It's an honor to interview you about your military service, Frank. How do you think Veterans benefit IT companies?
Veterans, just like athletes who play team sports, understand the value of the team and that each player must understand their particular role. Veterans also know that to be a good leader, you must be a good follower as well – and know when to lead and when to follow. These traits are vital to the success of companies and their growth.
Could you tell me a little bit about what you do for Computer Aid, Inc?
I am the primary advisor to the CFO and CEO on tax matters related to CAI and all of it's related companies here in the United States and those overseas. I get involved with tax research and planning related to all of CAI's related companies to ensure we file tax returns, comply with the law, and use the law to save the company tax dollars where and when appropriate. The taxes include federal, state, local and foreign corporate income, payroll, and sales and value added taxes. I also coordinate and/or review the annual financial statement audits of CAI's subsidiaries in the United Kingdom, Singapore, Philippines and provide tax advice and support to Associates on short or long-term international assignments. I also prepare with the tax filings related to CAI's 401k and benefits.
How, do you feel, did the military prepare you for your current position? What skills were you able to draw from your experiences in the service to your job?
First and foremost, as Army Officers, we're taught to think creatively on our feet to find solutions to problems. Almost every day an email or phone call comes to me that deals with finding a solution to a problem or question where the buck stops with me. Secondly, Officers are taught take care of their people. Many of the issues I deal with directly or indirectly relate to supporting CAI Associates, either those within Corporate Finance, those in the Regions, and those overseas. Finally, I learned the importance of knowing the people who you lead. In one assignment which had many problems, every morning I would walk around the office and talk to my people which were civilian employees. I not only learned about their families and their vacation plans, but I also learned about the biggest problems in the organization. It helped me prioritize my efforts and it also built loyalty and trust, two keys to leadership. Almost every day while at CAI, I take a walk around the office and talk to people in the CFA staff for the same reasons.
Do you think that the corporate world (IT/Governance) could learn a thing or two from the military? Do you think the opposite is true as well? If so, what?
All the military services focus on developing and educating the Officers and Enlisted persons for growth in both technical and leadership skills. To get promoted, there are clearly defined formal military training and education that is required. It's part of the culture that you must continually improve through military and civilian education and more demanding assignments. I believe the best corporations know this and embrace this type of culture.
Did your military background give you an advantage in succeeding in business?
Certainly. Looking back, my military background made me a broader person and gave me the opportunity to lead people at a young age. It gave me the opportunity to travel and meet people from different cultures that I can apply to my work today. It also makes me a team player, putting the organization ahead of myself -characteristics I believe helps drive success. The military gave me the opportunity to do things that I never could have imagined. For example, in Sarajevo, I ran a 40 person multi-national Donor Conference to coordinate cash and in-kind support for the re-establishment of the Bosnian National Statistics Bureau. There were representatives from the national statistics agencies of Bosnia (Serbs, Croats, and Bosnians), Italy, Sweden, Switzerland, Greece, and Portugal. After running that meeting, all others are easy.
Tell me about your time in the military
I served a combined total of 22 years active duty and reserve time with the U.S. Army. Approximately 5 ½ years was on active duty. Immediately out of college, I was sent to Wiesbaden, Germany assigned as a Finance Officer with the 7th Finance Section at Wiesbaden Air Base. During my three years there, I had a number of assignments. My first job was as Disbursing Officer responsible for controlling all cash paid out in support of the 10,000 Army personnel in the Wiesbaden and Mainz military communities. I was also tasked as the Fund Control Officer of the U.S. Military team supporting Pope John Paul's Mass at Mainz-Finthen Army Airfield in November 1980. My role was to ensure all costs incurred by the U.S military for aircraft relocation, security, and explosives clearance were billed to the Archdiocese of Mainz. Other assignments while in Germany were as Central Accounting Officer responsible for accounting for the Officer and NCO clubs, the Bowling Center, and similar organizations, Military Pay Officer, and as Officer-in-Charge of a Forward Support Team in Mainz, Germany. When I returned to the United States, I was assigned to the Armament Research & Development Center in Dover, NJ. I was assigned as the Operations Officer for the SGT York Weapons System Contract Cost Projection Team. In this role, I provided support to engineering teams working around the country to project the cost of the SGT York anti-aircraft system at government vendors such as Westinghouse, Ford, Garrett, and Hughes. Later as a reservist, I served withthe 79th Army Reserve Command in Norristown, was an Executive Officer for the 453rd Finance Battalion in New Cumberland, and the 358th Civil Affairs Brigade in Norristown. While with the 358th Civil Affairs Brigade, I deployed from1998 to 1999 with the unit to Sarajevo, Bosnia as part of NATO's multi-national peacekeeping force. During the deployment, I was assigned as an Economic Advisor to the Office of the High Representative (OHR). OHR was the organization established as part of the Dayton Peace Agreement to implement the civil aspects of the peace treaty signed by the Croats, Bosnians, and Serbs that ended the three year Bosnian civil war. My specific responsibilities were 1) to help re-establish the country's census bureau 2) to work on labor law reform, and 3) to coordinate intra-country taxation matters.
What parallels can you draw between your time in the military and the work you do now?
There are many parallels – First, in my role as Tax Director, I am responsible for a great deal of sensitive/confidential data. As an Army Officer, there were many times I had access to secret and need-to-know information that I was entrusted with. Second, with regard to payroll: as Military Pay Officer, I was responsible for the pay of 10,000 soldiers. Here at CAI we have over 1,200 employees – I can relate to our payroll department's issues and employees problems as well. Third, I lived overseas for almost four years: three years in Germany and almost eight months in Sarajevo. As a reservist, I was in-charge of civil affairs support to military projects in Central and South America and the Caribbean basin. Those experiences provide me with a sense of cultural sensitivity relating to my dealings with people in the countries CAI operates. It also helps me understand the issues related to CAI personnel that must travel overseas for short or long-term assignments.
Being a veteran yourself, how do you plan to observe Memorial Day?
I attend the Memorial Day ceremony in Bethlehem, call my Uncle in Florida who served in World War II as Artilleryman in Germany, and then visit my Dad's grave. He served with the Army Security Agency in the Korean War. I and the rest of the AITS staff would like to thank Frank both for this interview and, more importantly, for his service to our country. We also thank all of our readers who served and continue to serve the United States.