Veterans skills are often perfect fits for National Grid careers

By Dave Bertola

Wanda Fournier organized a sale of camouflage hard hats, which raised more than $6,500 for veteran-related charities.

Wanda Fournier expects the unexpected. She’s been trained to do it. And she knows how to react.

Being able to do so is among the many skills that she and other military veterans learned while serving our country, and they are skills that are directly transferable to career opportunities at National Grid.

Fournier was born in Puerto Rico and has lived in Western New York for years. While growing up, she had always felt the pull toward service.

“As the oldest of seven kids, I always felt the need to contribute; and when we came to live in the United States, I felt like I had achieved a dream,” said Fournier, who spent three years in Germany while in the Air Force. “I wanted to do my duty, to serve my country.”

Being in the military, she said, taught her about being flexible all of the time.

“One of the best things I learned from the military is that you have to be willing and able to adapt to change, and to be willing to put forth all of your efforts to do whatever is necessary,” said Fournier, a customer metering services supervisor who works in Fredonia. She said that skills honed in the military are transferable to positions at National Grid.

Jeremiah Belknap agrees. Belknap, who served 14 years in the Navy, has been part of the Air Force’s 914th Civil Engineering Squadron as a water and fuels technician since 2009.

“Those with military experience aren’t easily startled, and can make good decisions based on turbulence or noise going on around them,” said Belknap, a line supervisor in Buffalo. “The military is also about leading people in the right direction to get the job done.”

Fournier and Belknap took part in a Veterans Career Workshop that was held in Buffalo in October. They were among company representatives who talked to about 15 veterans about the types of work and range of positions needed at National Grid, and shared advice on the best way to apply and interview for positions.

“We are educating veterans about our hiring process, what they can expect, and what they need to do to succeed in interviews,” said Lissette Lugo, pipeline programs coordinator, who organized the workshop and supports National Grid talent acquisition. “In this way, we’re helping our hiring managers better understand the scope of veterans’ skills when looking at their resumes.”

As a rifleman in the Marine Corps, Charles Audette served in Mogadishu and Somalia. He joined National Grid 13 years ago. Today, he works as a lead engineer in Buffalo and focuses on transmission and distribution. When speaking with veterans at the workshop, he said that National Grid appreciates those who have served.

“We have lots of veterans in leadership positions,” he said, adding that it’s critical for veterans to include military skills on a resume or job application. “They need to be able to communicate that ,and be prepared to talk about it.”

He said that some military duties often include financial responsibilities, serving in a leadership position or working in high-stress situations. Veterans, he said, may not think to include such details when applying for jobs, but they should.

“It adds value, and it’s important to convey these to a manager or director who is hiring, especially if that person doesn’t have military experience,” he said.

When interviewing with National Grid, he recalled how he shared his life and death Marine Corps experiences.

Added Audette, “It’s not too different from what we do here when we’re running transmission and distribution in the field. I understood the consequences of operating in the Marine Corps environment where safety there, and here, is the No. 1 priority.”

2 Comments

Josh Weaver

I really appreciate Wanda’s comment which has an important subtlety of military’s determined reliability. Being flexible to a military member is about getting the job done, including the sacrifices made. Reliability can never be overemphasized. I may not know Wanda, but I know I can count on her, and I have a camo hard hat.

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Lissette Lugo

Wanda is doing a superb job in the Buffalo area and I applaud her for her dedication and support of all the veterans at National Grid and the communities we serve.

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