Cherokee Federal recently hired retired Air Force Colonel, Shawn Thompson, as a civil engineer for Cherokee Nation Management & Consulting (CNMC). Thompson served as the Chief for the Strategy and Innovation Division for the Air Force Installation and Mission Support Center at Joint Base San Antonio-Lackland, Texas, before joining the Cherokee team.
Thompson was promoted to colonel in January 2016 and is the recipient of several major awards and decorations, including a Legion of Merit, Bronze Star and the Meritorious Service Medal. Throughout his 26-year career in the Air Force, Thompson commanded at the Squadron and Group level, served on a major command and Air Staff and had multiple deployments.
In his career, Thompson led a 528 person organization responsible for the maintenance, repair and construction for 705 facilities, 1,850 housing units, a hospital, five schools and infrastructure supporting two installations worth over $3.2 billon. Thompson was also responsible for guiding the development, budgeting and execution of a $453 million construction and repair program consisting of 41 concurrent projects in Africa and Southwest Asia, which resulted in critical and timely airfield repairs and enabled several Joint Task Force operations.
“I’ve had the chance to hold a lot of different positions from programming to environmental to operations in a lot of different civil engineering squadrons that helps me understand the different parts of the Air Force,” said Thompson.
When it was time to start a new chapter in his career, Thompson drew upon his personal connections from his Air Force career to support him through his transition. One of those important connections was with Dan Guinan, CNMC Operations General Manager, who made his way from the Air Force to Cherokee Federal a few years before Thompson began his process.
“Naturally a lot of folks that you are stationed with you stay in contact with,” commented Thompson.
“Shawn and I were stationed together while serving on the Air Staff working on policy and resource issues for Air Force Civil Engineers around the world,” said Guinan. “He is a strong leader and has a wealth of experience that he is bringing to the Cherokee team as we continue to grow our facility engineering and asset management support service lines.”
Additionally, Thompson maintained involvement with local networking groups and professional organizations, such as the Society of American Military Engineers, in order to strengthen his connections in the private sector. Through a workshop, he reconnected with Guinan and met other Cherokee Federal recruiters. They started a dialogue that led him to a position with the company.
When asked what advice he would give to other veterans who were ready to make a career transition, he recommends other veterans and active service men and women start early, allowing for at least a year planning before their retirement and taking their next steps. Thompson also recommends finding a mentor and building a community to guide you through the process.
“Your transition into the private sector takes a lot of planning and mentorship from people, like Dan Guinan. Sit down and take informational lunches with those folks to learn what the private industry is all about,” adds Thompson. “Spend some time with veterans who have gone through the process before you.”
Thompson chose Cherokee Federal for a number of reasons, including the company’s organizational structure, his personal connections and immediate camaraderie, as well as a sense of purpose.
“I was blessed to learn from the people that came before me that interviewing is a two-way street. You want to make a good match for yourself personally and professionally. You want to be a great asset to the company, but you also want the company to be a great asset for you,” said Thompson. “Cherokee Federal’s mission was something that I could relate to very well. I can serve two greater causes, if you will. I’m supporting Cherokee Nation, the tribe, and I get to continue to serve the Air Force.”
Cherokee Federal is wholly owned by Cherokee Nation, the largest Native American tribe in the U.S. Its mission is to diversify and grow the economy of Cherokee Nation. Company profits support future business investments, as well as programs and services for tribal citizens. Cherokee Federal also believes in the value of a diverse workforce and in investing in the brightest talent to keep the company moving forward.
Thompson joined at the end of the fiscal year as a subject matter expert, providing consultation on various proposals and end of year task orders. Additionally, Thompson has been training to prepare for his next role as a program manager with CNMC.
“We are excited to have Shawn on our team,” said Cassandra Price, CNMC Director of Operations. “His extensive experience and knowledge will be a huge asset to our organization’s success.”
Cherokee Federal’s technically skilled and driven team of more than 3,000 employees are focused on building next-generation technologies, solving complex challenges and serving more than 60 federal agencies globally. Join our team and make an immediate impact.
Cherokee Nation Management & Consulting is part of Cherokee Federal’s consulting business line. CNMC sources and manages technical personnel for federal agencies to address asset management, environmental and logistical challenges.