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I am connecting what matters employee Derek Shaw

Veteran’s Day: How Military Crisis Training Influences our Fast IT Solutions

Posted 09 Nov 2020 by Liz Andert, Global Digital Marketing Manager

What does it mean to be a veteran in today’s commercial workspaces? H.B. Fuller learns from its employees as they address modern crises through strong leadership, innovation, and teamwork. From supporting rocket launch programs in the United States Air Force to IT management during the COVID-19 pandemic, our employees continue to power through unprecedented changes to provide customers with reliably fast service.

Space shuttle launch from distance

Meet Former Air Force Engineer Derek Shaw

Derek dedicated five years of service to the U.S. Air Force in the early 2000s to work on the team responsible for launching the Titan and Atlas rockets. Throughout his time in the military, he was responsible for the computer system that managed data to and from the rocket during launch countdowns. While handling this system, he helped his team successfully put 12 satellites into orbit.

Besides the launches themselves, he found work that would ultimately lead him toward a career in IT. This experience was built through years of supporting his IT department as a network engineer, a server administrator, and a cyber security program manager.

Bringing Military Expertise to H.B. Fuller

When asked about some of the most important lessons Derek took away from his time in the Air Force, he placed emphasis on effective leadership: “One aspect of leadership very important to military life is how to manage through crisis situations. The military commits a great deal of resources toward training and exercising what to do in a variety of simulated scenarios.”

His common recipe for success has five simple steps:

  1. Assess the situation. 
  2. Define a successful outcome. 
  3. Identify what resources you have available.
  4. Plan a path to success. 
  5. Execute the plan.

This training would ultimately see Derek through real crisis situations, including the September 11 terrorist attacks, protecting a rocket from a Category 5 hurricane, and overcoming a complete computer system failure during a live rocket launch countdown.

Today, Derek is responsible for H.B. Fuller’s global IT infrastructure and security. He’s since carried his training to his team, saying, “I benefit every day from the lessons I learned. The military taught me many things, including the principles of leadership, followership, teamwork, focus on results, process discipline, and integrity.”

Speed and Innovation in Unprecedented Times 

As COVID-19 continued its worldwide spread in 2020, technical solutions for remote work were necessary to maintain the speed and quality of H.B. Fuller’s services. Derek’s team was responsible for taking remote work to a scale never previously attempted, and fast. Despite the demand, however, the solution wasn’t simple. The team immediately took steps to re-route the company’s internet traffic, redesign the H.B. Fuller VPN solution to double its capacity, deploy multiple virtual conferencing solutions, and much more to keep up with remote needs throughout the company.

According to Derek, the end results were worth it. “I am extremely proud of my team, how they innovated solutions and moved quickly to enable all of our IT demands in a very short amount of time.” No matter the circumstances, H.B. Fuller is dedicated to continuing to serve customers across the world with the fastest service.

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