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Work, military service and ‘tactical patience’

Jeffrey Silverman’s story

RFP
CamoMy family, the most important thing to know about me
High stakes are a fact of my life. Clients count on me to help solve issues that put profits and jobs at risk. Impacts can be enormous — some reaching seven figures — and deadlines always loom. There’s a lot of pressure, but I try to remain calm with my team and our clients. I think they recognize the value of what I call “tactical patience,” that it’s okay to take a breath and focus on what’s the center of gravity of the situation. When anyone asks how I can do that, I explain that my perspective comes back to the experiences I’ve had.

Along with being a senior manager in Business Applications at Grant Thornton, I’m a lieutenant colonel in the U.S. Army Reserve. My current role is as commander of a military intelligence battalion of 450 people. While serving on active duty, I had important accomplishments such as being awarded a Bronze Star after leading my team to capture a terrorist cell in Iraq, preventing them from dispersing their inventory of 12 car bombs, and winning the Knowlton Award for distinction in military intelligence. However, the achievement that means the most to me was bringing my entire 400-person unit safely home on my last tour.

It’s all in how you handle the important things.

Race Judicata: fundraising for civil legal aidAdvising our government clients on analytics
CycleNation: riding for the American Heart AssociationMy command photo, posted at my unit's building
Clients who learn how my perspective was formed are assured that I’m capable of leading my team in addressing their important concerns. They are doubly confident when I describe the culture we operate from at Grant Thornton. It is centered on individuals, how our skills can be developed and how those skills raise all boats. In both the firm and the military, collaboration among individuals ranks high.

It’s a concept emphasized throughout my professional career, starting at West Point. Our leaders taught us “It’s not about you, it’s about the people you lead.” This concept is embraced at Grant Thornton. For example, at a recent firm leadership conference, our CEO asked us to introduce ourselves not just by name and what our job is, but also who we are personally. The firm recognizes that we all want to know what makes others tick and the things that inspire them.

The O’MalleysWith a new friend at the Disabled American Veterans golf tournament sponsored by the firm and the Veterans at Grant Thornton BRG
These personal sparks are what attract people to our business resource groups. The Veterans at Grant Thornton BRG, which I belong to, supercharges members’ passion for our veterans to benefit employees, external veterans and individuals transitioning out of active military duty. We focus on a wide outreach that includes partnerships with outside organizations such as the American Corporate Partners. Through ACP, I’m mentoring a young captain in monthly coaching calls. When he leaves the service, he’ll be prepared with a resume and interview skills, and familiarity with the civilian work world. With these kinds of connections, we’ve seized chances to welcome veterans into our own workforce. The firm sees this as a boon because of the valuable experience and perspectives gained.

This point of view extends to my service in the Reserve, which is actively appreciated. My colleagues basically move heaven and earth to help when there are military commitments I must attend to. The Reserve is not a small commitment; with Grant Thornton’s support, I’m able to fulfill it. Moreover, I’m able to bring this leadership experience back to my team. I think of this collaboration as a true integration of my Reserve career and my career at Grant Thornton.

Making my impact at Grant Thornton
A celebratory crowd at our Chicago office grand opening On a panel following my team's second Oracle Excellence award for innovation in cloud analytics
In both my military and civilian careers, I specialize in analytics. What I do in the Reserve, and what I did as an active-duty soldier, is military intelligence — another way of saying “analytics.” In fighting terrorism you think analytically, fit the pieces together and ultimately come up with a perspective, a best guess. The reality is that for civilian work, you take the same steps. Either way, it’s a data set that informs a course of action.

For Grant Thornton, I typically go from client to client, helping them create the “flight instruments” for their business. Turn right, turn left or pull up? Analytics helps get the decision made.

Analytics also gives me opportunities to make connections. When I meet with a client in an industry I’ve never worked in, as we discuss their particular concerns I draw parallels to industries and clients with which I have a great deal of experience. I relate it to what’s done in the military and in other industries I have familiarity — analyzing comparable situations to determine probable outcomes. Boiled down, it’s the common language of analytics.

The O’MalleysMy wife with me at Ingram's 40 Under 40 award ceremony, one of two business leader recognitions in the space of a few weeks — a 1-2 punch!
It’s a valuable language. My team’s analytics project for the U.S. Department of the Navy helps save an average of $4 million per year on aircraft carrier production. This project and others for the Navy and the Department of Energy are possible because team members are certified as trusted agents of the government and allowed access in classified spaces. The certifications resulted from my initial inroads.

My government and military associations have opened doors to clients because of shared experience, even when a company is strictly commercial. After my presentation at a conference regarding analytics used for the government, a construction company executive asked to meet with me, based on our shared service history. We developed a relationship, and now his company is a client.

I’ve been able to create and grow all these connections because of Grant Thornton’s constant encouragement to “bring your whole-self” into your job. This frees us to be passionate about what is important to us and bring this personal side to our work. Clients and potential clients respond with interest.

Making and keeping connections and commitments keep me busy. In all aspects of my life — work, military and personal — I remind myself to have tactical patience, and take a breath.