From USMA to eBay
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There’s nothing like a good, old-fashioned success story to motivate you, particularly when you find yourself facing your own career crossroads. Knowing that others have walked a similar path before you and succeeded can be a big inspiration when you are contemplating your own future.
To find real encouragement, you won’t have to look any further than former U.S. Army service member turned corporate executive, Marty Abbott.
“I’ve been very fortunate in my career,” says Abbott, who is partner and co-founder of AKF Partners, a management-consulting firm that offers executive advisory services for hyper-growth companies.
Abbott, along with his partners, Michael Fisher, Tom Keeven and Kevin Fortuna comprise a unique team of highly-experienced former executives from both startup and Fortune 500 companies, who have clearly made their marks. They now specialize in exporting their own brand of technological know-how to other companies hoping to achieve similar levels of success.
Before starting AKF Partners in January 2007, Abbott worked for nearly two years as the Chief Operating Officer (COO) for Quigo, a developer of online marketing technologies that was ultimately purchased by AOL in 2007. As COO of the company, he was directly responsible for its product strategy and management as well as the engineering, technology and site operations.
Prior to being appointed COO of Quigo, Abbott worked in a number of high profile positions within eBay, the world’s largest online marketplace.
From 2003 to 2005, he served as the company’s Senior Vice President of Technology and its Chief Technology Officer. Before that he was the Vice President of Operations, IT and QA from 2001 to 2003 and before that the Vice President of Operations from 1999 to 2001.
During his eBay tenure, Abbott managed the infrastructure, operations and information architecture of all of eBay’s Internet sites worldwide. He was also responsible for the company’s corporate technology and their data warehouse as well as software engineering for PayPal and non-eBay branded trading platforms.
Abbott earned his Bachelor of Science in Computer Science from West Point and went on to earn a Master of Science Degree in Computer Engineering from the University of Florida. Later, he graduated from the Harvard Business School’s Executive Education Program.
When he is not changing planes in one airport or another, Abbott can be found serving on the Board of Directors for Onforce and LodgeNet Interactive and on the advisory boards at Rearden Commerce, Goldmail, LiveOps and the University of Florida’s Technology Commercialization Board.
In short, one could say that Abbott is a technology leader who not only worked hard to develop his own impressive resume, but who, in his own low-key manner, wants to help others in writing their own.
“I learned something in each and every job I had and it helped to prepare me for the next one,” says Abbott, emphasizing that one should always seek out and identify opportunities to grow professionally.
When asked if there was a secret to his success, he had a definite answer.
“I just threw myself into each job and did my best,” says Abbott.
A solid start
Before becoming the corporate success that he is today, Abbott’s journey began in uniform as a junior officer in the U.S. Army.
“After graduating from West Point in 1990, I spent four years on active duty as an armor officer in the 82nd Airborne back when there were light tanks. The rest of the time I spent in the Reserves and the inactive Reserves,” said Abbott.
Abbott speaks highly of his time spent in the military and credits it with giving him a solid start.
"Four years of time spent in the leadership lab at West Point and four years active duty as a junior officer absolutely helped me to succeed in civilian life,” said Abbott.
When he made the decision to leave the military in 1995, Abbott ultimately turned to Bradley-Morris, Inc. (BMI) to assist him in making his move into a civilian job.
“I had the opportunity to work with several placement firms at the time and Bradley-Morris was the first one to really listen to what I wanted to do,” said Abbott.
Maureen “Mo” Stern, a BMI account executive, assisted Abbott in landing his first civilian job.
“Marty was wonderful to work with. He was tremendously qualified and easy to place,” said Stern.
Abbott also has fond memories of working with Stern during his placement process.
“I especially remember working with Mo Stern as she really made a difference, so much so that I stayed in touch with her for several years after my placement as a manufacturing supervisor at Motorola,” said Abbott.
For those contemplating a military to civilian career switch, Abbott offers some solid advice.
“The transition from military to civilian can be difficult at times. It’s helpful, I think, to understand that civilians are motivated by slightly different things. They tend to think outside the box a little more,” said Abbott suggesting that such attitudes should be embraced by those making the transition.
He also believes that learning the business of business, sooner rather than later, is crucial.
“Education is important. While you’re still on active duty or whenever you can, seek out an MBA degree or simply take business classes at the local community college,” said Abbott.
“Learn everything you can about accounting, marketing and business management. This will be very beneficial to you in the civilian job market,” said Abbott adding that even he wished he had done that sooner himself.
Abbott also advises transitioners to carry their unique commitment to duty from the military into their civilian jobs.
“That dedication to mission that service members have is a definite plus in the civilian world,” said Abbott.
Finally, Abbott is a firm believer in networking. In his case, he has been able to share his good fortune and professional influence with others he has known along his own path. As a matter of fact, some of his most accomplished professional counterparts have been veterans:
There you have it…a good dose of career inspiration and great examples from those who have been there, have done that and have done it the right way.
Janet Farley is the author of “The Military-to-Civilian Career Transition Guide” and she writes the JobTalk column for the Stars and Stripes newspaper. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org for comments and/or column suggestions.
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