CivilianJobNews.com - The Essential Military-to-Civilian Transition Resource

Top 40 Under 40 Military Spotlight: Mike Marty
by Heidi Russell Rafferty, Contributing Editor

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Article Sponsored by: Waste Management

Civilian Job News will periodically highlight one of the Top Forty Under Forty Military honorees. Mike Marty is this issue’s profile subject.

Resting his arms on the hood of a Humvee during a late-night artillery field exercise, Michael Marty decided it was time to share with his company commander: “I think I need to leave the Army so that I can go to business school. I can’t do both.”

military to civilian transitionThe conversation that ensued - and the lessons he learned that night - changed Marty’s life. His captain, Mike Eastman, told him about a program that would allow him to finish graduate school while still on active duty, in exchange for teaching at West Point for three years.

What ensued was a series of punctuated Army career highs that set the foundation for a successful military to civilian transition. Today, Marty is marketing director for Patch.com, which “takes news, commerce, conversations and events in a community and brings them online into a Web 2.0 experience,” he says. Patch.com reports on news-making events in 850 communities nationwide. We take the core product of a local newspaper and put it on steroids,” Marty explains.

In 2010, Marty was selected as one of the "Top 40 Under 40 Military", an annual recognition program from Civilian Job News that gives a nod to outstanding veterans. He learned of the award opportunity through LinkedIn and found that the application and acceptance process was simple. He encourages other veterans and current service members to throw their names into the ring for consideration in the future.

“I was honored to be considered, let alone selected. It’s a fantastic initiative,” Marty says. “What I love about it is not just that it highlights those in the military but those who served previously. Usually we don’t recognize those who spent part of their professional experience to serve in the military. It has become a topic of conversation for me. I put it into my bio at work, and people were impressed by it. I can see it leading to future things.”

One thing he’s learned is that the skills he developed as an officer in the U.S. Army can be applied daily in the civilian corporate world.

“I use all the management and problem solving skills. My abilities are to be flexible, to take care of people that work for me and give them a sense of direction and goal and allow them to maneuver under that to best meet the objective or goal. All that is what I learned in the Army,” Marty says.

Like the other “Top 40 Under 40 Military” designees, Marty brings a personal history of dedicated military service combined with drive to succeed in his civilian career pursuits. He graduated in 1995 from the University of Notre Dame with a marketing degree on an ROTC scholarship. And after 9/11, he served with the 3rd Battalion, 82nd Field Artillery of the 1st Cavalry Division at Fort Hood, which was the first Cavalry Division Ready Brigade Task Force to be called up to Kuwait.

Marty took Eastman’s advice in 2002 and worked on his Master’s at Harvard Business School while still listed as an active duty officer. He graduated in 2004. During school, Marty interned with a sports marketing agency owned by the Boston Red Sox Baseball Club. It was responsible for exploring ventures leveraging the Red Sox brand to maximize the club’s revenues. He was appointed CEO and was charged with managing all aspects of business development, financing, marketing, sales and operations. He led it to profitability within 60 days, and investors earned 20-times their invested capital in three years time. Although the Red Sox offered to pay him, as a soldier, he couldn’t be compensated. So he received school credit for his experience.

Following graduation, Marty took his post as a West Point instructor, teaching economics, finance and accounting. “I enjoyed my time teaching cadets who raised (their) hands to serve the nation in a time of war. And there they were, learning from me,” he laughs. “I was learning about improving myself as a leader.”

During his teaching stint, Marty worked with a think tank that operates out of West Point. They were tasked with solving a problem on the behalf of the Office of Economic and Manpower Analysis. “Their mandate is to build the Army of the future. They look at how the army competes for talent in the labor market. They discovered the Army was getting exposure to people too late after they made the decision what to do with their lives,” Marty explains.

The question was: How could the Army generate interest in the service? So a team led by (Ret.) Col. E. Casey Wardynski formed a small business within the Army called “America’s Army.” Marty became COO, managing the operations of the 200-plus member organization with more than $120 million in federal contracts and a $24 million annual operating budget. America’s Army became a multiple award-winning, top-10 online video game franchise with more than 11 million players. The organization was recognized for being the Army’s most cost effective form of digital and social media outreach, earning two American Marketing Association EFFIE Awards, an American Association of Advertising Agencies’ Jay Chiat Award, an EXPY Award, and five Guinness World Records.

The idea behind it was to help youngsters experience real life soldier-hood, all in the confines of gaming.

“It was a virtual world of soldiers and value systems and all the things it takes to be a soldier. It showed kids about the opportunity to serve the country as a person and as a leader,” Marty says.

After exiting the Army and undergoing military to civilian transition, Marty went to work for a small startup, “which was an idea on a piece of paper and involved myself and three individuals,” he says. The company, called Amigo Navigation, launched in March 2010 and focused on mobile advertising technology, which is “a hot area in the marketing world for using mobile phones for brands to interact with consumers,” he says. Marty was working with the group when he received the “Top 40 Under 40 Military” Award last fall.

He moved into his current job in November 2010. “It was a difficult decision to leave the Army. But the idea around disrupting industry through startups, new ideas and concepts really started to intrigue me. There are not many types of those projects in the military, which was part of the impetus to make the move. The entire experience, how technology and digitization of content is the future of the way things are headed, totally enthralled me,” Marty says.

Freelancer Heidi Russell Rafferty is a reporter with 19 years of experience who writes about employment and business issues.

Return to September/October 2011 Issue