Drawing Military Veterans to a New Mission: Delivering Interconnection

Larry McAlister
Drawing Military Veterans to a New Mission: Delivering Interconnection


The latest national unemployment numbers gave us some great news about military veterans: The unemployment rate for veterans is lower this year than last, and it’s also lower than the national rate. That’s a trend we can celebrate this Veterans Day, and one that we at Equinix want to help continue by increasing efforts to attract veterans to our U.S. workforce.

Our CEO, Steve Smith, served eight years in the Army after attending West Point, and Chief Information Officer Brian Lillie served eight years in the Air Force. We know the kind of talent and skills veterans bring to the workplace, and we think Equinix’s mission-critical work providing interconnection is particularly suited for people with military backgrounds.

Marine Corps veteran Maria Cruz, who works in operations in our LA1 data center in Los Angeles, said the pressure of keeping systems up-and-running all the time, no matter what, is something her military experience taught her to handle.

“The stress and pressure is kind of second nature, I thrive under that,” Maria said. “And I do think it’s because of what it was like in the Marine Corps.”

Improving numbers

The national unemployment rate for veterans is 3.9%, compared to 5% nationally. Even for veterans who entered the military after Sept. 11, 2001 – whose numbers have tended to be higher than the national average – it’s 4.6%, a significant drop from 7.2% just a year ago.

At Equinix, we’re also looking to see our numbers improve. Nationally, the percentage of veterans in the U.S. civilian labor force is 7%, and the percentage of Equinix U.S. employees who are veterans is just below that. But we’re taking action to ensure it won’t be for long.

Attracting veterans to Equinix

Our efforts to bring more veterans to Equinix are being led by recruiting specialist Vanessa Barnes, who has a brother in the Army and a brother-in-law in the Marine Corps. Vanessa began the program about two years ago after being inspired by a speaker at a talent conference who spoke movingly of the contributions veterans can make in the workforce.

Vanessa understood the nature of the work at Equinix was well-suited for veterans, particularly data center operations, which must keep our International Business Exchange™ (IBX®) data centers up-and-running at all times – through hurricanes, floods, power outages and all other minor or major disasters. More than 6,000 companies globally depend on us to securely interconnect to partners, customers and employees. These connections are fundamental to the success of business today, so maintaining uptime is our all-day, every-day mission. Military veterans are used to the pressure, teamwork and quick decision-making required to make sure we succeed.

Vanessa is being assisted by Todd Frey, an active reservist who served in the Navy for 11 years in places from Puerto Rico to Iraq. Todd’s move to civilian life after a lengthy military career gives him perspective on that sometimes difficult transition – he says the shift from a collective to a more individual mentality can be jarring. But he says Equinix has a team-based approach and mission that veterans will thrive in, and he wants more of them to know about the opportunities here.

Equinix has collected testimonials from veterans who work here to share with job candidates who are also veterans, and we’re working on a corresponding video. We’re also mapping out plans to build our brand with veterans by attending different conferences and careers fairs where we can interact. We’re already looking towards next Veteran’s Day, when we hope to see even more impressive national job numbers for veterans, and intend to work very hard to ensure Equinix establishes itself as a major contributor to this continued progress.


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Larry McAlister Former Vice President, Global Talent Management
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