2020 has been a turbulent and downright unpredictable year. But one truth has emerged and stayed consistent in all of the upheaval: that community, collaboration, and service have the power to connect and be transformative.
For two WeWork employees, these are familiar themes—in no small measure due to a remarkable commonality between them. In addition to working at WeWork, John Tucker, a capital improvements senior project manager in New York, and Michael Angelo Rodriguez, a regional technology services manager based in Boston, both have a history of military service.
Their paths took them to different corners of the globe, situated them among different people, and had them carrying out different duties. But the foundations of their experiences are similar. Both veterans bring an appreciation for diversity, a clear-eyed vision, and a sense of kinship from their military service to the work they do today.
Carrying out a common mission
Tucker’s tour as a Marine brought him all around the world—from Okinawa, Japan, to Afghanistan (where he was deployed twice). “Those seven years flew by,” he says. “But the experiences were incredibly fulfilling. Military service provides an opportunity to work alongside men and women from many walks of life, in an environment where everyone has a common mission,” he says.
Today, Tucker is settled in New York City, where he handles project management and support on the capital improvements team at WeWork. Although the job isn’t quite as far-flung as his past career (his team is responsible for the U.S. and Canada), and the day-to-day looks a bit different, there are similarities when it comes to the underpinnings of success in each realm.
“We all need to set aside our individual interests and think about our colleagues and the business when showing up to work,” he says of his work at WeWork. “If we all do the right thing and remember our values, everything else will fall into place.”
A people-powered role
For Rodriguez, that commitment to a common vision has been emblematic of his occupations as well. Rodriguez’s military career spanned seven and a half years, during which he was stationed in Oklahoma, Texas, and New York, and had traveled to Bosnia, Afghanistan, Djibouti, and Iraq.
“My favorite part of serving was the people I met,” he says. “We developed camaraderie due to our shared experiences. It showed me that we all can get further together.”
Today, his position, which involves maintaining the company’s network infrastructure and providing IT support to employees and members, has him immersed in the methodical world of tech (“I learn something new every day—it’s always evolving,” he remarks). But similar to his experiences in the military, his current role is people-powered.
“The most surprising aspect of WeWork is the community,” he says. “We continue to thrive in the face of challenges, and we do it with integrity and kindness.”
An all-hands-on-deck attitude has been automatic for WeWork employees, he says, when confronting a range of hurdles, from a time crunch before a site opening (“We all came in the weekend prior to ensure all equipment was functional and usable,” he remembers) to a group effort to solve a connectivity issue that a single community member was dealing with. Since Rodriguez didn’t live in the same city as that member, he needed the support of his colleagues on the community team to help understand the problem.
“They graciously gathered everything I needed to better analyze the situation and create a solution for that member,” says Rodriguez. “Our leadership team believes we are all leaders, which allows us to make decisions that impact the company positively.”
Flexibility is the most important weapon
Both men also point to adaptability as the thread that connects their military service to their careers at WeWork. “I learned to remain flexible—to be able to deviate from the original plan,” says Rodriguez of his active duty.
That form of nimbleness, adds Tucker, is a quality that’s crucial to success, not just in the military but also in a business context. “As a mindset, flexibility is my team’s most important weapon,” he explains. And, he adds, it’s a lesson that will also serve us as a larger global community. “The entire world has to face the reality that yesterday can’t determine how we approach tomorrow,” says Tucker.
No matter what tomorrow brings, it’s clear that any mission is in far better shape if it’s buoyed by a dedicated community spirit. For Rodriguez, that’s the central tenet that’s animated his experience both in and out of the military. “Being a part of both organizations has allowed me to understand that as long as we work together, we can achieve wonderful results.”
Rachel Mosely is a writer and editor based in Brooklyn, New York. Her work has appeared in Cosmopolitan, Town & Country, Elle, and more.