IT and Business Insights for SMB Solution Providers

Hiring Veterans Is a Winning Strategy for the Channel

Fortinet and TrainOurTroops collaborate to help military veterans transition to the workforce with cybersecurity skills and more. By Colleen Frye

Security vendor Fortinet and the nonprofit organization TrainOurTroops share a common mission: provide the small boost in skills U.S. military veterans need to successfully transition to the civilian workforce.

Through a recently announced collaboration, Fortinet will be providing its training academy program free of charge on the TrainOurTroops portal.

TrainOurTroops, an all-volunteer organization, provides veterans and their spouses with advanced online training and certifications in business solutions such as customer experience, customer service, strategic thinking and modeling, and more, and also offers interview prep courses. It was founded by entrepreneur Glen Brynteson, whose father was an Army Ranger and served in the military for 40 years.

Sean Lardo

The nonprofit initially focused on leadership and management, but IT education and the channel have become a growing emphasis, according to Sean Lardo, an advisory board member and vice president of partner development at OIT, a VoIP and unified communications provider. All courses are offered free of charge through its portal, which was donated and developed by channel management vendor Zift Solutions.

“They've already served the country,” says Lardo, a veteran himself. “We want them to have every opportunity to succeed.” Making the transition to the workforce from the military can be difficult, he says. “I remember how challenging it was for me, and this is something that's not really talked about.”

Through their military training, veterans “develop people skills, development skills, training skills, leadership, logistics. All these things are all applicable in the real world,” Lardo says. In addition, he says, “When you bring a veteran in [to the civilian workforce], you bring in a discipline, a drive. We're taught to adapt and overcome and be resourceful.”

Kevin Hospodar, a TrainOurTroops advisory board member and head of marketing at Steady State Media, says the IT channel space aligns with the careers of some of the nonprofit’s volunteers. “That's where the cybersecurity piece came into,” he says, “but our training is wide and broad. And the thing that's unique about us is that it's not just for the veterans, but it's also for their spouses and their dependents. Because we've seen that it's not just someone coming out of the service that has maybe sacrificed years of professional experience, or needs that help getting upskilled, but it's also their family and their support system around them. We're finding there are just short little gaps that we need to fill with veterans … they just need that extra 5% to help get them there.”

Robert Rashotte

For its part, Fortinet has a history of being a learning organization through its Network Security Experts (NSE) Institute, which comprises the NSE Certification program, Fortinet Network Security Academy (FNSA), and the Fortinet Veterans (FortiVet) program, and has been working to close the cybersecurity skills gap and address the talent shortage.

“Fortinet's approach to training was very similar to other companies in that we're a vendor and we build training that teaches people how to use our products,” says Robert Rashotte, vice president of training and sales enablement at Fortinet. “But as we all know, the cybersecurity skills gap has become a much bigger problem than just teaching people how to use products. And our CEO is a real champion working with organizations like the World Economic Forum, and so on, in trying to figure out, from a bigger picture, how do we address closing the cybersecurity skills gap.”

As a result, Rashotte says Fortinet’s training programs have evolved dramatically beyond product training to include general cybersecurity awareness and targeting people transitioning into new careers. “The FortiVet program is the perfect example of that … it truly is the perfect example of a win-win.”

About the Author

Colleen Frye's picture

Colleen Frye is ChannelPro's managing editor.

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