Team Members

A path less traveled

When I was asked to write about my journey to IA, I didn’t know where to start. I thought about starting with, “on a stormy October day in 1984…,”but I decided that might be a bit much. For the sake of time, I’ll start with who I am. My name is Jonathan, and I’m a recovering career soldier… wait, sorry, wrong audience. In all seriousness, I am IA’s newest team member and still a Sergeant First Class in the U.S. Army. Weird, right? To the bewilderment of my coworkers, I have chosen to leave the Army after 20 years for the messy and complex world of transformational HR consulting. I know what you’re thinking – but why? And how? Good questions.

First, let me explain the conditions that helped me realize the need for change. A mentor once told me, “The Army ends for everybody, someday. Make sure you have a plan when your time comes.” So naturally, since that day, I have always had a looming question in the back of my mind – what am I going to do next? I knew that I enjoyed the challenge of problem-solving, creativity, and critical thinking, and wanted an opportunity to expand and refine those passions. I also felt that if I applied myself correctly, I could translate a robust career of leadership competencies to the private sector and hopefully add value to my future organization. With that knowledge in hand, I decided to go back to school. I needed to stay competitive and relevant with my non-military peers. I shot for the moon right out of the gate and decided to pursue a bachelor’s and graduate degree back-to-back. A tall order on a short timeline, as I was less than five years from retirement. I got to work in January 2018.

About midway through my personal journey of pre-retirement enlightenment (say that three times fast), I made a chance connection with Jason and Kimberly Carroll in 2019 while on recruiting duty. I had the pleasure of working with the Carroll family as Jason and Kimberly’s youngest children explored their future beyond high school. Over the next few years, I stayed in touch with them, and when the time came to choose and begin a graduate program, Kimberly was a great sounding board and instrumental in guiding me as I explored the possibilities of HR.

As retirement from the Army drew near, I received a call from Jason while he was away from IA, letting me know about a possible HR position. Several months later, Kimberly called me to tell me that IA may also have a career opportunity available. I felt obligated to let her know that I was also speaking with Jason about another position (as if she didn’t already know). My concerns were alleviated when I learned that Jason had returned to IA since I last spoke with him. Everything was coming together for a successful transition out of military service. Over the next few months, I met with Mark Stelzner and Kimberly to explore an opportunity with IA.

As part of my retirement transition from the Army, I learned about the Army Career Skills Program (CSP). This program allows service members to step away from Army life during the last six months of service and pursue new career opportunities. CSP enables service members to explore, cultivate, and refine skills to help service members transition to the private sector.

When I discovered that the CSP had a create-your-own adventure option allowing me to work with an organization of my choice as an intern, I called Kimberly immediately. Mark and Kimberly thought it would be an excellent opportunity for everyone involved. Through the painstaking bureaucratic procedures of the U.S. government, we secured permission from the Army, and I started with IA as a Senior Advisor intern in December 2022. That’s about it! Well, not really; there is still the elephant in the room. Why HR?

As a senior leader in the Army, I have had the distinct pleasure of coaching, mentoring, and training a myriad of personalities and talents over the years. Additionally, the longer I have been in the Army, the more I have identified policies and procedures that negatively impact service members. Practices, technology, and leadership initiatives that are designed to help but don’t. True transcendence realizes that you will never be able to change that about the Army, not at my level. However, my professional goal has always been to care for an organization’s health and those I lead. That is why HR quickly became a passion for me and why consulting was such a natural transition.

As my time in the Army twilights, I hope to bring that same dedication and empathy to our clients, their employees, and customers. What better way to meaningfully impact a company than to help them realize its full potential? I’m excited for the challenging road ahead and hope to one day see my insights and passion improve the lives of others around the globe.

Written by:

  • Jonathan Thompson

    Jonathan has over 15 years of leadership experience, including six years in recruitment and onboarding new soldiers. He has an extensive background in performance management, talent development, coaching, and mentoring. Jonathan is a meticulous problem solver and critical thinker focused on innovative change solutions. As the newest member of the IA team, Jonathan is an intern under the United States Army Career Skills Program (CSP).


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