Why My Naval Aviation Background Primed Me For a Global Role at a Top Company

Sponsored by IBM

Heidi Hulsing

Photo courtesy of Heidi Hulsing


Veterans and those who love them make no shortage of sacrifices on behalf of this country. But one sacrifice that’s perhaps not as readily acknowledged is the obstacles both veterans and military spouses can face when building out their careers in the civilian realm. This Veteran’s Day, Fairygodboss and Getting Hired asked folks in the veteran and military family community to share the ways this identity has aided and at times impeded them professionally, as well as their No. 1 pieces of advice to fellow military community jobseekers. 

Do you believe veterans and their families should have the right to build civilian careers free of obstacles and biases? Show your support and #Pledge4VetFamilies here.


Among the transferrable skills one gains in the military? A global outlook. Just ask Heidi Hulsing, a project manager of global storage architecture at IBM.

With her military background in naval aviation, Hulsing had been seeking a way to continue utilizing her worldly perspective in a civilian career when she first joined IBM, in 2003. Today, after 14 cumulative years at the company, she continues to see evidence of how having a veteran’s perspective can be a professional asset. Recently, she shared with Fairygodboss the ways this perspective has benefited her, as well as her No. 1 piece of advice to fellow veterans who are job seeking.


Who: Heidi Hulsing

What: Program Manager, IBM

Where: Austin, Texas


How long have you been in your current role, and what were you doing previously?  

I re-joined IBM In April of 2018. I have accumulated over 14 years of experience with IBM now, and my roles have varied from Lead Financial Analyst to Acquisition Integration Project Manager to Business Operations Manager. I am very new to my current role, having just transitioned to the role of Program Manager for IBM CIO.

Do you believe your military background has provided you with any unique perspectives or talents that aid your career today? 

The military depends upon structure and process to deliver results. I would never say that kind of emphasis is needed in all cases, but I do think that process can provide needed framework to manage the challenges of business.  

What’s the first (and/or last) thing you do at work every day? 

I find it’s very important to set intentions for the day. I will prioritize what I am working on and set goals for completion. I also confirm my calendar and map out requirements for upcoming calls. 

What about outside of work — how do you most enjoy spending your time? 

I try to be a regular walker and when I have the chance, I enjoy hiking in the mountains.  

What’s the one career move you’ve made that you’re most proud of? 

I worked on a large, company-wide transformation project with an executive I admire and respect greatly. Working closely with him allowed me to understand the challenges of complex projects. I learned to see all sides of the plans, roadblocks and opportunities. Tackling a tough, multi-faceted project taught me that no task is too large with the right team and the right leadership

What’s your #1 piece of advice for women, and especially other women veterans, who are looking for jobs right now? 

I would suggest that all veterans find a trusted mentor, someone who they respect and who can give feedback. Let that person give guidance on networking, job searches, best resumes, and the candidate’s overall online presence. Don’t be shy about networking – it’s one of the most valuable tools for job seekers.