This month, as we focus in on some of the data storage challenges faced by the defense and intelligence communities; we discovered that many of our thought leaders have served in the United States armed forces. This month, we’ll be featuring profiles of our subject matter experts in the run-up to Armed Forces Day on Saturday, May 21st, 2016.  This week we feature Chip George, who once sailed the oceans as a member of the United States Navy and now is Senior Director for State and Local Government and Education at NetApp.

GovDataDownload (GDD): In which branch of the armed forces did you serve?

Chip GeorgeChip George (CG):  I served in the United States Navy for five years as a nuclear engineer.  After spending 18 months in highly specialized training dealing with nuclear power and, most importantly, safety, I served onboard the USS Philadelphia SSN-690, a Los Angeles-class attack submarine.


subBy U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Octavio N. Ortiz – This Image was released by the United States Navy with the ID 071007-N-0916O-231

GDD: Why did you choose to serve?

CG: I served for many different reasons.  I grew up in a military family – my dad was in the Army – so service was part of my family and my community’s culture.  I also received a Navy ROTC scholarship that helped me incredibly as I studied for a B.Sc. in Systems Engineering at the University of Virginia.  Following the completion of my degree I went into the training program I mentioned before and my career in the Navy unfolded from there.  I knew from the outset that I wasn’t going to be a careerist, but the experience – it was definitely a challenging environment – has served me well in every facet of my life, from leadership, teamwork, to advocating for STEM education.

GDD: Can you share any memorable experiences?

CG: There were many memorable experiences, even though I was in the Navy for a relatively short period of time.  There are the really personal memories of getting to see the world during visits to ports across the North Atlantic and Mediterranean to the lifelong friendships that I made.   However, what was most notable in terms of historical significance was supporting Operation Desert Storm in 1991 from our position in the eastern Mediterranean.  To be involved in that conflict and supporting our troops on the ground in Kuwait is something that I’m proud to have been a part of.

GDD: How has serving in the armed forces shaped your civilian career?

CG: In myriad ways!  From understanding the value of hard work, to learning how to work as part of a team, to quickly identify a common goal, my service has shaped how I operate every single day.  I don’t mean that I’m regimented and my team in the SLED organization are subject to drills, but what I know about myself and my colleagues who have served is that we have the ability to develop a strategic focus quickly and bring in all stakeholders to work towards a common goal quickly.

GDD: What piece of advice would you share with military personnel who are making the transition to civilian life?

CG:  I really do believe that military service can create the foundation for success in any realm of civilian life if you can find something you’re passionate about.  The ability to work as a team and bring focus on a common goal are the two most important skillsets that I draw on frequently and see my colleagues and leadership team respond positively to as well.  I really do appreciate my time in the military for the start it gave me in building a career.  However, those who serve for an entire career deserve so many thanks for their service as do those on active duty.  I hope we can all do a better job of thanking those people– whether it’s in word or deed – every day.