Our Blog

BY Brock Dudley

Am I a Development Candidate? Why?

Hello everyone, and welcome back! Two weeks ago, I wrote a blog posing the question: What are my personal and professional goals? 

Now, I am back to pose the second question in my four-question series that will hopefully help junior military officers gain more clarity on their transition out of the military. Question one was designed to help a junior military officer think about their personal and professional goals. Question two is designed to help one navigate which route to go as they consider the transition out. Some common routes are:

  1. Pursue a career in Civil service
  2. Pursue a Full-Time MBA
  3. Pursue a career in the Department of Defense
  4. Launch your Business Career

There are no wrong options in the transition, maybe just some that don’t make sense as they relate to your long-term goals.

Your leadership Advantage

Ultimately, Cameron-Brooks is option #4. Before I talk about being a development candidate, I want you to understand your leadership advantage. Regardless of where you are in this thought process, I want you to first understand your leadership advantage and why companies value your military experience. Our clients value your abilities and experience – in developing teamwork, adapting to change, exercising cross-functional leadership, improving processes, solving complex problems, managing projects, changing behaviors, counseling, and mentoring others, focusing on results, and applying a make it-happen attitude. These qualities are your leadership advantage.

Compared to those who graduated from college and have been working in business for four to eight years, you typically have more leadership experience. More and more companies see the value in hiring you for your leadership qualities and then teaching you the fundamentals of their business.

Even though there are many companies who hire junior military officers, not all companies value your military experience for the same reason. Not all companies know how to fully utilize your JMO background and therefore, it is important to ensure you get into a company who understands and values your background to avoid one of the biggest missteps in the transition: Underemployment.

What Cameron-Brooks does is help junior military officers transition and accelerate into a business career.

This is when you take a development position with a company who values your military officer experience and you start in a position that will build on top of your experience, and offers significant promotional opportunities based on performance.

The companies who offer these types of opportunities value top-caliber JMOs because of their leadership track record and leadership potential. These are extremely competitive positions to obtain, and companies look for the best of the best. While these types of positions are highly desirable, they also require the highest level of preparation and skill development.

What is a Development Candidate?

It is a term/concept Roger Cameron, one of our original founders and owners, coined in the early 1970s to help Corporate America understand why the junior military officer is an advantage to helping their organizations grow and succeed and to help JMOs understand what it will take to be successful launching a business career.

In PCS to Corporate America, Roger Cameron states, “Cameron-Brooks recruits only for development candidate positions in Corporate America, positions that will allow you to transition and accelerate.  Therefore, our clients are selective and require us to partner with officers who have the demonstrated ability and desire to grow into senior leadership positions in a company.”

Let’s look at those two words bolded and italicized.  When Roger created this Development Candidate concept with his client companies 50+ years ago, he said it takes two things to be a Development Candidate: ability and desire. He then went on to say that ability is the easy part. Ability is the track record of success over time. A JMO who has been a leader and top performer in college and in the military, demonstrated by academic success and military evaluations, can go on to a successful business career.

The more challenging part of the equation is the desire. Too many JMOs say they want to be a Development Candidate but are not willing to make the necessary investments to become one.

A Developmental Career

The development career is designed for candidates who will be future leaders in a company. While you will always fill specific jobs as a Development Candidate, the company will expose you to various functions within a corporation to develop you as a generalist. Regardless of where you start your development career, as your career progresses, the company will provide you opportunities to develop broad knowledge in finance, accounting, information technology, supply chain management, manufacturing, sales, marketing, human resources, etc. The intent of such broad knowledge is to develop your skills to be a future leader in the company. Without

these general management skills, a person cannot lead a company (just as a general or admiral cannot lead in the military without excellent knowledge of or experience in a wide variety of military functions and operations).

A Development Candidate needs to have the ability and desire to rise to the top leadership positions of leading commercial corporations (those that earn their revenue from selling or providing a product or service primarily to other businesses or consumers). As you enter the business world, it is important that you understand how you, as a commissioned officer, fit into a major corporation. Corporate America will spend a lot of time, money, expertise, and effort getting you, the Development Candidate, to the point where you can have a major impact on the direction of your company.

A Non-Developmental career

A nondevelopment career is designed for people to fill jobs in a specific area of expertise. These managers are not targeted to be the future top leaders of a company but rather are oriented toward developing an expertise in one functional area of a company. It is not that they can’t be Development Candidates but rather that their goal is to develop along the line of a specialist. Regardless of where you start your career as a Nondevelopment Candidate, your career path is designed to make you a future expert in one area of the company (engineering, IT, finance, HR, etc.).

As an example, let’s say you begin your career in finance. As your career progresses, you will learn more and more about a company’s financial structure, perhaps specializing in reporting, compliance, tax, or accounting.  As a Nondevelopment Candidate, you will stay within a specific area and not move up into positions leading other people or broadening your responsibilities like a Development Candidate would. These positions are important in any company because experts ensure that the organization executes at a high level, but the key is that functional experts rarely get promoted to lead divisions or entire companies.

I am not saying that one career path is more important than the other, but rather that they are radically different. As you consider your options in the business world, it is important that you determine the type of career that interests you. I recommend starting with the end in mind, think about your long term personal and professional goals, and work back from there.

What’s next?

Stay tuned from here! On May 28, I’ll be back with Question 3 in my 4 part series:

What are the biggest obstacles in your transition?

If you want to talk about your options or are curious about Cameron-Brooks, and how we can help, reach out to me below and we’ll get you scheduled for a personal consultation.


Brock Dudley

Principal, Transition Coach


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