In honor and celebration of Veterans Day, we interviewed Senior Manager and VetsWithImpact@LEK leader Wes Going, who tells us about his experience in the Navy, the values he took away from his time there, and his transition from the Navy to the consulting world. 

What drew you to the Navy?
I initially became interested when hearing about the experiences from my family members who had served. I also recognized the good fortune I had growing up and living in this country and wanted to give back. Because of this, when I was evaluating colleges, ROTC, The Reserve Officers' Training Corps that trains college students for future service in branches of the U.S. military, was an option that interested me and was also an opportunity for a scholarship. While at Georgetown University for undergrad, I was a member of the Navy ROTC unit at George Washington University. The Navy ROTC unit was appealing for the variety of different experiences it offered, from aviation to submarines to surface ships to the Marines. 

Tell us a little bit about your experience.
After Georgetown, I ultimately selected surface warfare in the Navy and was stationed on guided missile destroyers out of Norfolk, Virginia. As an officer, I led anywhere from 12 to 80 sailors across various functional departments, beginning in engineering, then communications, then navigation. I deployed three times — first off the coast of Somalia doing counterpiracy, then ballistic missile defense in the Mediterranean, and finally to the Black Sea and Persian Gulf as part of a carrier strike group. Navigating an approximately $1B+ warship through the Turkish straits is most likely the coolest thing I’ll get to do in my career and the diverse mix of people I met in the Navy, who all shared a similar calling — and all faced the same potential high stakes as I did — were some of the most inspiring individuals I’ve gotten to work with and were motivating to be around.

What did you take away from the experience personally and professionally?
First, humble leadership and active listening. When you step on a boat at 22 right out of undergrad and you’re expected to lead a division of sailors, some of whom have 20+ years of experience and subject matter expertise, you learn quickly where you can step in and provide leverage while demonstrating a credible level of authority and, perhaps more importantly, accountability. Humble leadership and active listening help me lead teams at L.E.K., where I stepped into the consultant role leading a highly talented group of associates with more consulting and L.E.K. experience than I had. It also helps in mentoring team members, in understanding their personal and professional needs and how to grow them during, and beyond, a case. Another key skill I gained in the Navy is the ability to execute in ambiguity. In the Navy, I often had to make split-second judgment calls using a mix of intuition and training, in high stakes circumstances. This translates well to consulting where there can also be a lot of ambiguity and unexpected client questions that require quick and thoughtful responses.

Last, I’ve learned the value of perspective, both personally and professionally. Hours on cases can be long, but not quite comparable to being deployed.
Tell us a bit about VetsWithImpact@LEK and transitioning from the Navy to the consulting world.
VetsWithImpact is an employee resource group for military veterans at L.E.K. We’re a tight-knit group,having shared experiences that help provide guidance and mentorship to current veterans at L.E.K., but also to veterans transitioning from the military to consulting. Going from driving a warship to building models and making slides was quite a transition for me. While the process of learning on the job is how I’ve found I learn and grow the most, having the formal mentorship and support from VetsWithImpact, as well as formally throughout L.E.K., is a great resource for veterans.