From Green Beret to Entrepreneur – Why I Started MilSpec Capital

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My name is Freddie Kim, and I am a Veteran. Since I was 17, all I knew was the military. My career started out as a young cadet at West Point in 2000 and over the next 14 years, I was given the opportunity to lead Paratroopers and Green Berets in combat, both in the Philippines and Afghanistan. I became intimately familiar with the specifics of leadership and military training such as strategic and operational planning, small unit tactics, military decision making, weapons system capabilities, team building, and working with foreign armies. But as time came to prepare for my discharge from the Army in October of 2013, I was lost. I was unsure how to go forth into the “real world” because I had no clue how to fit in. All I had were a few medals, two weeks of TAP training (ha!), and a newlywed wife who was willing to step out "into the wild" with me — my umbilical cord to the Army was soon to be cut!

During the next few years, I ended up in some great opportunities through some amazing contacts and recruiters; I gained phenomenal operational experience running a small company and later oversaw LEAN operations for a larger manufacturing company, but I eventually realized that I was not happy with what I was doing. The realities of civilian life did not come anywhere close to meeting my expectations.

Someone once said that life was a marathon, but I felt that I was sprinting non-stop in a race that I wasn’t interested running, heading into the opposite direction of where I wanted to go. In my last role in manufacturing, the situation turned sour with the change of management, and I was eventually let go. At that point, four years out of the military, I still lacked direction in my career and even regretted leaving my straightforward Army life.

Then, however, I was pursing my MBA at the Kellogg School of Management, I began to grasp how large the world was, and that there was no “one-size fits all” approach like the linear career paths in the military. Civilians and Veterans should pursue whatever interests them and those curiosities will eventually lead to successful careers! During my two years, I gained the much needed exposure in business by surrounding myself with Executives with anywhere from 15 to 35+ years of professional experience. From consulting to marketing, healthcare to oil and gas, finance to accounting, my immediate network of 250+ diverse professionals deeply widened my aperture of viewing the world and how Veterans can be tremendous value-add… and I saw how the pieces were starting to fit.

From my personal experiences, I recalled how my infantry soldiers were extremely resourceful and were able to survive in the most desolate parts of a heavily Taliban-inhabited part of Afghanistan, to conduct 24/7 counterinsurgency operations. I remembered how my Special Forces team was able to build an entire Forward Operating Base from the ground up, to plan and execute operations in an ambiguous environment, to train 300+ Afghans to be the Local Police forces. And how we were later able to relocate to the opposite end of the country to spearhead US efforts to quell a popular uprising on a critical piece of terrain, then also convert the rogue players to join the Government of Afghanistan and fight against the Taliban!

These types of experiences were what made Veterans valuable to Corporate America— Veterans have the Leadership competencies to make complex decisions, plan and manage execution, take initiative, optimize diverse talent, and be super adaptable to changing conditions. These skills are difficult to teach and develop in others, but they can be mastered through exposure in the front lines of combat, by being baptized by fire. And once Veterans gain the required technical skills and the business acumen from the private sector, we would be an unstoppable force.

This segment of Veterans are who we aim to serve at MilSpec Capital: experienced professional Veterans who have a solid experience base of Leadership and also a track record of success in business. They may be mid-to-senior level folks, but these are the types of people who have the technical expertise, and also the Leadership competencies, to energize a work place and inspire others naturally. And these are the Leaders that the private sector so desperately needs to fill their management bench.

At MilSpec Capital, we give companies the opportunity to connect with a pipeline of exceptional Veteran Leaders. Our goal is to reduce your risk in hiring Veterans, and we do so by providing you Veteran talent that knows their industries and their niches in business. What makes them special is that they have the Leadership to be true champions of culture in your organization. Your opportunities also allow Veterans to advance in their careers, to further refine their passions outside the military, and be a true asset to your company and society at large.