Veterans At Gartner: Daniel Ahlgren Shares His Story


Dan AhlgrenAre you a veteran looking to join the corporate world? We strongly encourage veterans to consider Gartner as their next career step after the military. Gartner Consultant and former U.S. Army Captain Daniel Ahlgren shares the story of his career transition below. 

How has the military prepared you for working at Gartner? There were many ways that the military prepared me for working at Gartner, but I’ll focus on my top three:

First, the military forced me to become more disciplined and focused. This starts from Day 1, and continues throughout a military career. Because I had spent almost 12 years in the private sector before the military, I can tell you that there is no better place to learn discipline than through the military. When I started at Gartner, I was prepared to handle anything that would come my way. There are times where the job is more demanding than other times; maintaining discipline enables me to approach each project with the same intensity and focus, and to enjoy the times when things are not quite as demanding.

Second, the military is big on responsibility, accountability, and leadership. Before entering the military, I didn’t realize that responsibility for military personnel goes far beyond doing a day-to-day job. Every job in the military, even the entry-level soldier, requires a higher level of thinking about one’s actions — and every soldier is a leader regardless of their rank. All soldiers have to think about how their actions, lack of action, or the actions of others could result in potential consequences, including the loss of life. When I started at Gartner, my military experience in this area prepared me to better identify potential risks (to projects, timelines, delivery, etc.), and to take responsibility to help the team deliver the quality that our clients have come to expect.

Third, my time in the military improved my ability to serve others and work toward seeking the best outcome for the team. The military is one of the most diverse organizations around, and excelling in such a diverse culture requires a higher level of emotional intelligence and collaboration. I am honored to have been able to work with the most amazing members of our military. The military prepared me to serve the diverse personalities that exist in Gartner employees, teams and our clients.

Describe your experience in coming to Gartner: I entered the military via Army basic training, completed officer candidate school, and was commissioned as a quartermaster officer, responsible for logistics in multiple roles. I would say my transition was likely easier than most because I spent so many years outside of the military. However, because of my years of corporate and private experience prior to the military, I’m convinced that there is no better leadership training in the world. The biggest challenge for me was going from a position of a lot responsibility and leadership to having much less. My guess would be that many will feel this way, and it will take some time to get used to. Over time, you’ll have opportunities to lead that will help rebuild some of that sense of loss.

Are there any groups at Gartner that helped you make the transition from the military easier? Everyone I have worked with at Gartner has been outstanding, so it’s hard to say that any one group has made transition easier. Beyond that, I’ve met several other veterans with whom I will always share an additional level of comradery and esprit de corps.

What is your favorite part about working for Gartner? My favorite part of working for Gartner is being a part of such a professional and respected organization. I remember my first few weeks at Gartner and working with my first client. I could see how much the client valued Gartner’s advice, and level of impact Gartner’s involvement was going to make across the organization and beyond. I was praying for a place to continue serving, and it was then and there that I realized I had made the right choice.

What advice can you give to people joining the workforce from the military? The best advice I can give transitioning military is be patient, but strategic. It takes a long time to plan the mission, and (usually) far less time to execute. Take some time to do some self-reflection before your transition to think about what you really enjoyed about what you were doing in the military, what you could not stand, and the things you were really skilled at doing.

Several years ago, I spent a good amount of time taking job/skill surveys to see what I was naturally skilled at, and then looking for jobs that matched some of those natural alignments. Once you’ve narrowed down your scope, you may find there are some additional requirements to getting into what you want to do. These could be education, certifications or experience, but will all increase your overall marketability. I spent almost eight years getting into consulting, and the military was a strategic piece that enabled me to serve our country, acquire amazing leadership and foundational skills, and position myself for further education. Again, be patient, give yourself credit for the things you have done (you really have done a lot), stay focused on the mission and you will get to that rendezvous with destiny!

Are you a transitioning military member interested in joining Gartner? Learn more here.

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