May 1, 2024


From the Barracks to the Boardroom: 10 Ways the Military Prepared Me for Corporate Life

By: Remso Martinez

Transitioning from military service to a civilian career can seem daunting. However, the skills and experiences gained in the military, such as my time as a soldier in the US Army National Guard, have laid a robust foundation for success in my corporate life. 

Here are ten invaluable lessons the military instilled in me: 

Leadership Under Pressure 

As an Infantry officer commissioned upon graduating from Marion Military Institute in 2015, leading in high-stakes situations became second nature to me— and by that I mean having to figure out things you don’t understand with scarce resources, limited time, and a superior officer whose wrath you fear more than God’s sometimes. 

The military taught me to make critical decisions swiftly and confidently under pressure—a skill that translates directly to handling high-pressure business decisions and leadership roles in a corporate setting. 

Teamwork and Collaboration 

The military is the ultimate test of teamwork. Serving in my first unit as a fresh butter bar, I learned that success hinges on the ability to work closely with others, often in challenging conditions. You don’t get to complain about your co-workers, there is no HR, so your ability to find a way to work with people you sometimes find difficult is entirely up to you. 

This experience was invaluable for collaborating across departments later on, understanding team dynamics, and driving collective success in a company. 

Adaptability and Flexibility 

Being activated for State of Emergency missions, including natural disasters and significant events like the 2016 Presidential Inauguration, those moments taught me to be adaptable and flexible. In corporate life, the ability to pivot quickly in response to changing market conditions or internal challenges is crucial for staying ahead. 

Strategic Planning 

Military operations require meticulous planning and strategy—a skill that’s directly applicable to corporate project management. Understanding how to set objectives, allocate resources effectively, and anticipate potential obstacles has been pivotal in executing business strategies. 

To this day, I still plan marketing strategies and campaigns the same way I planned mock exercises and training operations, if it works, it works. 

Communication Skills 

Clear, concise communication is critical in the military, especially when relaying orders or coordinating actions under stress. These communication skills have been equally important in corporate life, ensuring that projects stay on track and teams remain aligned with company goals. 

Talking less, being selective with my words, and being an active listener sometimes meant the difference between mission success, or mission failure. 

Integrity and Accountability 

The military instills a strong sense of integrity and accountability. This foundation of trust is essential in the corporate world, where ethical decision-making and taking responsibility for one’s actions are paramount to building and maintaining professional relationships. 

I can’t say everyone I worked with in uniform was perfect, but it was as close to in any working environment because the standards set from the beginning were so high. 

Discipline and Time Management 

The structured environment of the military hones personal discipline and time management. These habits have made transitioning to the corporate world smoother, enabling me to meet deadlines, manage multiple projects, and maintain a high level of productivity. 

I can’t say I wake up every morning for 5am PT or put hospital corners in my bedsheets, but it did at least teach me to be on time. 

Problem-Solving Skills 

Facing and overcoming obstacles is a routine part of military life. This ingrained problem-solving approach has been beneficial for tackling complex business challenges, thinking creatively, and finding effective solutions in corporate roles.

It amazes me today how people will encounter one obstacle or challenge and completely break down. Someone once said that in battle, “the first casualty is a good plan.” Hard to disagree with that one. 

Security and Confidentiality 

Obtaining and holding a SCI clearance issued by the Department of Defense underscored the importance of security and confidentiality. In corporate life, handling sensitive information with discretion and integrity is crucial, especially in industries where data security is paramount. 

How you carry on in your personal life directly impacted your life as a soldier, this became something that followed me into my civilian careers, especially balancing being a part-time soldier. 


Perhaps most importantly, the military taught me resilience—the ability to face setbacks, adapt, and persevere. This resilience has been a guiding force in my corporate career, helping me navigate challenges and stay focused on long-term goals. 

I dealt with issues such as soldier suicide, soldier on soldier sexual harrasment, men and women encountering wartime PTSD, and even mission failures that resulted in loss of life. 

You can’t control every situation or their outcomes, but you absolutely must control how you handle them. 

Swapped ACUs for Black Ties 

The transition from military to corporate life, especially for those who served active duty, is a journey of applying hard-earned skills in a new context. My military service didn’t just prepare me for a successful career in business; it provided a unique perspective and a set of values that have been instrumental in navigating every aspect of life.