Finding “home” as a veteran in the business world.

Andrea Havlik, Sales Executive – Weddings, Kohler, Wisconsin, U.S.A.

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We sat down with former air traffic controller Andrea Havlik to talk about her transition from the military to a civilian career. The Sales Executive for Destination Kohler weddings shares her experience in her new role and as President of the Kohler Alliance of Veterans and Supporters Business Resource Group (BRG).

What is it like to transition from a military to a civilian role?

The transition is definitely a challenge! But just like in the military, you have to face all challenges head on. Learning to network with others and not being embarrassed to ask questions is key.

When I started working for Kohler Co. six years ago, it felt like coming home. We’re a large global company and, to me, it felt a lot like being in the military. The organization, structure, and dress standards that we have here in Kohler Hospitality were easy to assimilate to. I believe that Kohler Hospitality really is the shining star that best portrays our company’s overall gracious culture. I love walking around The American Club® and greeting both fellow associates and guests. Being around other people fills my cup, and I believe that others who work in Hospitality really feel the same way. 

You’ve recently taken a rather unique role at Kohler Co. Can you tell us about it?

I’ve been the Sales Executive for Weddings for just over a year. When a couple wants information on our beautiful venues, they come talk to me first! I take them on a site tour of our resort here in Kohler, Wisconsin, and work through all contract details with them. It’s exciting and rewarding to help paint the picture of what their dream day could look like and to help the happy couple start their life together.

You are also the current President of the Kohler Alliance of Veterans and Supporters (KAVS) Business Resource Group. Tell us about the group.

Helping others and building camaraderie come naturally to veterans. When I joined KAVS, I instantly understood that I was among friends who filled the void of the military camaraderie that I missed. I can’t emphasize enough how beneficial it is to find a group of military veterans to be around.

In KAVS, I get to help others and focus on inclusivity to help foster a culture of giving back and supporting one another within and outside of Kohler. Our BRG focuses mainly on fundraisers to earn money for local organizations that we can personally present the funds to. I am truly overwhelmed by how giving our associates are. Kohler Co. empowers all of their BRGs to use their voice to constantly enhance the company’s culture—and they encourage all associates to join BRGs.   

Do you believe that your military background has provided you with any unique perspectives or talents that aid in your career today? 

Yes! I’ve had many different experiences, and I believe that it helps me relate to many different people, which certainly aids me in my current position. In the military, there are people from all walks of life and all cultures, and you have each other’s back. You don’t think about their skin color or what side of the tracks they grew up on. That experience further instilled in me my own personal mantra of the golden rule and treating others the way I want to be treated.

What’s your best advice for veterans who are looking for jobs right now?

Veterans are a special group of people who thrive in diverse and inclusive environments. We are natural givers and protectors. Our whole mission reflects a "service before self" mentality. Look for a company that has those same values. Ask your potential company about their BRGs or ERGs (Employee Resource Groups) and see if they have a veteran-based one.

It can be scary losing that safety net. But the risk is worth it. Go for it and dream big! Remember, success is just what people want for themselves.

In general, what are your favorite aspects of Kohler Co.’s culture, and how does your company help you succeed? 

Kohler has so many different opportunities. One way the company helps you succeed is simply how they can organically create a position based on your skill set. Of course, they also have excellent training programs. And, being a part of the BRG also allows you to meet so many more people from across the company.

It really is a special place to work, and the associates are at the heart of that. If you want to be in a company where they lead by example, then Kohler will be a good fit!

Your Kohler story begins here.