HOUSTON—While still serving in the US Army in Bosnia, lieutenant colonel Frank Stanley began thinking about the future. A mentor encouraged him to consider commercial real estate. He completed the education requirements for a real estate license in his free time, and took and passed the test after he left active duty in 2000.
He joined the Cushman & Wakefield office in January of 2001, working first in corporate services and then seguing into brokerage. But after 9/11, Stanley was called back to active duty and sent to Iraq. In May 2004, he returned to Cushman & Wakefield and did brokerage work with the Kelley Parker and John Littman team in Houston for several years before being recalled out of retirement to active duty. Last year, Cushman & Wakefield asked the 33-year military vet if he’d like to rejoin the firm and develop a new veterans initiative. He jumped at the chance to be the firm’s manager of veteran recruitment and programs. Stanley shared his insights about military veterans and CRE in this exclusive.
GlobeSt.com: What was it about the opportunity to head up the Veterans Initiative Program at Cushman & Wakefield that appealed to you?
Stanley: More than anything, the chance to continue working with veterans and help them transition from military life to civilian life. I knew I could help them learn about business and specifically commercial real estate. It’s a different arena with different terminology, but it’s very mission-oriented and disciplined. A lot of things we do in the service transfer very well. I’m fortunate to have the support of Bruce Mosler, chairman of global brokerage and veteran initiatives. Bruce is a long-time supporter of American veterans. Also on the team are Tom Dowd, national operations director, who served with the US Marine Corps, and Rick Cenkus, Americas COO, who served in the US Air Force. Both Tom and Rick served in Desert Storm/Desert Shield, and both office in Dallas.
GlobeSt.com: What does the program involve?
Stanley: There are several aspects. First, we work with veterans already here at Cushman & Wakefield. It’s important that we connect people and help them develop camaraderie and make sure they have a voice. We also, as mentioned, work with veterans who are still in the early stages of making the shift to civilian life. That involves resume tailoring—how do you explain what you did in the military in a way that can be understood by people who are making hiring decisions? Say you were a brigade commander and in that role you oversaw 3,000 people and built operating bases in Afghanistan. Or you oversaw a fleet of vehicles. How do those things translate into real estate? Well, they happen to translate exceptionally well. We help veterans show the value of their experience.
Lastly, we spend a great deal of time working with our recruiters and HR professionals to help them understand how military skills and experiences can best be matched with various career opportunities within Cushman & Wakefield. This new program encompasses all service lines, as well as the sister company, C&W Services. We also actively participate with Hiring Our Heroes, a program of the US Chamber of Commerce Foundation that provides service members with training and hands-on experience through corporate fellowships.
GlobeSt.com: What are some of the challenges facing veterans transitioning into corporate life, and how do you support them?
Stanley: There are distinct things that get ingrained in the military that are different in business. In the service, people get used to giving and following orders. Getting used to traditional norms in business can be an adjustment. My wife likes to remind me from time to time, “I’m not one of your soldiers”. We also help people understand things like a 401(k). We try to help guide them down their new paths and do what we can to help them be successful in their new roles.
GlobeSt.com: Why do veterans make good hires?
Stanley: Veterans are goal- and action-oriented. They’re strategic. They have tenacity. And they’re honest and loyal. Duty, honor and country—those words have meaning, regardless of whether you’re wearing a uniform. In real estate, duty is the assignment we’re given, honor is our integrity and country is our company. We know the veterans we hire will perform at the highest levels and represent Cushman & Wakefield in a very positive way. As I tell many people, hiring veterans is not just a good thing to do, it’s a smart business strategy, too.