If you visit Steve Yannelli’s workspace, you are likely to see a coffee mug that he used during a combat deployment in Iraq. The mug, emblazoned with a military emblem, has sparked several conversations about his years in the Army National Guard, a topic that Steve is glad to discuss, especially with other veterans who are just starting their transitions to civilian life.
Vita spoke with Steve to learn more about his service and how he gives back to the veteran community today.
Tell us about your military service.
I served as a commissioned officer within the Pennsylvania Army National Guard. I held various leadership positions within several Army National Guard units for ten years. In my last position, I was the commanding officer of a Signal Corps unit within the 56th Stryker Brigade Combat Team.
Our unit managed satellite and radio communication systems across northern Iraq during a combat tour from 2008 to 2009. We worked closely with the Iraqi military to assist them with logistics and supply operations.
How do the skills from your military service relate to your on-the-job experience?
There were many parallels between my military and civilian career. Today I am a Director within the Business Technology organization at CSL Behring, where I lead the Global SAP Application Security team. There are similarities between the military’s communications technology and what is used in corporate data centers. And then there are soft skills such as planning, self-discipline, following through and delivering superior results, which can help people excel in both the military and at companies like CSL Behring.
My military experience has honed the way I approach activities in the workplace such as planning and project delivery. When lives depend on the decisions you make and how well you deliver, your focus, mindset and quality of work all improve.
Tell us something about your experience as a veteran that might surprise people who haven’t been in your shoes.
Most people think that the military is exactly how it is portrayed in Hollywood movies. These movies tend to over-dramatize and exaggerate what it is like to serve. Soldiers are people and the military is more like a normal office environment than most people think. The same concepts of working hard, leading by example, setting and achieving goals and following through on your promises are just a few commonalities.
We know that the loved ones of our servicemen and women sacrifice a lot too. Do you have any “heroes” in your life who sacrificed as a result of your service?
My wife is my hero. She supported me during my time away training with the military and through 13 consecutive months of mobilization to the Middle East.
I served with soldiers who had deployed overseas several times. They sacrificed much more than I did. I have the greatest respect for people who are still serving and who continue to make significant personal sacrifices to serve our country.
I try to “give back” to the military community through a professional organization called Veterati, which connects members of the military and veterans with mentors within various industries to help them transition to new careers.
What is your message for veterans who might be considering a career with CSL Behring?
Very few companies manufacture a product that people rely on to live, but at CSL Behring that’s exactly what we do. Most soldiers stay in the military because they form close bonds with the people they serve with. The same is true within CSL: people stay with our company because it is a great place to work. We have some of the most talented people in the industry that work together across many different countries and cultures.
Last question: Is the coffee better at CSL Behring than it is in Iraq?
Yes, without a doubt!