In honor of Veterans Day, we sat down to interview a few of our SVN military veterans to learn more about their background and why they believe the commercial real estate industry was a good match for them.
John Rickert, Executive Managing Director of SVN | RICORE Investment Management, Inc. in Cincinnati, Ohio, served in the United States Army as First Lieutenant and Scout Helicopter Pilot. Rickert’s firm, SVN | RICORE, is a financial sponsor of the Easter Seals OVT fundraiser at the ATP Tournament (Association of Tennis Professionals), a signature event in the Cincinnati area. OVT assists enlisted military personnel with services to help them transition into productive civilian lives.
John’s military background:
“My father drove a truck and my mother was a dental office receptionist in Wapakoneta, Ohio. The only way I could afford to go to college was with 100 percent financial aid (debt or scholarships). I was made aware of the United States Army ROTC program as an option to pay for my college education. I applied to the University of Richmond Virginia and was subsequently selected as an ROTC cadet.
“Upon graduation, I was commissioned into the United States Army as a Second Lieutenant in the Aviation Branch. My Officer Basic Course (OBC) and aviation training occurred at Fort Rucker, Ala. After flight school, I served approximately six years in the 107th Armored Cavalry Regiment in the Ohio National Guard as a Scout Helicopter Pilot and Platoon Leader. I was never deployed.”
What attracted you to the Army?
“Like many people, my attraction to a career in the military was a combination of patriotism, financial necessity and opportunity. I am convinced that the United States is unique in the world and that it is a privilege to be a United States citizen. I continue to believe that we all have a duty to one another to help preserve our collective safety, maintain our civil liberties, and to protect the opportunity to live our lives based on individual determination.
“The ROTC scholarship program was the only way I could attend a highly rated private college without incurring an extraordinary amount of debt. Between ROTC, my time on active duty and the National Guard service following active duty, I was provided outstanding academic, leadership and managerial training.”
What brought you from the army to commercial real estate?
“My transition from active duty life to service in the National Guard was unique to the late 1980’s. A budget cut bill passed in 1987 and ROTC scholarship graduates were offered the opportunity to complete the mandatory six years of military service in the National Guard or Reserves as opposed to active duty. I wanted to serve in the National Guard. In the process of looking for a guard unit to, in effect, ‘hire’ me, I found the 107th Armored Cavalry Regiment in Columbus, Ohio. Once I was in Columbus, I found my first civilian job as an Assistant Property Manager with Hines Interests Limited Partnership.”
What military-training skills do you think are transferable to a successful CRE career?
“Military officers tend to be extremely well organized, have exceptional attention to detail, a strong sense of loyalty and duty, and understand at a cellular level the need to successfully accomplish whatever task is in front of them. The United States military officer corps is a driven group of people that value success, accomplishment and honor. All of these skills lend themselves to a successful career in commercial real estate.
“I think it’s important to discuss military field training in the context of skill sets and mind set. The military skill set of getting ordinance onto a target is thankfully not transferable to the civilian environment. However, maintaining comportment and perspective is. Most military personnel have a much broader definition of adversity and sacrifice than many of our non-military peers. We were frequently tasked with successfully completing mentally and physically demanding tasks in environments that included extreme heat or cold, pouring rain or choking dust, and we were hungry, thirsty and sleep deprived most of the time. Most of our field problems involved being provided with limited and imperfect information, and included multiple distractions and false leads. In this environment, the value of the team becomes clear and the bond between team members is unbreakable.
“Lastly, everyone’s blood is red. My experience with military personnel was diverse; all genders, ethnicities and religious orientations. The danger in training is not as intense as combat, but it’s real. The equipment is big, the training challenges are complex and the training environment is adverse. It’s an ideal place to learn that everyone has extraordinary capacity to contribute, and that working together maximizes our effectiveness. I have often thought that compulsory military service would be a way to ease some of our diversity tensions in the United States.
“Attributes such as staying organized and overcoming setbacks despite incomplete information, and physical discomfort, coupled with maintaining a positive attitude, being self-reliant, developing teams, treating people with respect and helping everyone make their best contribution, works just as well in business as it does in the military.”
How does the culture of SVN resonate with the culture/values in the military?
“This is a great question and the answer lies with SVN’s Core Covenants. SVN’s culture emphases creating value not only for our clients and colleagues but also for our community. We are required to put our client’s interests above our own. Our covenants speak to technical competence, being personally responsible for outcomes, honoring our commitments and resolving conflicts quickly, positively and effectively.
“These core values are good life and business practices whether the person is pursuing a career in commercial real estate or the United States Armed Services.”
Why would commercial real estate be a good career choice for a military veteran?
“I don’t want to over generalize, but many people that are attracted to the military tend to be competitive, driven, intelligent, high energy, team oriented people. Many of the really successful business organizations I come in contact with, share these same characteristics and values.
“When the diversity of tasks and job experience of commercial real estate is juxtaposed with the driven nature of the military personality, the fit is natural.”
If you are currently in the military or a veteran and considering a career in commercial real estate, please visit our career pages at svn.com/careers-with-svn/. Our managing directors would like to hear from you.