Declared by an act of Congress in 1999, National Military Appreciation Month was created to honor the men and women who have served, or are serving in, the United States Armed Forces. The month–long observation pays tribute to those who have sacrificed on the behalf of others.
This May, we’re proud to profile some of our leaders who have served our country in either military, Department of Defense, or civilian roles in support of the U.S. military. Yolanda Curtis is our new Deputy General Manager in our Health business unit, and a retired military spouse. We asked her about her new role at Cognosante and how private sector organizations can create a culture that supports the professional goals of military spouses as well as former service members.
Yolanda, please tell us about your background, and your new role at Cognosante.
As Deputy General Manager for our Health unit, I partner with Cognosante leadership to advance our health practice at the Federal and State levels and lead our efforts to grow our footprint in public health.
I have 30 years of experience managing information system programs and business operations for government and commercial customers, and more than 20 years program management experience supporting global public health.
How does Cognosante create a culture that supports service members and their families?
In my short time here, I have been struck by the genuine emphasis on making a military-friendly culture a reality. Employees at all levels truly appreciate the contributions that Veterans, reservists, and military spouses bring to Cognosante’s mission. For example, the company sets hiring goals to attract Veterans and military spouses and solicits meaningful input on how to create a culture that supports them, which really sets us apart from our industry peers.
How is your own leadership style influenced by your experiences as a military spouse?
I truly embrace the idea of servant leadership, which you see so often in the military. It’s the feeling that one wants to serve, and to serve first. As a leader, my goal is to help our Federal and state customers achieve their missions, and to provide our employees with the resources they need to do their jobs well.
How can other private sector organizations create a culture that supports the contributions of former service members and their spouses?
When companies recognize that diversity and inclusion drive high performance, they should immediately recognize the value of former service members and their spouses. They are adaptable, resourceful, and make great team members. I would always encourage employers to seek out diversity of thought, background and experience in candidates, when technical requirements are met. I would also add that the COVID-19 pandemic has shown that highly motivated employees can be very productive when working remotely, so employers can feel more confident taking a chance on an employee who may move or require some additional flexibility.
What advice do you have for military spouses considering private sector opportunities?
Military spouses have excellent transferrable skills. They are often called upon to be leaders, particularly when spouses are deployed, and consistently demonstrate flexibility, creativity, active listening, and cooperation, among other things. I would tell any military spouse seeking private sector opportunities to be confident in those abilities.
Learn more about Our Commitment to Veterans, and hear from some of our employees who continue to serve the nation through the work they do at Cognosante.