Our ZEO culture is one of the things we’re proudest about at Zuora. What’s a ZEO? Each and every Zuora employee is a ZEO, empowered to be their own CEO, to forge their path at Zuora and beyond. We respect all of our ZEOs and the varied backgrounds that they bring to Zuora. It’s the blending of these different life experiences, personalities, and skill sets that makes Zuora thrive, and makes it such an amazing workplace.
At Zuora, we are focused on how the company—and all of its 1000+ ZEOs—can best support diversity and inclusion and have a great social impact. We already prioritize philanthropy, from packaging meals for hungry families across the globe in support of the Feed the Hunger Foundation to cleaning up the Pacific coast line in partnership with Pacifica Beach Coalition. And we prioritize diversity and inclusion, represented by our motto (and the programs that power it) #SubscribeToDiversity.
But there’s more work to be done.
Which is why we’re so honored to be sponsoring this year’s Continuum Veterans Foundation Event on September 13th in Sewickley, PA, the proceeds of which will benefit Hire Heroes USA to support creating job opportunities for U.S. military veterans and their spouses.
Hire Heroes USA is the leading nonprofit organization dedicated to providing free and effective employment services to transitioning military members, veterans and military spouses, while bridging the gap between these men and women and the employers who want to hire them.
“Zuora is invested in the positive development of the IT workforce. Helping Veterans find employment when they return home is an important cause and we are honored to partner with Continuum on this event,” said Marc Diouane, President of Zuora.
ZEO VETERANS: MEET LEE MISH AND TOM SILVA
We are also honored to recognize two ZEO veterans in our midst: Lee Mish, Regional Vice President at Zuora / RevPro in Boston, MA and Tom Silva, Enterprise Account Executive at Zuora in San Francisco, CA.
We spoke with Lee and Tom to find out a bit about their experience transitioning from the military, their thoughts on available services and support for veterans, and the surprising similarities between the military and high tech.
Lee has been at Zuora for 3.5 years. But he wasn’t always in Enterprise Sales Leadership. Lee started his career in the US Army, where a three-year tour turned into a 15 year military career as a Special Agent + US Army Warrant Officer and, prior to that, a M1A1 Armor Crew Member. Leaving the military (because of injuries and a growing family), Lee earned MA degrees in Criminology, Business Leadership, and Human Resources Management/Personnel Administration, General before finding a home in tech.
Tom took a different path to Zuora. After graduating from Princeton with a Civil Engineering degree, he entered the professional world, starting as a Research Engineer and working his way up to a Director of Finance role. But after the events of September 11, 2001, he felt compelled to put his career and plans for business school on hold in order to serve our nation in a time of conflict. In the summer of 2002, he joined the Army Special Forces, serving as Green Beret non-commissioned officer until 2008.
While deciding whether to make a career out of the military, Tom met his now-wife and realized he wanted a more stable family life. He left the military and, after completing business school at Wharton, he re-entered the technology sector in a variety of sales and sales leadership roles (a natural fit for someone who’d grown up in the Bay Area!) before landing at Zuora 2 years ago.
FROM MILITARY TO TECH: CAMARADERIE AND THE OCCASIONAL ADRENALINE RUSH!
The mission of Hire Heroes rings true for Lee who is greatly appreciative of the Veteran’s program at his first job out of the military. Thanks to the support he received, a 2-3 year job turned into a career. And while tech sales might seem like an odd choice for a career military man, there are some interesting overaps.
Says Lee, “A lot of military guys miss the excitement. And it’s not like a sale can ever really compare to the military in terms of adrenaline. But there is a definite rush when you close deals and get big wins for the company — not to mention the rush of our recent IPO! Plus the culture of teamwork and camaraderie within our sales team feels very familiar and comfortable.”
TRANSITIONING TO THE PRIVATE SECTOR: TRANSLATING WORK EXPERIENCES
Tom also commented on the transition, “Going from the military to the private sector isn’t exactly the smoothest road. People underestimate it. When you talk to veterans fresh out of deployment, it can be really raw in terms of their transition.”
Tom had the benefit of working in the private sector prior to his service so he knew what to expect, but for veterans whose whole careers have been in the military, the transition can be daunting.
One of the biggest challenges can be translating what you’ve done in the military into the business world. As Tom notes, “In the military, you get indoctrinated into terminology. You need to learn that doing X in the military means Y in the business world, like working with Generals translates into experience with executive teams.”
Lee faced some hard challenges making the shift from Afghanistan to tech. “In fact, even 8 years later, it still continues to be a challenge every day.”
For example, as Lee says, “In the military you manage folks differently. In the military, leaders are completely honest and direct. You get a lot of direct feedback and things aren’t sugar-coated. Fortunately this style of communication works within our transparent and direct Zuora culture—but it doesn’t always translate so well to civilian life.”
On the positive side, Tom relays how lessons learned in the military are relevant to jobs in the private sector, particularly in high tech: “When you’re in sales in a fast-moving tech environment, you don’t always have all the info you want or need, but you can still put together a plan to move forward. You learn how to deal with imperfect information and setbacks, and the importance of recovering and adjusting quickly.”
FINDING THE SUPPORT YOU NEED
According to both Tom and Lee, Veteran support groups are crucial to making transition easier and helping veterans adjust.
As Tom notes, “This type of organization is indicative of all of the support that’s out there. And that’s terrific to see. My message to veterans would be to know that there is this support, that people want to help, and can help—and don’t be afraid to ask for help.”
Lee agrees, “I feel lucky that, since leaving the service in 2010, there are now a lot of groups out there like Hire Heroes USA, and companies like Continuum and Zuora that support veterans as well. This means a lot to all kinds of veterans, from people who served active duty to the next generation, like children of Vietnam vets.”
Our most heartfelt gratitude to Lee and Tom for their service to our country and for their ongoing contributions to Zuora. It’s ZEOs like you who make Zuora such a special place to work.