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Black History Month: A US veteran on his duty to advocate

"At the end of the day, we're all trying to solve the same problems, just from different perspectives." -George Ploss, Sales Consulting Manager, Oracle NetSuite Solutions Consulting Academy

George Ploss served as a US Marine who followed his love of innovation and mentorship to Oracle. Having found fulfilment in a senior role at Oracle NetSuite, he feels the time is ripe to share what he’s learned from rising through the ranks in the business world. Hear him reflect on his career, cultural identity, and passion for advocacy.

From training troops to training techies

You can’t help but notice how George’s military experience is still serving him to this day. Formerly a Ground Operations Training Chief in the US Marine Corps, George is now a manager at Oracle NetSuite Solutions Consulting Academy, where he takes industry-experienced professionals and puts them through an intense, seven-month training program that teaches them how to be solution engineers.

“I teach professionals like accountants and financial analysts who usually have between three to eight years’ experience in their field,” he explains. “Upon completion of the program, they support our sales teams by helping emerging and mid-market customers understand how Oracle ERP technology can solve the most pressing business problems organizations have, with the most advanced SaaS products out there.”

Changing lanes and embracing change

George’s journey at Oracle began in 2015 when he himself joined us as a solution engineer. Two years later, he decided to change roles and took on the mantle of senior program manager for veteran recruiting, before assuming his current position. “With Oracle being such a large organization, a lot of opportunity exists to experience something new without leaving the company,” he points out. “I had heard that Oracle NetSuite’s culture is amazing and I wanted something new, but I also wanted everything I love from Oracle.”

What does George love about Oracle? “The fact that I get to have a hand in ushering the complete transformation of how business is done,” he says matter-of-factly. “We’re just at the tip of the utility of cloud applications and cloud computing. Knowing where all industry is headed and knowing that I’m helping to usher in that change is great.”

The ability to be agile and embrace change is something that George and Oracle have in common. “The way we encourage innovation and solutioning here is akin to a startup culture,” he suggests. “I get to hire a team of industry professionals and lead them towards success—it’s the most fulfilling aspect of working in the private sector. Putting together a team, investing in them and cultivating their growth. At the end of the day, watching the people you’ve coached and mentored succeed makes everything worth it. “

Military skills are people skills

While the Marine Corps taught George some incredible technical knowledge that helped him build his current domain expertise, he says its actually the soft skills he learned while serving that benefit him most on a daily basis. “Being organized and maintaining focus on our objectives both at the team level and organizational level are perspectives I’ll always have which the Corps instilled in me,” he shares. “But, even more important, is the ability to level and communicate with anyone from all walks of life.”

As a Marine, George’s colleagues consisted of Americans from very different socio-economic backgrounds, as well as adjacent civilians, military, and foreign entities. “You quickly understand that we have more commonalities than differences,” he emphasizes. “At the end of the day, we’re all trying to solve the same problems, just from different perspectives. So whether I’m dealing internally or externally, there isn’t a person or an organization that I cannot level with, and that is the foundation of how all my business conversations begin.”

Advice for veterans

When asked for advice for fellow veterans entering the private sector, George’s problem-solving and mentoring abilities come on full display. “I would tell them to lean into their core competencies and parallel them to the private sector,” he instructs.  “As an example, all officers and non-commissioned officers have a general education in supply chain and logistics, just because you have public sector experience doesn’t mean that those same challenges aren’t faced in the private sector. Compare and contrast the two and then communicate your experience in solving those challenges to private sector counterparts.”

To take the example further, George describes a former Army Ranger Medic who graduated from the academy as a solution consultant. “Whenever he’s in front of a client that has a warehouse distribution problem, he talks about his background in distributing medication at a battalion aid station in a hostile area of operations, and the challenges he overcame,” George describes. “The same principles apply if you’re trying to fulfill an order from a distribution center. The only difference is that the solider is working for a mission-driven organization and the employee for a private sector organization. Imagine having someone so uniquely qualified on your team. If you’re a hiring manger, how could you say no?”

You can’t fault George’s logic. “So again,” he instructs, “lean into those experiences and core competencies that are innate with being a Marine, Soldier, Sailor, Airman, Coast Guardsman and make them relevant.”

Honoring the past, creating the future

A proud advocate for veterans, George is equally proud of his ancestral heritage. “Black History is American history,” he states. “As a Black American and a Marine, I stand on top of the sacrifices my ancestors made in order for me to have equal rights, serve my country, and work in finance and tech. Honoring those sacrifices is always on my mind and provides me with a principled foundation of how to make decisions.”

George’s military career and ancestral heritage have imbued in him a sense of responsibility which now dictates how he leads his life. “I have a duty to be a good steward of Oracle. I have a duty to advocate for veterans, and also people who are black and brown like me, because we still have to fight against being marginalized. I’m proud to work for a company that gives me a voice and platform to say that Black Lives Matter, and that recognizes tolerance and humanity are table stakes—the bedrock in which we can do business and succeed, together.”

At Oracle, Black History Month is a time when we come together to recognize how far the fight for equality has come, while always remembering how far we have yet to go.  Learn how Oracle is dedicated to enriching the careers of Black professionals.

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