Under the Radar

Vets in Tech: Samsung's John Hendrick

BY NATHAN WERTZ - THISANDTHATTECH.COM

U.S. Army veteran, John Hendrick, is the Chief of Staff at Samsung Business Services, SEA (Samsung Electronics America), and leader of the SEA Veterans Community resource group, which focuses on engagement and outreach, volunteering, and mentorship of newly hired veterans.

John shares with us a bit about life in the military, transitioning into the workforce, his path to working at Samsung, and offers some advice to veterans who are just starting out.

Can you give us a bit of background on where you grew up and what life was like for you?

I was born and raised in a tight knit family in Philadelphia, where both of my parents worked. My father served as Superintendent of Philadelphia Prisons, which gave me lots of great stories growing up “on the inside.”

What was your military branch, positions, and years of service? Where did you serve?

I served in the U.S. Army, 95B Military Police, from 1973-1976 and achieved S4 rank before I left to go back to college on the GI Bill. During those years, I was stationed at Fort Meade Maryland (437th MP Co) and Fort Belvoir, Virginia (519th MP BN). And when I was stationed in South Korea, I was at Camp Ames (110th MP Co).

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Is there a particular reason you decided to join the military?

I went to college but was undecided on a career path. My older brother was an MP in Saigon (716th MP BN) at the time. When I decided to enlist, I chose the same MOS because of our family roots in criminal justice.

What did you learn from your time serving?

It was an interesting time to be in the U.S. Army as the Vietnam War was winding down. Soldiers were returning to a difficult environment with few of the support systems that today are in place to help returning veterans. We learned a lot as a society from that, however, and now many in the private and public sector have stepped up to help address the challenges our military face when returning to civilian life.

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(Photograph from The Guardian: Henri Huet/AP. Caption reads: "Many soldiers left Vietnam with PTSD and faced a hostile population at home.")

For example, at Samsung, we act on a strong commitment to the military community, offering a number of different support programs that help to propel professional and educational opportunities, innovate through technology partnerships, and build community for veterans & military families.

Looking back, what are your thoughts about serving now?

I loved serving and have always felt an immense pride in being a veteran. To this day it is the single most defining experience in my life and on the same plane as the pride I have in my family.

What was your path after exiting military service to your current position?

I went back to school, graduated, and bought a small house with help of the GI Bill; then got married and worked with AT&T. After that, I held positions at Blackberry and Comcast, before joining Samsung Electronics America in 2014.

What is your current position at Samsung and how do you describe your job to a layman?

My role is to help build and lead a team of highly experienced and technical professional men and women who help Samsung’s government and enterprise customers enable mobile workforces.

In the government and military, security is of utmost concern as you might anticipate, yet the modern workforce looks for flexible, personal mobility. We help our customers meet both of those needs and provide their employees with devices (mobile phones, tablets, wearables) and solutions that center on our award-winning Samsung Knox security platform.

You can also learn more about Samsung Business Services here.

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Has your experience in the military helped or hindered you in the job market?

My military experience has always been an asset in the job market. In the early years, it allowed me to show I had both education and experience. I also instantly connected with other veterans in the workplace when I was joining a new company or team.

At Samsung, my military experience and knowledge of South Korea and the Korean culture has been especially valuable in helping me assimilate, as well as quickly build relationships and trust with my Korean colleagues both here and when I am in Korea.

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(John Hendrick Sr. and John Hendrick Jr - South Korea 2015)

Any moments that come to mind where your position and/or career significantly changed? Is it plausible to have work/life balance in your field? If so, how do you manage it?

I’ve dealt with challenges over the last 35 years, but for the most part every detour taken was well worth it as I learned new things, met new people and, most importantly, got comfortable with change, which is the one constant in business.

I believe work and life balance is a choice. If you choose to have it, you will. If you just hope it will show up tomorrow, as the saying goes, tomorrow never comes. My toolkit is my annual goals list and my day-to-day to-do list, which I have constant access to. It’s my ever present reminder to balance family, work, and my community involvements.

Military.com has a lot of active duty and veteran readers that may want to someday work in your field. To get to where you are at today, what do you feel is the optimum path to travel? Any other advice for people just starting out?

Focus on growing your networking skills and building your personal network through tools like LinkedIn and personal introductions. There are also many programs and tools out there specifically designed to help veterans.

For example, in 2016, Samsung Electronics America and Samsung Austin Semiconductor committed to a five-year hiring pledge with the White House’s Joining Forces initiative. For those seeking additional education, Samsung partnered with VetsinTech and Warriors4Wireless to help transitioning veterans explore careers in coding and broadband-wireless technicians, which are growing.

My best advice is leverage what your military experience has taught you. Work hard, be helpful, and always treat people with respect.

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(Samsung Austin Semiconductor)

What's next for you at the company? Can you give us any insider information?

One of the things I am very excited about is our new employee resource group that I am helping to lead, the SEA Veterans Community. We have more than 85 veterans and family members who have signed up to help us in 2017 with 3 key focus areas: Veterans Engagement and Outreach, Volunteering, and Mentorship of Newly Hired Veterans.

The SEA Veterans Community is just one part of Samsung’s commitment to the military. Other areas we’ll continue to focus on include:

  • Empowering military spouses to pursue higher education STEM-focused careers through the National Military Family Association scholarship fund.
  • Helping military families experience the comfort of home while away from home, in partnership with Fisher House Foundation. To date, we have donated Samsung home appliances and televisions to over 25 new and existing Fisher Houses, and 300 Samsung tablets equipped with Samsung’s Knox security and a curated suite of apps tailored to the unique needs of these families.
  • Exploring mental health treatments for veterans in partnership with University of Southern California’s Dr. Skip Rizzo, such as virtual reality and resilience simulations to help prepare and prevent active duty members from acquiring PTSD from trauma.
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For more veteran job tips and resources, check out these pages on Military.com:

Veteran Job Search

Upcoming Veteran Job Fairs

Military Skills Translator

Employers Seeking Veteran Talent

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