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Schneider Electric Receives Military Friendly Recognitions: An Interview with Peter Shull

We are proud to announce that Schneider Electric has been awarded the Military Friendly® Employer Award and Military Friendly® Spouse Employer for our efforts in creating sustainable and meaningful career paths for veterans, as well as for our community outreach, brand enthusiasm, and enduring partnerships in support of the military community and all of the important parts of that community: the employee, the spouse, the family, the consumer, and even the supply chain.

Military Friendly® Companies are considered to be the ultimate example of organizations that are committed to enabling sustainable economic benefits and well-being for Veterans and their families. Over 1,700 organizations compete annually for Military Friendly® designations.

Mariana Gonzalez, North America Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Leader recently interviewed Peter Shull, Military and Veteran Affairs Leader, to get his perspective about these recognitions and what they mean to Schneider Electric, among other topics in connection to the veteran community.

Thank you so much for talking with us about this important topic, Peter. Let’s start by knowing more about your background. Can you tell us about how you decided to join the military and your experience serving in the armed forces?

Thanks Mariana. Great to be with you again. For me I think the decision to join the military was really a function of my early childhood influences.  There were many  people I looked up to and respected that served. So, there is no doubt in my mind that this is what persuaded me toward military service. My parents (mom and dad) and also both my grandfathers served. So, I was surrounded by images of service and the military culture.

Also, I think the thought of service and sacrifice for the greater good was instilled in me through my attendance at Catholic school from kindergarten through middle school. By the time I entered high school, I knew the military was where I wanted to be. It was what I wanted to do. Upon entering college, I was awarded a ROTC scholarship, which is a college scholarship for students who commit to serve in the military, and that set the path in stone.

Thank you for sharing that, Peter. It’s amazing how that culture of military service was deeply embedded in your upbringing. When the time came, how did you feel about transitioning to civilian life?

It was both intimidating and exciting. My entire adult life of 28 years, 32 years if you include my ROTC time (as a cadet), was spent inside the Army.  I was actually shocked how lost I felt after leaving service. It was just a very odd feeling. For years, I had identified as a soldier and suddenly, it was gone. On top of that feeling, because I had moved around every two years, I was never able to get established in a community and create relationships. So, it was a little difficult – I think the best word to use is isolation. I was no longer an active member of the military community and not around long enough in my civilian community to have formed relationships. I will get there and I am thankful for no more moves [lol]..  With that said and knowing that it just takes time, I am excited to settle down and become more a part of the community and establish myself. Fortunately, there are many folks sympathetic and supportive of veterans. Folks both at Schneider Electric and here in the community are absolutely fantastic.

I can imagine that, although change can be exciting, the transition has been difficult and it has involved an impactful life change on many levels, as you describe. Speaking about the importance of forming relationships and being part of a like-minded community, can you explain what the Veterans Employee Resource Network in Schneider Electric does and the value it offers to employees?

The Employee Resource Network (ERN) acts as a collective voice to both communicate with the company and serve as an internal support network to the members within a demographic. The ERNs are a synergistic tool that operates within the spirit of collaboration. For the veterans at Schneider Electric, it is a great way to connect quickly and navigate the organization. No matter the location or scope of work, veterans have a presence. The identity we share creates a bond that endears us toward each other.

That’s wonderful! I’m glad that the ERN has been helpful for veterans in this regard. I’m wondering when it came to decide on a company to work for, how was it that you as a veteran chose Schneider Electric?

Years before I started the transition, I identified purpose as one of the driving factors for my work after the military. Above all, I wanted my work to be meaningful. I didn’t want to just work for the sake of earning a paycheck. Fortunately, that is exactly what I found with Schneider Electric. I cannot think of a greater purpose than the mission Schneider Electric is pursuing, which is to empower all to make the most of our energy and resources, bridging progress and sustainability for all. Through our offering, we are able to improve every organization, every society we touch. In the process, we are reducing harmful emissions and conserving precious resources.

Through my work at Schneider, I’m able to contribute to a very meaningful pursuit.  A pursuit that is quite literally making a positive impact on a global scale. I like to poke fun at the fact that I spent the first part of my life in an organization chartered to use the elements of military force, which is sometimes very destructive, and now I am part of an organization that sustains and creates. To be clear, I would never change anything about my service in the US military. I am very proud of my service, my fellow service members, and my country. It’s just nice to have a career that continues to fulfill that sense of purpose.

Absolutely, and thank you for that moving response, Peter. Completely agree that purpose is at the heart of what we do and it is key to meaningful work. With respect to your role in Schneider, can you talk to us about your responsibilities as our Military Affairs and Veterans Leader?

A very simple explanation is that I act as an internal ambassador and consultant to provide strong support to the Voices of Employees That Served (VETS) ERN, and develop programs focused on retaining our veterans. Additionally, I support our talent acquisition process to assist in finding veterans to recruit.  There are over 150,000 service members leaving active duty every year. Many of those service members have technical talents that would match very well with a position in Schneider. As we grow our veteran population, our goal is to enlist their support to provide sponsorship and support to their fellow veterans. A strong support network will go a long way to influencing veterans to pick Schneider as their post-military employer. Ultimately, Schneider Electric wants to be the employer of choice. We see veterans as a value add to our mission.

Thank you for the important work you do, Peter. What are your thoughts about Schneider receiving both the Military Friendly and Military Friendly Spouse Employer Awards?

I think these awards are an incredible tribute to all veterans. It speaks to Schneider Electric’s respect for the military service members. Schneider Electric so values its veteran community that they have poured an incredible amount of resources and energy into assisting and looking out for the veteran community. Again, Schneider Electric recognizes the veteran community as a value add and they want to support in a meaningful way.

Speaking about other steps Schneider has taken to support our employees, what are some of the Schneider benefits you consider are especially helpful for veterans?

Schneider Electric offers robust support to a transitioning service member that must serve a reserve commitment. Schneider Electric offers special military paid leave when activated and/or when on a military drill. This is to prevent employees in this situation from using their regular Paid Time Off.  Also, Schneider provides access to a comprehensive health and wellness platform that drives daily well-being through healthy habits, well-being training, voluntary participation in an annual health evaluation, flu shots, health coaching and other activities supporting employee health and wellness. Veterans are accustomed to a strong culture of fitness, so this is a great benefit. Employees are also offered a health and fitness reimbursement. In the Army, we used to joke around about getting paid to work out. Well, Schneider will also pay you to stay fit! I would encourage folks to visit our website to review and find more information on the additional perks.

Learn more about career opportunities with Schneider Electric.

Great recommendation! And to wrap-up, what would you advise to fellow veterans who are transitioning to civilian life and looking for a military friendly company to work for?

Of course, I am biased, but check out Schneider Electric. They have a website dedicated to transitioning veterans. This would be a great resource to get an idea of what is out there. There are many companies that desire to hire military veterans, but not all support or create an environment like we have at Schneider. Part of what makes Schneider Electric a great place is just the culture.

Also, start the conversation early. LinkedIn is a great platform to start connecting and thinking about your transition.

Personally, I would recommend that you do not commit to buying a house in any particular area. As most veterans learned, home is where you are. I think keeping an open mind to location will allow you to take advantage of more opportunities. Though deciding where to buy a home is certainly a decision you can control, hold off until you secure work with your employer of choice. Otherwise, you may find yourself settling for less when it comes to employment.

Finally, remember that you are leaving all the systems behind that the military provided. You lived a nomadic lifestyle and the military has supported you during those previous transitions. This time, there will be no one on the other side to receive you. No unit to integrate you. No reception center to check in with. Give yourself and your family time to integrate and get settled.

Thank you again Peter for sharing your story and thoughts. Special thanks as well to the Veteran Resource Network for everything they do to support our veteran community. This is a great example of how great people make Schneider a great company and of our commitment to help all employees  feel safe and valued to contribute their best.


*The VETS ERN is not an official component of the Department of Defense or any Military Service.

**The statements made in this communication are not meant to imply endorsement by the Department of Defense or by any other US Government entity.**


About the Author

Peter Shull is the Military and Veteran Affairs Leader at Schneider Electric, and Retired from the US Army.  Peter joined the SE family on September 6, 2022, as the Military and Veteran Affairs Leader. His responsibilities are split between creating and promoting programs for an environment within SE that is military friendly and then working on creating channels for transitioning military and veterans to join the SE team.

On September 30, 2021, he retired after serving 28 years as an Infantry Officer in both conventional and special operations formations of the US Army. His service included multiple combat tours to Afghanistan and Iraq (December 2001 through September 2018) and deployments to South Korea, Pakistan, and Uganda. In the US, he served at Fort Riley, Fort Polk, Fort Leavenworth, Fort Campbell, Maxwell Air Force Base, and Fort Benning. He commanded units from platoon (38 ppl) through interagency task force composed of more than 1200 people.

Currently, Peter lives in Pennsylvania with his wife (Michelle) and two fantastic children (Derek and Parker).


About the Interviewer

Mariana Gonzalez serves as the North America Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Leader at Schneider Electric. She owns the end-to-end benchmark and deployment of DEI policies and practices, as well as works with businesses, functions, and Human Resources to execute the Diversity, Equity and Inclusion strategy and transformation. Mariana has been with Schneider Electric for over 11 years in cross-functional HR roles focused on corporate social responsibility, well-being, communication, change management and mobility. Mariana holds a Bachelor’s in Humanities and Social Sciences (cum laude) from the University of Monterrey. She is passionate about all ESG topics and serving as an agent of positive change for the benefit of our people and planet.

 


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