Veteran Transition: From Marine Corps to Sales

John Jakiun

Question and Answer Session with John Jakiun, Regional Sales Director at Bankers Life & Casualty

Interview conducted by Dr. Randy Plunkett, Director of Community and Government Outreach at - SMSgt, USAF retired

Randy: John, what did you do in the Marine Corps and directly after?  Tell me how did you end up in the Insurance business? John: I was in the United States Marine Corps for four years, and was a Communications Center Operator. My interest was always in IT, and for a few years directly after my service I worked as an IT consultant. However, in 2001 the IT industry changed radically, and I was not in agreement with the outsourcing and globalization that was occurring. As a result I decided to pursue other business ventures which led me to Bankers Life & Casualty.

Randy: Why was Bankers a good fit for you? John:  I was looking for a new career, and considered a couple different options in the business and entrepreneurial fields. In the end, I decided to attend a career briefing session and it was really what sold me on the opportunity. I knew that I was going to have to take a pay cut, and start at the bottom again no matter where I went but I was up for the challenge. I really appreciated the fact that they already had a path for success laid out. All I needed to add to their plan was my own motivation, dedication, and hard work that would allow me to get promoted. I really found a culture of stability at Bankers, and it seemed to meet both my professional and financial growth objectives.

Randy:  What skill sets did you possess that prepared you for career with Bankers? John:  What I brought to the table was my work ethic, and overall desire to succeed. I was probably the furthest candidate from having a sales career that you could find. I was an IT programmer, and definitely not much of a people person. Bankers Learning Network taught me everything I needed to be successful in this industry from education, salesmanship, and mentorship. 

Randy: What skill sets do military members and veterans need to possess in order to be successful in your industry? John: Being in the military teaches you to be flexible and adaptable, and if you find a way to work within the system, rules, and leadership, then you will be successful. The same is true for this role. One of the most important skills that you must have in order to be successful for this career is your ability to adapt and overcome obstacles combined with good problem solving skills. It is ingrained in you from day one that we solve people's unique problems on daily basis so the ability to think on your feet is crucial.  Legislation changes can also affect how we operate, but relying on your skills and being coachable is the key to success at Bankers.

Randy: What does success look like for new people? John: Be Entrepreneurial. Treat it like it's your business. This is your number one priority. Bankers provides structure, but not much oversight - so get up, go to work, and get the job done – that is a big difference from the military, 95% of the time you work unsupervised so you must be a self starter.

Randy:  Did you start with a goal or target of where you wanted to be? John: I knew I wanted to be a branch manager within 30 days. My mentor and I came up with measurable goals to help me get there. My main goal was to teach someone else the business and grow my own replacement. In past job experiences, I had a few instances with people making promises and not delivering. At Bankers you can talk to your boss at anytime and they will set up an action plan to help you get where you want to go and work through any struggles that you are up against. There is a tremendous family tree here at Bankers which is a direct result of our Management Trainee Program. Bankers helps to grow leaders from the bottom up with many successful managers who came from successful mentors.

Randy: So, in summary, why would veterans or anyone want to work at Bankers?  John:  I would say there are many reasons, but here are a few great ones:

  • First, you have the ability to control your own paycheck. It's important to me to live the lifestyle I want, and it is largely dependent on how you lay out your path to success.
  • Second, we help people with real needs every day. These folks struggle with retirement and have no clue what their long term vision is, and need help devising a plan. When I go to sleep at night I know that I am directly improving people's lives.
  • Lastly, the leadership and training at Bankers because we give agents the structure needed to achieve a rewarding career. I now get to mentor my own agents, and I've had several go on to be very successful branch managers and that is a very satisfying feeling.


Bankers Life & Casualty is growing and recruiting motivated, dedicated, outgoing professionals who are seeking a rewarding career in sales. If you think you've got what it takes to be successful and control your own paycheck Click Here to learn more and join our team today!

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