Serving Country and Clients: Members of the Military on Working at Everbridge
Whether they’re retired from active duty or currently serving, members of the military offer highly valuable skills and expertise to the companies that hire them — and often, they need specialized support in return. Below, Everbridge team members John Goodson (Senior Intelligence Analyst), Ben Potter (Manager of Implementations), and Jonathan Wilkerson (Open Source Intelligence Analyst) explain what it was like to transition from the military to the civilian world, how their backgrounds inform their roles at Everbridge, and how the company makes it possible for them to continue to serve.
What do you do at Everbridge?
John: I’m a senior intelligence analyst, which essentially means I provide security and risk assessments for our clients, tailor intelligence products for them, and train them to use our platform. I’m fairly new to the team: I joined Planet Risk about a year ago, and my business unit was acquired by Everbridge nine months after I joined. I was hired to help onboard a specific client, and now I’m branching out to more accounts and areas, including military. I was active duty in the Army for about nine years, so it’s a good fit with my background.
Jonathan: I also came from PlanetRisk, and I’m an open source intelligence analyst. I was hired because of my international relations and linguistic background — they needed someone who spoke both Spanish and Arabic to do translations and GIS analysis of open source information. Since Everbridge acquired PlanetRisk, I’ve transitioned into more of a training role as an Implementation Specialist. I get to travel to bases and installations around the country to show clients how to use our information sharing enterprise platform.
Ben: I’m Manager of Implementations, and I’ve been with Everbridge for four years in various roles. I oversee the team that delivers customer onboarding and professional services to clients that are new to the Everbridge platform. After a salesperson closes a deal, that client comes to us to learn to use the system. Eventually, we hand off to the Account Management and Customer Success teams, which handles ongoing client success and retention.
Tell us about your military backgrounds, and how they inform your work at Everbridge.
Ben: I’ve been in the National Guard for just over four years now. I’m a field artillery officer — I’m the executive officer for a firing battery of M777 howitzers. I joined Everbridge in part because I saw a correlation between what I’d learned in the Army and the work we do here. The focus on communicating and making sure everyone understands the goal and how to achieve it — that’s drilled into your head in the military, and it’s what we do for our clients, as well. And I didn’t want to just be a cog in a wheel somewhere. Everbridge had a mission I could get behind. We keep people safe on a daily basis. That’s what stuck with me.
“Making sure everyone understands the goal and how to achieve it — that’s drilled into your head in the military, and it’s what we do for our clients, as well.” — Ben
John: I joined the Army right out of college, and I was in the intelligence corps. So this feels like a continuation of the work I’ve been doing since 2005. We’re looking for the same things I was looking for in the military. There is more variety now, though. I’m working with different sectors — military, retail, oil and gas. And there’s always a new cutting-edge tool to work with, which is exciting.
Honestly, when I think back on my time in Iraq or Afghanistan or even here in the U.S., I wish we’d had tools like the ones we offer at Everbridge. People who haven’t been in the military might think it’s like the movies, with a bunch of fancy NSA software. But most of the time, it’s just a guy with a laptop in some windowless office, trying to do his best with outdated resources. So Everbridge is meeting a very real need. Everyone in the military wants to take care of his or her soldiers, and every tool is invaluable. It’s fulfilling to be able to help.
Jonathan: I’m a Military Intelligence officer in the Army Reserves, and I’m relatively new to the military — I just got back from basic training and officer candidate school a few months ago. I was immediately able to apply the things I’d learned from my military training to my work on a daily basis. When it comes to intelligence analysis, getting a source and looking at how it will affect your client’s day-to-day operations is similar to what I do in the military. As Ben said, the two missions coincide. Both roles are about keeping people safe and informed. And my military service has allowed me to evolve my role here in new directions. It’s actually been the main driver of my career at Everbridge so far.
Can you give us some examples of how Everbridge helps military clients?
Jonathan: We provide tools that enable prompt sharing of relevant information. For example, there was an incident at a military installation that was moved to another military installation down the road. The people at that second location didn’t know the first had been targeted, and the customer realized the need for a system that provided a common operational picture that could keep everyone not only informed, but also on the same page about how to respond to such incidents.
Another incident happened at Fort Hood a couple of years ago. An LMTV overturned while trying to ford a swollen river, and nine people were killed. Everbridge’s products are specifically designed to communicate with people at every level in a situation like that, when there’s a weather event or another threat in the area. The system absolutely might have saved those soldiers’ lives.
“When I think back on my time in Iraq or Afghanistan, I wish we’d had tools like the ones we offer at Everbridge.” — John
John: I know Everbridge would have been amazing when I was serving in Iraq. We were tracking insurgents around the Middle East and the rest of the world, and we didn’t have the best tools for communications and monitoring and visual presentation. I was also deployed to Japan after the Fukushima nuclear disaster, and there was a severe lack of communication infrastructure in that situation. This platform would have been invaluable.
What would you tell someone with a military background who’s concerned their skills won’t transfer to tech?
John: I don’t know if that stigma will ever go away. Even today, there’s much more emphasis on technical training in the military, but a lot of people still worry their jobs won’t translate to the civilian world — especially to tech and IT. They think they could never work at a company like Everbridge because they don’t know how to code or have a computer science degree.
But what they do have is the ability to learn and train quickly and at extremely high stress levels. They have situational awareness. They can spot intelligence. They understand radios and mass communication systems. They have so many skills that are immediately translatable to the work we do here.
Ben: Absolutely — the stigma is just that. There are soldiers in my unit from every professional background. Most don’t work in tech. But they know how to troubleshoot a DAGR GPS; they know how to use a blue force tracker; they know how to use a classified fill device. And they have a lot of non-technical qualifications that are also highly valuable — the drive to fulfill a mission, the ability to operate against timelines, the ability to see how your tasks fit into the big picture. All of that translates well.
What was the cultural shift like, going from the military to the corporate world?
Jonathan: When I first got back from Army training, it felt like walking on eggshells. In a military environment, the filters of the civilian world kind of come off. You’re living with the ever-present threat of angering some first sergeant who will make you do push-ups in the middle of a field in front of your entire unit, and you just develop a thick skin.
Obviously, the corporate environment is different. It’s friendly and welcoming, which is great, but it does take some adjustment. The structures are the same, though — there are timelines and objectives to meet, and there are steps that are needed to get the job done. As John and Ben said, all of that transfers. And I think Everbridge really sees the value of our backgrounds. They know we’re willing to go the extra mile, and that we’re going to show up to every meeting 10 minutes early and be well-prepared.
John: The first month after I left the military, I kept thinking meetings were canceled because I showed up early and no one was there! There’s definitely an adjustment period. Coming off active duty can be a major culture shock.
I’ve been here a year now, and I’m still waiting for someone to scream at me. I was an NCO, so I’m all about training and discipline. If you make a mistake in the military, you get punished on the spot. In the corporate world, it’s obviously different. The punishment might be not getting a promotion or losing an opportunity to go to a training. You don’t have someone looking over your shoulder. You have to be self-sufficient.
Sometimes that includes asking what might seem like simple questions. When you’re in the military, you’re used to having a lot of things taken care of — your base has a doctor, a dentist, an office where you can go with financial questions. In a corporate environment, you might have to figure out how to get help with benefits and payroll and things like that. Don’t be afraid to ask.
“It’s great to be part of a team that values us and what we can learn and contribute by serving.” — Jonathan
Ben: Absolutely. And a lot of people at Everbridge have had to make those kinds of adjustments, whether their background is military or emergency services or they volunteer for Team Rubicon. When you’re in the field with your unit, sleeping under the stars and digging foxholes and blowing stuff up, there’s a different culture. Coming back to work on Monday, it’s not like you have to be a different person — but you do have to temper how you speak with people and how you give feedback, especially as a leader.
At the same time, there’s a lot that’s similar. There’s a level of camaraderie at Everbridge; it’s a very close-knit organization. We’re focused on getting our work done and then enjoying the payoff of seeing that mission accomplished. The military is the same way.
What’s it like to balance military service with a full-time job?
Ben: Everbridge is my primary focus, but obviously the military has its demands as well, especially as an Officer. Keeping track of personnel, training, planning — a lot of that happens on my own time. But Everbridge has been great about understanding the time commitment we make in our military lives. And there are policies to support us when we leave for any extended period of time. In the National Guard, training is typically one weekend per month and two weeks in the summer, but that can change. This year, I’ve had a lot of three- and four-day drills, and my annual training will be almost a month. If a commitment gets extended like that, I just communicate with my manager. And we don’t have to use our PTO, which is great.
When I first started at Everbridge, they didn’t really have policies to support people who served, so I partnered with HR to codify things, like differential pay. I think any service member who’s joining the civilian world should be prepared to ask those hard questions. You need to know what an organization offers and what happens if your commitment gets extended. When you live in both worlds, that support is indispensable, and a lot of companies don’t offer it.
Jonathan: That’s great advice. I’ve had similar experiences so far in the reserves — our battalion’s annual training will be about a month this year, as well, and sometimes a weekend training is Wednesday all the way to Sunday. Everbridge has been so supportive in those situations, and not having to use PTO is super important. It’s great to be part of a team that values us and what we can learn and contribute by serving.