How military service developed this leader’s skills and her advice to grow your career

Two years into her career with Intuit, Ashley Millbern enlisted in the US Navy Reserves. Ahead of Veterans Day, Ashley shared how her military service helped develop her leadership skills, which she applies every day in her current role.

When Ashley Millbern joined Intuit in 2008, she began building her career and a network of colleagues. Two years later, she joined the US Navy Reserve and had the support of her managers as she took time away from Intuit to serve her military duty while balancing her civilian career.

Ahead of Veterans Day (celebrated Nov. 11 in the US), Ashley shared how her military service helped develop her leadership skills, which she applies every day in her current role as Consumer Group VP of Customer Success and Retention. She also gave her thoughts on mobility within Intuit and how you, too, can grow your career..

What did your military experience teach you?

I served as a Lieutenant in the Supply Corps of the US Navy Reserve from 2010 to 2018. Both of my parents had successful Navy careers, inspiring me to join. I often traveled to South Korea in the summer for war gaming exercises, which tended to agitate North Korea. On one trip, when I was on watch in the Operations Center, we got a warning of potential bio warfare. We put on gas masks, suited up and prepared for the worst. It was quite tense, and I quickly learned how to stay calm. Thank goodness it was a false alarm. And this is an insignificant example compared to what our troops face daily.  However, it reminds me that while the corporate world can seem stressful there’s a different bar when you feel your life is on the line. This mindset has been especially helpful throughout my time at Intuit as I’ve led my teams through challenges.

My military experience helped as I was able to transfer many of the skills I learned about how to lead, learn fast, solve problems under pressure, and collaborate. I also embraced mobility at Intuit. I joined as a finance manager and then moved on to product management, marketing, a global role, and then back to Finance. I focused on learning as much as I could across seven different roles, which led me to my most recent role leading Customer Success for the Consumer Group.

What are your top career growth tips?

Make the most of your monthly development conversations with your manager. Use these check-ins to start having conversations about where you’re finding passion. Ask how you can do more work in this area—or learn more.

Volunteer for stretch assignments. I did a three-month project where a small group of us did 100 in-person follow me homes in China to explore the opportunity for QuickBooks. The executive sponsor of this project became my mentor. And a couple of years later reached out to me about a global job opportunity where I spent three years of my Intuit career. It’s all about relationship building and expressing your interests and capabilities.

I say it all the time that “the world is your oyster”. I encourage employees to move around the company and explore different paths. Lean on your network for support and don’t be afraid to ask for what you want.

What advice do you give managers regarding career mobility?

As managers, it’s our responsibility to foster a one Intuit mindset. We’re collectively growing the talent across the organization. While it’s difficult to lose a key player on your team, expanding their sphere of influence in a new role will help them grow and stretch, and benefit Intuit with fresh eyes. And, as a manager, if you pay it forward you’ll likely benefit from mobility at some point in your career. Plus, there’s a great sense of purpose when you grow and nurture employees and “deploy your troops” across the organization.

What will you be thinking about this Veterans Day?

Appreciation and gratitude for the sacrifice that our military are making on a daily basis. And not just the service members, but also their families. Their spouses and partners, their kids, their parents. Not only are they constantly worried about their loved ones who are away, but they also have to make many sacrifices in their daily lives.


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