CHS updates

Hiring Our Heroes participants join CHS full-time

Four men standing by sign

CHS Hiring Our Heroes participants, from left, Capt. Alexander Owens, Master Sgt. Matthew Michels, Capt. Tyler Thibert and Capt. Thomas Brown, successfully completed the three-month work experience program in late March 2024.

Mar 28, 2024

By Matthew Wilde

Four military members graduated with honors – and job offers – from the CHS Hiring our Heroes program.

Hiring Our Heroes (HOH) is a 12-week program that gives service members civilian work experience during their last 180 days of service, which can lead to full-time employment. The HOH cohort culminated March 27, 2024, with a virtual graduation ceremony.

Jessi Sletten, vice president of talent acquisition and human resources operations with CHS, says all four participants have accepted job offers with CHS to begin once they are discharged from the military.

  • Capt. Thomas Brown, a U.S. Army military intelligence officer, will be an IT (information technology) project management specialist.
  • Capt. Alexander Owens, a U.S. Army field artillery officer and logistics finance director, will be a senior business intelligence analyst.
  • Capt. Tyler Thibert, a U.S. Air Force cyber defense operator and integrated team leader, will be a senior project manager specialist.
  • Master Sgt. Matthew Michels, a U.S. Air Force air transportation training course director, will be a senior learning and development specialist for transportation.

“All of the service members exceeded our expectations and were offered jobs, which is the goal of the program,” Sletten says. “Their dedication, strong work ethic, problem solving capabilities and team mentality – all traits and skills instilled in the military – will continue to be an asset at CHS.”

CHS partners with SkillBridge, a U.S. Department of Defense initiative, and its authorized service provider, HOH, to give veterans industry training, apprenticeships or fellowships. Through the collaboration, CHS gains access to a diverse pipeline of highly skilled potential employees, while building partnerships and trust to enable equity and allyship. CHS works directly with HOH to find military candidates and assist with program administration.

“The program is mutually beneficial for CHS and the fellows as they are transitioning from active military roles to new career opportunities,” says Tracey Ellis, CHS talent acquisition director.

CHS plans to continue the HOH fellowships with another cohort in May 2024. The four fellows from the first cohort plan to serve as mentors for fellows in future CHS Hiring Our Heroes cohorts.

Seizing opportunity

Brown says the opportunity to work for CHS was too good to pass up. He and his family will move to the Minneapolis area from Italy, where he was last stationed.

He says the welcoming environment and opportunity to thrive at CHS convinced him to stay.

“Everyone was extremely patient and helpful and said they wanted me to succeed,” Brown explains. “I was blown away with the quality of people at CHS. When I got here, I could hit the ground running.”

The nine-year military veteran says he wanted his civilian career to be as fulfilling as his time in the military. He found that fulfillment working in IT at CHS.

“I learned a lot about myself during the internship – identifying strengths I wasn’t aware I had and areas of weakness to work on,” Brown says. “I enjoy challenges, which this job provides.”

Leveraging skills

Each manager working with HOH participants spoke highly of the fellows and the program during the graduation ceremony. Yvonne Kearney, senior director of IT with CHS and Brown’s supervisor, says he quickly became a valuable part of the program team of a large SAP (system application and products) energy implementation for the CHS Energy business. Brown started to lead a subproject for the SAP Energy implementation during his fellowship.

“The multi-year implementation is extremely complex,” she says. “It involves close to 400 resources – business and IT – and being asked to be part of it and add value is like drinking from a firehose. Thomas approached it with extreme professionalism and improved his knowledge of CHS business and IT processes every day.

“Thomas applied his leadership and project management skills, working through ambiguity and demonstrated his learning agility, which earned the trust and respect of his colleagues,” she adds. “I’m thrilled to have Thomas join our team and I’m looking forward to future opportunities with the Hiring Our Heroes program.”