatever it takes to make sure their life is good,” Jeremy said of current and former service members and their families.
“The firm does a great job of taking care of us, and even sent my children a birthday gift recently,” Tom said. “[AlixPartners is] an elite group of people that are beyond experts in their fields, and we must take care of them to preserve our culture as we grow. At AlixPartners, as in the US military, we are obsessed above all else with developing our people.”
Though he’s been back on dry land for a while now, the pride, camaraderie, and the sense of appreciation witnessed in Norfolk has stuck with Jeremy. “I can still feel it a month and a half later,” he said. “It's just incredible.”