Interview with James Hammond, Co-Chair of Froedtert's Military Business Resource Group
Living by the motto "always forward," James U. Hammond is a dynamic multi-cultural leader currently working for one of the Midwest's premier health care systems, Froedtert Health. A veteran of the US Army, James is also the Co-Chair of Froedtert's Veteran & Military Business Resource Group.
We were delighted to get to know more about James and his important work with Froedtert.
What brought you into the US Army?
Went in as a Private (E-1) straight out of high school. Actually, I joined the Army at 17 before graduating high school under the Delay Entry Program. My reasons for volunteering to serve were part patriotism, part opportunity. My dad served. At a young age, I lived in poverty, but I did not know it. Though I had little, my mother taught me to be very appreciative of what we did have. As such, I felt volunteering to serve was a great opportunity to give back to my country.
What was the most formative experience for you as a leader during your tenure in the Army?
Well...one of my most formative experiences was when I served as the Executive Officer for a rapid deployment unit attached to the 3rd Armored Division. As the XO, I was responsible for ensuring my company of soldiers were ready to deploy anywhere in a matter of hours. The knowledge I obtained in the areas of strategic planning, logistics, time management, team leadership, and training was invaluable. Few opportunities arise where you become responsible for so much and the lives of so many.
If you are going to train, eat, and sleep outside for a couple of weeks in subfreezing weather, your troops had better be prepared. As the company’s training officer – I was responsible planning and executing various field training exercises throughout the year; this included weapons management/qualification of all company soldiers while maintaining the health and welfare of service-members under my chain of command.
How would you describe your post-military transition back to civilian life? How did you prepare for it? What helped you to succeed after service?
Challenging to say the least. Didn’t get much respect for what I’d done and was capable of doing. I made connections with leaders in the local community where I had planned to exit military. Initially, it was that can-do feeling that I could. As time wore on, it was pure perseverance. Continuing to seek opportunity and my desire for continuous learning were key to overcoming barriers, which led to my success.
What role has higher education played in your post-service life, both as a student and an educator?
In life, learning and growing never stops. Higher education solidified the fact that we all must never stop learning if we want to progress, to evolve. Society is constantly changing and advancing. New technology is developed daily. Whether student or educator, to succeed, you must never stop learning.
Did you utilize your GI Bill benefits?
Tell us about your current position with Froedtert, as well as your work with the Military BRG/ERG.
In my current role, I manage a team of senior workforce analysts with the strategic mandate to turn complex data into insightful information. Interdepartmentally, I serve on several leadership teams throughout the enterprise in support of patient satisfaction, diversity and inclusion, leader development and employee engagement.
As co-chair of the Froedtert Veterans/Military BRG, the goal is to support veterans internal and external to the organization. This includes providing networking opportunities, mentoring, serving as board member of Heroes for Healthcare, and bridging the gap between veterans and support organizations like the Wisconsin Veteran’s Chamber of Commerce.
How has having a developed and active Military/Veteran BRG/ERG facilitated a culture of support and growth for prior/current service members and their families at Froedtert?
Our Military/Veteran BRG continues to provide a venue where members can voice their concerns and discuss issues that are important to them. Through the BRG, veteran leaders provide coaching and mentoring to other veterans to help them achieve their career goals.
In the community, the BRG has a history of volunteering to provide care packages to those in need. One of the many great things about our MIL BRG is that is allows for inclusivity regardless of background and provides a direct line to the system’s diversity action team where leaders work to embrace and nurture multi-culturalism within the organization.
If a reader was interested in starting a Military/Veteran affinity group at their organization, where is the best place to start?
The Wisconsin Veteran Chamber of Commerce. If the Chamber doesn’t have the answer, they can connect you to someone who does.
In your opinion, what are the tenets of a solid foundation for an enduring ERG/BRG?
Tenets of a solid foundation include:
1) Have a strong mission, a purpose for being.
2) Maintain a clear vision of what the BRG/ERG will be in the future.
3) Set achievable short and long-term goals. Decide whether the BRG/ERG exists to support employee initiatives, business goals or perhaps both? This needs to be clear up front.
4) Recruit well, more specifically, recruit an “action - oriented” team. If you have more “doers” than “talkers”, a lot more can be achieved. You need the right folks to achieve challenging goals.
Where can someone get in touch to learn more about Froedtert and/or any of its veteran-serving initiatives?
Best contact at Froedtert for BRGs and how they support veteran’s initiatives would be Heidi Moore or Andres Gonzalez.
Your LinkedIn profile states that you enjoy studying/writing music, poetry, and short stories. Do you have anything you'd like to share with us?
Please feel free to Google my book, Mad Love and a Raging Bull or find one of my poetry books, An Exclamation of the Heart on Amazon. Here’s an excerpt from the poem, We Must Breathe from my book An Exclamation of the Heart:
“A rushing river breaks up even the hardest stone because every drop of water knows, persistence overcomes resistance”
If you could recommend only one book to professionals aspiring to be leaders in the civilian workforce, what would it be?
I actually have two.
1) How to Win Friends and Influence People by Dale Carnegie.
2) The 48 Laws of Power by Robert Greene.
The first teaches you how to become more effective at interacting with all kinds of people regardless of the environment. The second is more about a book of wisdom, strategy, and pitfalls to avoid as you ascend the corporate and/or political ladder.
Many thanks to Mr. James Hammond for sharing his wisdom and experiences with us! Don't forget to follow the Wisconsin Veterans Chamber of Commerce across all platforms.