Neither those who served in the Army and National Guard with Allen Hibbert nor his professional colleagues would be surprised to learn that he has played chess since age 5.
Allen is always thinking several moves ahead, whether in his former military roles or in his current role as a Cyber Security Engineer.
Although Allen prefers the term “veteran” to “hero”, he agreed to speak with Vita as a part of the “Heroes Who Work Here” series.
Tell us when and how you joined the Armed Forces?
After graduating university I started a career in information technology. At my second job, I was fortunate enough to work in an R&D capacity for an international security monitoring company. I was able to leverage knowledge gained through my life to design, develop and implement an international automated log management and monitoring platform. Today they call it data science. At that time there was no such term. Following leadership changes at that company, I decided to do something completely different.
At the age of 26, I went to the Army recruiting office in Norristown, Pennsylvania, and began the process of induction. I was given a book of options to choose from. I saw an opportunity in California (and thought to myself, “beach!”) and Light Infantry. This was about as opposite from what I had been doing as I could get. Once in California, a colonel interviewed me, re-tasked me to Intelligence and set me up with plenty of schools to learn reconnaissance skills. Being trained in both disciplines, the role was dynamic because I knew both ends of the job: the reconnaissance in the field and skills to gather human intelligence during those operations, as well as intelligence operations between those missions.
After a few years, I rejoined the civilian work force while I served on a Long Range Surveillance Detachment team in the National Guard. Life has been progressing since.
How would you describe your job at CSL Behring and how do your military skills play a role?
As a Cyber Security Engineer, I leverage technology and policy skills to help CSL Behring unleash data in new, compliant and productive ways. Over the course of my career, I have applied a methodical, strategic approach that I have developed over my life, including lessons learned while serving in the military. I’m an analyst by nature. It is in my approach to everything.
The most valuable skill to me has been the experience of how a real team operates. By nature I am collaborative, open and supportive of others and their goals, provided they align with a collectively beneficial objective. During my time on a specialized team, I learned the skill of how to put those natural aspects of myself into play in a true team environment. This includes keeping focus on the target objective for the higher goals, which benefit the ‘team’.
Another skill is attitude maintenance. Keep the sun up and eyes forward. When things grab at you, embrace it and move on. Yeah, it’s a skill.
The concept of “team” seems very important to you. Why is that?
Working in a true team environment was an extraordinary experience and has had an effect on how I interact with others and operate. In the military, you have a rank structure but you operate more as colleagues and each person has a role that is more important than rank. You’re competing against an objective not each other. It enables someone to not be concerned with someone else’s position or authority. Instead, I see them as serving in a role. It enables you to speak and work candidly with anyone in any role. I’ve found, solid leaders appreciate that and respect it. That’s when really good stuff happens.
CSL Behring works to cultivate an open and friendly culture, which is awesome because it is conducive to collaborative progress. Ever see the scene from the movie Spartacus where the captives are asked which of them is Spartacus? Team. Heroes? Who are the heroes? Every hero has a support system, which enables them to do the things they do. It’s a team effort. The team requires all of them.
What advice do you have for military servicemen and women who are transitioning to a civilian job?
Civilian work is very different, especially if you are just getting out of the military. Working five days a week, sleeping through the night without being woken, having access to plentiful good food, all of these are things we take for granted in the civilian workforce.
In the military you meet people from different units, different countries and cultures. You have to find a way to work together. This translates into the civilian workforce as well, especially at a global company like CSL Behring. My advice is to just be yourself. Be understanding. Give people time to acclimate to you, and they will do the same. If you have some struggles, find a buddy to help. Even the most hardened individuals I’ve worked with need a buddy. It takes time, a few adjustments, nothing you can’t handle. Remember, some of the vocabulary used while in the military may cause some confusion. Roll with it.
What advice do you have for companies that hire veterans?
Veteran friendly policies have to be carried through at all levels. When I worked for a former employer, I faced a potential deployment and a leader in the organization instructed my manager to hold my job for when I got back. The owner and leadership were all very supportive of that, weekends away, summer exercises. It makes a big difference. Ultimately I didn’t end up deploying that time, but I appreciated knowing that the company supported my family and me.