G.I. JOBS VIRTUAL CAREER EXPO   I   MAY 25TH

MCPON’s Next Mission

[fusion_builder_container background_color=”” background_image=”” background_parallax=”none” enable_mobile=”no” parallax_speed=”0.3″ background_repeat=”no-repeat” background_position=”left top” video_url=”” video_aspect_ratio=”16:9″ video_webm=”” video_mp4=”” video_ogv=”” video_preview_image=”” overlay_color=”” overlay_opacity=”0.5″ video_mute=”yes” video_loop=”yes” fade=”no” border_size=”0px” border_color=”” border_style=”” padding_top=”20″ padding_bottom=”20″ padding_left=”” padding_right=”” hundred_percent=”no” equal_height_columns=”no” hide_on_mobile=”no” menu_anchor=”” class=”” id=””][fusion_text]Like many service members leaving the military, Master Chief Petty Officer of the Navy Mike Stevens faced a crossroads when he decided to hang up his uniform after 33 years. As the Navy’s top enlisted leader, he had some options. There was the defense industry, which loves to put ex-military leaders to work. He could offer his talents to a nonprofit like the YMCA, the American Red Cross or a Veterans Service Organization. He could pursue a role at the VA.

Stevens knew one thing as he chewed on his options. The Montana native wanted a civilian career where he could still make a difference, someplace he could still serve the military community.

“Before hanging up my Navy uniform and transitioning to civilian life, it was important to me to join an organization where I can continue to make a difference in the lives of the young men and women who served and their families,” Stevens said. “I had to find something where I could give back, continue to serve.”

Then Stevens, 52, got a call from Chris Hale, a Navy veteran who in 2001 co-founded Victory Media, a company that helps transitioning military, veterans and their families find civilian success through resources such as G.I. Jobs®, Military Spouse, Vetrepreneur®, Military Friendly®, and STEM JobsTM. Hale invited Stevens to visit the company’s HQ in Pittsburgh. When he did, Stevens liked what he saw.

“And the more I looked into Victory Media, the more I talked to people who had interacted and had experiences with Victory Media, the more I began to realize this is something that I can see myself doing,” Stevens says. “That the mission is noble, that there’s a sense of family with the people who are here, that they have a direct interaction not just with veterans, but also with organizations that help veterans – colleges and industry and others.”

In October 2016 Stevens became the chief operating officer for Victory Media. In his new role, he is charged with scaling operations to support the company’s mission to create civilian success for our nation’s military community.

“Mike Stevens is a deeply principled leader who has used his world-class team-building and change- management skills to shepherd a proud Navy into the 21st century,” says Hale, chairman and CEO. “Mike will use those skills every day to enable Victory Media’s operations for its next phase of growth, in a mission perfectly aligned with his personal beliefs.”

The timing couldn’t be better. Victory Media is poised to release the 2017 Military Friendly® Employers and Military Friendly® Schools lists – the premier resources for the military and veteran community. First published in 2003, the Military Friendly® lists have evolved to incorporate personal reviews from student veterans and veteran employees, public data, and proprietary survey information. The Military Friendly® lists rate all eligible employers and schools and honor the best performers with top awards. Stevens is eager to help grow these pioneering post-military tools.

“Victory Media’s mission, vision and core beliefs are a perfect match for me,” Stevens said. “I look forward to extending our positive impact in creating even greater employment, education and entrepreneurial opportunities for veterans and military spouses.”[/fusion_text][/fusion_builder_container][fullwidth background_color=”” background_image=”” background_parallax=”none” enable_mobile=”no” parallax_speed=”0.3″ background_repeat=”no-repeat” background_position=”left top” video_url=”” video_aspect_ratio=”16:9″ video_webm=”” video_mp4=”” video_ogv=”” video_preview_image=”” overlay_color=”” overlay_opacity=”0.5″ video_mute=”yes” video_loop=”yes” fade=”no” border_size=”0px” border_color=”” border_style=”” padding_top=”20″ padding_bottom=”20″ padding_left=”” padding_right=”” hundred_percent=”no” equal_height_columns=”no” hide_on_mobile=”no” menu_anchor=”” class=”” id=””][testimonials design=”classic” backgroundcolor=”” textcolor=”#aa2323″ random=”” class=”” id=””][testimonial name=”” avatar=”none” image=”” image_border_radius=”” company=”” link=”” target=”_self”]“Before hanging up my Navy uniform and transitioning to civilian life, it was important to me to join an organization where I can continue to make a difference in the lives of the young men and women who served and their families. I had to find something where I could give back, continue to serve.”
[/testimonial][/testimonials][/fullwidth][fullwidth background_color=”” background_image=”” background_parallax=”none” enable_mobile=”no” parallax_speed=”0.3″ background_repeat=”no-repeat” background_position=”left top” video_url=”” video_aspect_ratio=”16:9″ video_webm=”” video_mp4=”” video_ogv=”” video_preview_image=”” overlay_color=”” overlay_opacity=”0.5″ video_mute=”yes” video_loop=”yes” fade=”no” border_size=”0px” border_color=”” border_style=”” padding_top=”20″ padding_bottom=”20″ padding_left=”” padding_right=”” hundred_percent=”no” equal_height_columns=”no” hide_on_mobile=”no” menu_anchor=”” class=”” id=””][fusion_text]Transition Turbulence

As the Master Chief Petty Officer of the Navy (MCPON), Stevens spent four years traveling and talking to enlisted sailors and their families. His conversations with the enlisted ranks often touched on the challenges of transitioning to civilian life. Stevens’ own transition from the Pentagon to Pittsburgh gives him new insight into this potentially nerve-wracking milestone.

“You know, that’s something that today I’m quickly beginning to understand even more so than I thought I understood when I was on active duty,” he says. “You never really know something unless you experience it, which is one of the reasons I’ve always tried to do everything that my sailors were doing.”

A former aviation mechanic and aviation crewman, Stevens compares the military-to-civilian transition to flying into a thunderstorm. The first couple of times the turbulence is unnerving; you wonder how long the aircraft can withstand such violence. Then you fly out of the thunderstorm into clear, calm air and breathe a sigh of relief. After doing that dozens of times, you give it little thought.

“When you get out of the service, it’s the same thing,” Stevens says. “You take off and you fly into these thunderclouds. And you only separate from the service typically one time, so you haven’t had that experience before. So you don’t know if or when the turbulence is going to stop.”

Transitioning from the Pentagon to a city without a large military presence has had some unique challenges for Stevens, which at times could be humorous. He found himself sitting one day in a Pennsylvania Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) office waiting to get his new civilian driver’s license. He chatted with the worker, who asked about his military career. When Stevens explained he had just retired as the MCPON, and what that was, the office worker replied pleasantly, “Oh, OK. That’s interesting. Grab a number and we’ll call you as soon as your name is up.”[/fusion_text][/fullwidth][fullwidth background_color=”” background_image=”” background_parallax=”none” enable_mobile=”no” parallax_speed=”0.3″ background_repeat=”no-repeat” background_position=”left top” video_url=”” video_aspect_ratio=”16:9″ video_webm=”” video_mp4=”” video_ogv=”” video_preview_image=”” overlay_color=”” overlay_opacity=”0.5″ video_mute=”yes” video_loop=”yes” fade=”no” border_size=”0px” border_color=”” border_style=”” padding_top=”20″ padding_bottom=”20″ padding_left=”” padding_right=”” hundred_percent=”no” equal_height_columns=”no” hide_on_mobile=”no” menu_anchor=”” class=”” id=””][testimonials design=”classic” backgroundcolor=”” textcolor=”#aa2323″ random=”” class=”” id=””][testimonial name=”” avatar=”none” image=”” image_border_radius=”” company=”” link=”” target=”_self”]“Just recognize that there are going to be a lots of things that pop up – unknowns – that nothing you could have done before you got out could have prepared you for. Stay focused, stay positive and soak in the experience, and recognize that you’ll fly through the clouds and you’ll hit this clear air. And I’d also say it’s important to be as financially ready to separate as you can be.”[/testimonial][/testimonials][/fullwidth][fullwidth background_color=”” background_image=”” background_parallax=”none” enable_mobile=”no” parallax_speed=”0.3″ background_repeat=”no-repeat” background_position=”left top” video_url=”” video_aspect_ratio=”16:9″ video_webm=”” video_mp4=”” video_ogv=”” video_preview_image=”” overlay_color=”” overlay_opacity=”0.5″ video_mute=”yes” video_loop=”yes” fade=”no” border_size=”0px” border_color=”” border_style=”” padding_top=”20″ padding_bottom=”20″ padding_left=”” padding_right=”” hundred_percent=”no” equal_height_columns=”no” hide_on_mobile=”no” menu_anchor=”” class=”” id=””][fusion_text]Big Sky Country

Stevens had come full circle. His rise through the ranks of the U.S. Navy really started in the Bitterroot Valley of Montana, where he was born. Stevens grew up in a tiny crossroads on the Flathead Indian Reservation called Evaro (population 322 as of the 2010 Census). His father was a sawmill worker who instilled in his son a hard-as-nails work ethic.

“My father was an extraordinarily hard worker, extremely committed to whatever he did. And I learned from that. He did not accept excuses,” Stevens says. “He used to say to me, ‘Mike, when it’s too tough for anybody else, it should be just right for you.’”

That work ethic served him well in the backcountry of Montana, where many young men become ranchers, loggers, farmers or millworkers. An avid outdoorsman who grew up hunting and fishing, Stevens wanted to join the Army or Marine Corps after his dad forbade him from working in the sawmill. But Army and Marine recruiters didn’t venture up to the small high school Stevens attended on the nearby Flathead Indian Reservation. One day a Navy recruiter did show up. Stevens liked what he heard and enlisted in the Delayed Entry Program in June 1982, entering service a year later.

 

Montana to Millington

Following basic training, Stevens completed aviation structural mechanic training in Millington, Tenn., then advanced training in Jacksonville, Fla. His first assignment to Rota, Spain, lasted his entire four-year enlistment. Was the MCPON on his radar in those early days? Hardly.

“To be honest with you, at that period of time, I didn’t even know what the Master Chief Petty Officer of the Navy was. I was focusing on the things that were closest to me. Some people call that the alligator closest to the canoe,” he says.

Following his original enlistment plan, Stevens transitioned from active duty to the Navy Reserve after his enlistment was up. He quickly realized he’d made a mistake, however, and spent the next five months working hard to get back on active duty. The rest, as they say, is history.

 

Secrets to His Success

In addition to the fierce work ethic his father taught him, Stevens says his experiences as a young aviation mechanic forged him into a leader. It’s a part of his life he recalls fondly.

“That’s where you really develop. That’s where you find out who you are. There were a lot of long, hot, cold nights – both on flight lines ashore and flight decks at sea,” he says. “I can remember working in the rain, the freezing rain. I can remember working in the scorching heat of the Middle East. Really pushing yourself, testing yourself mentally, physically, developing the skills you don’t even know about at the time that are going to help you become a good leader, a good servant, because those opportunities to be out there pushing yourself to the furthest limits of your capability are so very important for your future development.”

 

Saving Lives

The hard training, the long watches and the many hours enduring some of the harshest weather on Earth had rewards beyond nostalgia. In the early 1990s Stevens was a 26-year-old second class petty officer serving aboard the USS Tripoli, an Iwo Jima-class amphibious assault ship. He had just returned from flying a mission when he glanced at a helicopter preparing to lift off. Something didn’t look right on the main rotor head, and Stevens called it to the attention of the flight deck coordinator, who in turn talked to the air boss. They inspected the rotor head and found a mechanical component had become disconnected. Had the aircraft taken off, it would have crashed into the ocean with several of his close friends and his commanding officer aboard. Stevens received a Navy Achievement Medal and was recognized as the Safety Pro of the Month by the Naval Safety Center.

“All the recognition is fine, it’s interesting,” he says. “But to think that you played some small part in potentially saving the lives of crew, those are the moments I feel best about.”

 

Championing America’s Veterans

There were plenty of tough moments, too – attending funerals and memorial services for fallen shipmates top the list – but even those taught him valuable lessons and helped him grow into a strong leader.

He would need that strength during his four years as the 13th MCPON, where he spearheaded the implementation of several controversial changes – including the elimination of chief petty officer induction and the ratings system.

“When your traditions hold you back from becoming a better organization, you have to reevaluate,” he said.

Being a strong leader is not about doing what’s popular, Stevens said, it’s about doing what’s right. It’s just one of the many ways military service develops strong character, which helps veterans excel as employees, students and community leaders after they hang up the uniform. Now that he’s hung up his, Stevens relishes the role of championing America’s veterans to corporate America.

“Our veterans are just so knowledgeable, not just in the things that you’re hiring them to do, but in so many other ways,” he points out. “I mean, if you’re in the Navy and you’re an administrator, you’re not only an administrator, you’re qualified in first aid, you’re a firefighter, you know how to run IT systems, you’re a communicator, you stood long, hard watches in inclement weather so you have a high degree of fortitude and durability. These are the intangibles that many times we don’t recognize. We look at a resume and say, ‘Oh, they’re qualified to do this, this and this.’ But what’s not on that resume is the character and the strength and the values that person holds dear.”[/fusion_text][/fullwidth][fullwidth background_color=”” background_image=”” background_parallax=”none” enable_mobile=”no” parallax_speed=”0.3″ background_repeat=”no-repeat” background_position=”left top” video_url=”” video_aspect_ratio=”16:9″ video_webm=”” video_mp4=”” video_ogv=”” video_preview_image=”” overlay_color=”” overlay_opacity=”0.5″ video_mute=”yes” video_loop=”yes” fade=”no” border_size=”0px” border_color=”” border_style=”” padding_top=”20″ padding_bottom=”20″ padding_left=”” padding_right=”” hundred_percent=”no” equal_height_columns=”no” hide_on_mobile=”no” menu_anchor=”” class=”” id=””][one_third last=”no” spacing=”yes” center_content=”no” hide_on_mobile=”no” background_color=”” background_image=”” background_repeat=”no-repeat” background_position=”left top” hover_type=”none” link=”” border_position=”all” border_size=”0px” border_color=”” border_style=”solid” padding=”” margin_top=”” margin_bottom=”” animation_type=”0″ animation_direction=”down” animation_speed=”0.1″ animation_offset=”” class=”” id=””][imageframe lightbox=”no” lightbox_image=”” style_type=”bottomshadow” hover_type=”none” bordercolor=”” bordersize=”0px” borderradius=”0″ stylecolor=”” align=”none” link=”” linktarget=”_self” animation_type=”0″ animation_direction=”down” animation_speed=”0.1″ animation_offset=”” hide_on_mobile=”no” class=”” id=””] [/imageframe][imageframe lightbox=”no” lightbox_image=”” style_type=”bottomshadow” hover_type=”none” bordercolor=”” bordersize=”0px” borderradius=”0″ stylecolor=”” align=”none” link=”” linktarget=”_self” animation_type=”0″ animation_direction=”down” animation_speed=”0.1″ animation_offset=”” hide_on_mobile=”no” class=”” id=””] [/imageframe][separator style_type=”none” top_margin=”” bottom_margin=”15px” sep_color=”” border_size=”” icon=”” icon_circle=”” icon_circle_color=”” width=”” alignment=”center” class=”” id=””][imageframe lightbox=”no” lightbox_image=”” style_type=”bottomshadow” hover_type=”none” bordercolor=”” bordersize=”0px” borderradius=”0″ stylecolor=”” align=”none” link=”” linktarget=”_self” animation_type=”0″ animation_direction=”down” animation_speed=”0.1″ animation_offset=”” hide_on_mobile=”no” class=”” id=””] [/imageframe][separator style_type=”none” top_margin=”” bottom_margin=”15px” sep_color=”” border_size=”” icon=”” icon_circle=”” icon_circle_color=”” width=”” alignment=”center” class=”” id=””][/one_third][two_third last=”yes” spacing=”yes” center_content=”no” hide_on_mobile=”no” background_color=”” background_image=”” background_repeat=”no-repeat” background_position=”left top” hover_type=”none” link=”” border_position=”all” border_size=”0px” border_color=”” border_style=”solid” padding=”” margin_top=”” margin_bottom=”” animation_type=”0″ animation_direction=”down” animation_speed=”0.1″ animation_offset=”” class=”” id=””][title size=”2″ content_align=”left” style_type=”single solid” sep_color=”” margin_top=”” margin_bottom=”” class=”” id=””]We Had to Ask![/title][separator style_type=”none” top_margin=”” bottom_margin=”15px” sep_color=”” border_size=”” icon=”” icon_circle=”” icon_circle_color=”” width=”” alignment=”center” class=”” id=””][fusion_text]Guilty pleasure? I love cheese!
Favorite movies? “True Grit,” “The Shooter” and “The Good, The Bad and The Ugly”
Favorite celebrities? Split between John Wayne and Clint Eastwood
Craziest hobbies? As a teenager, I used to snow ski behind a snowmobile at HIGH speeds. I’m not sure how I survived.
Greatest personal accomplishment? Meeting my wife, Theresa, and serving more than 400,000 sailors of the U.S. Navy as the Master Chief Petty Officer of the Navy.
Oddest job? Driving an armored truck.
Believe it or not? I’m ambidextrous.
What’s on your bookshelf? I’m an everyday reader. I’m always turning the pages of scripture, and have numerous other books on the shelves – I love to read! John C. Maxwell is my favorite author.
Favorite sports team? Chicago Bears fan since 1974, but for our personal safety, Theresa and I have become Steelers fans. (When in Rome…)
Pop or soda: Soda; I don’t know why.
What about you would surprise most people? I ride a Harley-Davidson.[/fusion_text][/two_third][/fullwidth][fullwidth background_color=”” background_image=”” background_parallax=”none” enable_mobile=”no” parallax_speed=”0.3″ background_repeat=”no-repeat” background_position=”left top” video_url=”” video_aspect_ratio=”16:9″ video_webm=”” video_mp4=”” video_ogv=”” video_preview_image=”” overlay_color=”” overlay_opacity=”0.5″ video_mute=”yes” video_loop=”yes” fade=”no” border_size=”0px” border_color=”” border_style=”” padding_top=”20″ padding_bottom=”20″ padding_left=”” padding_right=”” hundred_percent=”no” equal_height_columns=”no” hide_on_mobile=”no” menu_anchor=”” class=”” id=””][title size=”2″ content_align=”left” style_type=”single solid” sep_color=”” margin_top=”” margin_bottom=”” class=”” id=””]An American Success Story[/title][imageframe lightbox=”no” lightbox_image=”” style_type=”bottomshadow” hover_type=”none” bordercolor=”” bordersize=”0px” borderradius=”0″ stylecolor=”” align=”none” link=”” linktarget=”_self” animation_type=”0″ animation_direction=”down” animation_speed=”0.1″ animation_offset=”” hide_on_mobile=”no” class=”” id=””] [/imageframe][separator style_type=”none” top_margin=”25px” bottom_margin=”” sep_color=”” border_size=”” icon=”” icon_circle=”” icon_circle_color=”” width=”” alignment=”center” class=”” id=””][fusion_text]“For those who espouse the notion that the military makes you better, let Mike Stevens serve as exhibit A. This man, who came from the humblest of means, progressed quickly through the ranks and ultimately rose to the highest level that a Navy sailor can attain, that of Master Chief Petty Officer of the Navy (MCPON). As MCPON, Mike was, in effect, the people’s choice, the one chosen to represent our Navy’s 400,000 sailors. Mike served as only the 13th MCPON in the history of the United States Navy.”

 

“As MCPON, Mike Stevens uprooted sacred Navy traditions because they needed to be brought into the 21st century. History has quickly judged him well, but killing sacred cows in huge organizations means surviving a barrage of detractors who feel empowered by centuries of precedent. It’s a test of mettle most of us cannot even imagine. It requires a superhuman level of conviction steered by an unwavering moral compass. Even threats to his own health during this time didn’t deter him from his duty. I don’t think I’ve ever had as much respect for anyone as I have for this man.”

 

“Mike’s success story happens in the Navy. It happens in our military. It happens in America. But it does not happen everywhere. So for those who are disenfranchised with America for its imperfections or for the failings of its leaders, know that it is producing people like Mike Stevens. Let that give you faith in America. Let that give you faith in our military.”

 

“We are humbled and proud and totally fired up that this great man has chosen to pursue the next chapter of his legacy with us. And the military community is better off for that too.  Mike could have chosen many other places to hang his hat. He chose one that will enable him to have the highest impact on creating greater opportunities for veterans in the private sector. Because that’s who he is.”[/fusion_text][/fullwidth]

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