Cory [left] serving in the U.S. Navy, 1990.
My Personal Experience as a Veteran
My name is Cory Waddingham, and I’m the Lead Support Engineer for Neo4j Aura.
I served in the U.S. Navy from 1988-1996, then again from 2001-07. Most of that time was in the Naval Reserve with about five years of cumulative active duty time.
When I first enlisted, I was an OS, or Operations Specialist, working in the Combat Information Center on the ship. There, I worked in navigation, weapons control and communications with the rest of the fleet. That was also my first job as a sysadmin, working on a SPARC-20 running a tactical networking system called NTDS, a forerunner to the networked systems used in the fleet today.
After September 11th, 2001, I reenlisted, this time as an IT Specialist, and I served in Turkey before and during the Iraq invasion.
I was motivated to serve in the U.S. Navy partly out of family tradition – my grandfather was in the Navy in WWII, my dad served in Vietnam, and my older brother was serving as a pilot when I enlisted – and partly as part of a plan to help with college. But mostly it was a chance to see the world.
How Serving in the Military Prepared Me to Work in Tech
As I said, running the NTDS terminal on my first ship – the USS Bristol County – was my first job as a sysadmin, and it set me up for having the fantastic career I’ve had. My last role in the Navy was the Leading Petty Officer for the communications staff for an admiral. Working on that staff taught me some important lessons about leadership and how to be an effective manager.
In my career in corporate America, I’ve had the pleasure of working with a number of veterans in a variety of roles, including other veterans who work at Neo4j. Two of my team members are also vets, and we’ve commiserated around our service quite a bit. And one of our Field Engineers is also ex-Navy; he and I have had a lot of jokes together and shared sea stories over Slack.
What We Can All Learn from Veterans
If there’s one thing that defines military service, it’s working with your fellow service personnel towards a common goal, sacrificing personal comfort for the greater good. I think that spirit applied in a corporate environment – of everyone knowing they’re working as part of the same team and that when the company does well we all do well – can make for a strong and successful company.
At Neo4j, our first company core value is “We Value Relationships.” As a veteran, I appreciate how that value helps us both as a business and as a team to build around a common good, a shared vision of the future.
One of the things I’m especially grateful for on Veterans Day is the support that vets in the U.S. get from everyday citizens. There’s a lot of love and appreciation that’s given. So rather than say anything more about supporting vets let me just say, on behalf of all veterans, thank you for your support.
And on behalf of the entire Neo4j team, to all people who have served in the armed forces of their respective countries: Thank you for your service and sacrifice.