Veterans Day 2020

Meet Abigail Moening
Strategic Finance Analyst

The former paratrooper shares how her training and preparation in the US Army’s 82nd Airborne Division gives her the confidence to take on new challenges in the workplace
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Before Abigail Moening was a Strategic Finance Analyst in AlixPartners’ Southfield office, she was a paratrooper in the US Army’s 82nd Airborne Division.

A self-described reckless kid, Abigail made 10 trips to the emergency room before her tenth birthday. Her parents gave up trying to control her risk-seeking behavior and instead encouraged her to channel it into less dangerous outlets.

Abigail enlisted in the US Army when she was 19 and joined the paratrooper unit. Although the experience provided plenty of excitement, the hours-long preparation before each jump was what has stuck with her when she entered the corporate world years later.

“You go through hours of pre-jump, where you sit in front of maps going, here’s the drop zone, here’s where you are going to jump from, here are the hazards you should anticipate. You talk through every step, so even though you have limited knowledge of what will happen on the jump, you can fill it in from your training.”
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During her training at Fort Benning, Georgia, Abigail was initially frustrated by the time and energy that she spent preparing for tasks, but she quickly realized that the process was necessary to manage her anxieties and ensure that her team worked as a cohesive unit. With up to 100 troopers jumping in rapid succession, there was always the threat of entanglements in the air.

“Putting trust in your training and equipment took on life and death proportions,” she said.

Night jumps required even more preparation and focus. She would spend hours before a night jump thinking through her route and all potential contingencies so she could react calmly should something happen.

On one particularly windy and hazy night, Abigail’s decisive action saved a teammate from serious injury. From the outset, Abigail knew this jump would be out of the ordinary. Most of the first group of troopers to jump that night landed in the trees, so Abigail and her group circled overhead in the plane for hours as ground crews located all the stuck troopers.

Her group was given glowsticks to make them easier to find if they landed in the trees as well. It was the only time her team was lit up during a jump; watching the glittering dots falling below her was surreal. Still, the low visibility and high-speed winds was disorienting. She could not see the ground and could not properly brace for landing.

Despite the sudden landing, Abigail fell back on the process that had been drilled into her. She disconnected her chute, packed up her gear, and scanned the area, when she noticed a fellow jumper unresponsive being pulled by his chute.

“I started running towards him,” she explained. “As I got closer, I saw he was much bigger than me so I wouldn’t be able to jump on him and slow him down, so I decided to jump into his chute. I got as big as I could and jumped in, not fully realizing how quickly it was going to collapse on me, but it worked.”

Through experiences like this one, Abigail learned that preparation gave her the confidence to take on new challenges.

“My mentors told me to embrace my nervousness and anxiety, because it would keep me on my toes. Complacency is the biggest no-no word in the Army.”  
- , , AlixPartners

After sustaining a serious ankle injury during training, Abigail left the military and got degrees in financial economics and accounting, and she was recruited by AlixPartners after graduating. She felt that her military experience and progressive mindset was part of the reason the firm was interested in her.

“I think the firm responded to my resourcefulness and experience getting things done in less than optimal situations,” she said. Abigail supports financial forecasting and reporting for several of the firm’s service lines and assists in the budgeting process to ensure engagement profitability.

As the pandemic has upended the way businesses work and posed unique challenges for working mothers like Abigail, the skills she learned as a paratrooper have been critical.

“As I think about the Airborne Creed, the part that stands out is the need to always be ready,” she said. “We always need to take care of ourselves physically, mentally, and emotionally so that we are ready to face each day at our best.”

This November, AlixPartners salutes servicemembers across the world by sharing the stories of members of our Military and Uniformed Services Team (MUST) employee resource group and highlighting the unique and valuable perspective they bring to our firm.

Learn more about diversity and inclusion, and all our employee resource groups here. 

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