Ben began basic training at the U.S. Air Force Academy two weeks after high school graduation and spent four years there studying mechanical engineering. In his first assignment, he was assigned to Tinker Air Force Base in Oklahoma City supporting the maintenance and upkeep of several types of bomber and refueler aircraft. From there, he was assigned to Hanscom Air Force base just outside of Boston managing various electronics and intelligence systems. Ben separated as a Captain after six years to pursue an MBA at Cornell, graduated, and began his career at Praxair as an associate in the Treasury Department. Once he was situated, he joined the Air Force reserves where he served an additional four years. Here Ben discusses how the military helped shape his career at Praxair.
My military background has served me in different ways at different points in my career. When I was applying for jobs, Praxair stood out because of its discipline in terms of safety, operations and integrity – all principles that I valued from the military. Additionally, Praxair may be a large and global company but it also has the heart of a small company in many respects. There’s a sense of unity here that is similar to the camaraderie you often see in the military.
As I began to grow my career at Praxair, I found myself taking on roles and leadership positions where I had little prior experience in that specific discipline. However, military training taught me self-confidence which allowed me to persevere and really leverage other experiences I could build upon while learning about all the aspects that make Praxair run day to day. I also found myself being exposed to many of the different geographies where Praxair operates. My military experiences taught me how to adapt to different cultures and geographies which was beneficial in many different settings. For example, when it came time to balance between negotiating complex commercial contracts with our Asian customers or managing a set of operations spread across many regions in the U.S. or leading an organization in Latin America.
Certainly throughout my career I have been able to look to experiences from the military which have helped me to become a more effective leader. While leading in the military and business does have its differences, many fundamentals remain the same. They include developing mutual trust and respect, engaging and motivating a team towards a common goal and even how to positively influence others who may not be directly part of your organization.
My military experience has benefitted me in many different ways and I am enormously grateful that so many of those experiences have been able to translate to my career here at Praxair.
There's a sense of unity here that is similar to the camaraderie you often see in the military.