Alumni in the Spotlight: Thomas Ian Hughes
We recently caught up with Wall Street Warfighters Foundation alum, Thomas Ian Hughes, who is a surveillance analyst with Prudential Financial’s mortgage servicing business in Texas. We asked Ian to share a few things about his military service, his thoughts about the Wall Street Warfighters Foundation and its work, and to talk about how his military experience and the WSWF program have helped him in his career.
Where did you grow up? “All over Texas really, but mostly in the ‘Hill Country’, about 45 minutes from Johnson City, Texas.”
Could you share some background on your military service? “I enlisted in the Marine Corps at age 26, shortly after 9/11. I felt compelled to do something and to stand up for something I believed in, and to be a part of something much bigger than myself. I was based in Camp Pendleton, California and served two deployments to Iraq. The first was to al Basrah and the second to Baghdad. The biggest take away from that experience is the pride in having served beside some of the greatest men and women of my generation.”
Many people are concerned with the long term impact of multiple deployments to war in Iraq and Afghanistan. What do you struggle with and (conversely) what did that experience provide that has had a positive impact on your work/life?
Mr. Hughes noted that there are always “positives” and “negatives” in any life experience. He commented that the “negatives” for him were mostly physical; he has to contend with a degenerative spine condition in his lower back. But he quickly added:
“The good outweighs the bad, and I always like to look for the positive in things. I learned a great deal about discipline, time management, work ethic, loyalty and dedication – all skills that are transferable to almost any job. And perhaps the most positive impact from that experience was to appreciate life; we need to remember how short it can be, and that it can be taken from us in a moment. This perspective has pushed me to make the most out of every day whether it is furthering my education or getting quality time with my family.”
When did you “graduate” from the Wall Street Warfighters Foundation program? “The question made me smile because it reminds me of a great comment that Brooks Hulitt [Treasurer and Vice President of the Wall Street Warfighters] made to us. He said ‘We don’t hand out certificates here. Your “diploma” is your offer letter of employment.’ I received my offer letter from Prudential in late April of 2013.”
What do you feel were the most important benefits from the Foundation’s program? How did the Foundation’s program specifically prepare you for the work you are currently doing in your career? “The program helped to broaden my knowledge of the financial services industry through experiences like visits to the Federal Reserve Bank of New York, and being able to participate in course work at Wharton. But for me the greatest thing was the resume workshops and the mock employment interviews, which boosted my confidence tremendously. It helped me let go of some of that ‘stiffness’. My work involves monitoring property performance and that requires me to discuss reasons for variances, so there is a lot of customer interaction, where I have to ask for information, explain why I need it, and get people to agree to do things they may not be happy about but still help them to feel good about doing it.”
What do you want others on “Wall Street”, and on “Main Street”, to know about the Foundation? “The talent pool of people who go through the program; it’s awesome. By the time you are in front of a recruiter you are a highly polished candidate.”
What brings you your greatest satisfaction in the work that you do? “I have a fair amount of autonomy, and it’s nice to see a job completed and well done in ways that meet your standards. I feel that I am listened to, and I have the opportunity to offer ideas. I am given the chance to change things in ways that improve our processes. The greatest satisfaction is being able to provide for my family. The work-life balance is outstanding at Prudential, as are the pay and benefits, and that allows me to take care of my family in the way that is important to me.”
How has what you learned in the Marine Corps helped you so far in your civilian career? “We talked about this earlier, but I think the ability to manage time effectively and then the discipline to do it. The Marine Corps gives you that, and it’s something many people don’t do well. I think the biggest surprise for many employers is that Marines can be “out-of-the-box” thinkers. Marines adapt and overcome. When I started working at Prudential, I realized the first thing I needed to do was to learn the process, and then learn the reasons behind the process. Once I mastered that I was in a position to suggest ways that we might improve on what we are doing. And people here have been great about that; the response is often “Go for it!”
If you were invited back to the graduating class of your high school, or your alma mater, the University of Texas, what is the most important thing you would want to say to them? “I think it would be to get out and give your best every day; it’s easy to get complacent and to forget that. But you are likely to be working side-by-side with veterans in the workplace, and if you are not giving your best, you can bet they are.”
Welcome to the Wall Street Warfighters Foundation
Wall Street Warfighters Foundation grew from the idea that given the opportunity, service-disabled veterans will excel in a work environment where integrity and moral courage are valued and where their physical challenges are not a factor.
A Message from General Peter Pace:
Our Nation asks much of her military, and is committed to improving and enriching the lives of service members who have made great sacrifice. The Wall Street Warfighters Foundation offers a unique opportunity for industry leaders to contribute to the life of a wounded warrior in a very meaningful way. We at the Wall Street Warfighters Foundation believe that America owes a tremendous debt of gratitude to those who have borne the physical and mental injuries of battle to preserve the freedoms we hold dear.
The Wall Street Warfighters Foundations is designed to mentor and train wounded warriors interested in a financial services careers and veteran employment. Our program helps service-disabled veterans realize financial security, professional satisfaction, and personal independence. Corporate partners benefit by adding proven problem solvers to their organization’s workforce, and are enriched through the mentorship and leadership opportunities the program offers.
We encourage eligible veterans and interested industry leaders to contact us and learn more about the program.
General, United States Marine Corps (Retired)
Chairman Emeritus, Wall Street Warfighters Foundation