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From Military Pilot to Math Ninja

By Tim Madden  

A career in the military has many rewards, but it also has foundational relevance for a civilian career. According to the U.S. Government Accountability Office, around 200,000 service members transition out of the military each year. Various federal programs are designed to facilitate this transition, including helping service members achieve their education, employment and other goals, and overcome potential challenges in adjusting to civilian life. Unfortunately, many of these programs fall flat, and thousands of veterans are left without any options or viable plans to fall back on post service.

Fortunately, military experience proves to be an unmatched asset in franchising and, therefore, a thriving career option for veterans. I served for nine years on active duty in the U.S. Navy after attending Villanova University on an ROTC scholarship. While in the Navy, I completed flight school in Florida and Texas, earning my wings and becoming a naval aviator. During my time serving our country, I held many positions including aircraft commander, instructor pilot and finally, senior instructor pilot. After leaving the Navy, I became an airline pilot for JetBlue Airways out of John F. Kennedy Airport, New York, where I started as a first officer on the Airbus A320 and, within one year, became a captain.

At the time, I was one of the youngest large commercial aircraft captains in the country, but eventually, I decided to leave JetBlue Airways to tackle new challenges.

I knew that I wanted to work in a business that helps other people. My passion for teaching, leading and helping others achieve their goals was my guiding post to finding my next adventure. I researched various brands that would not only coincide with my engineering background, but would also help educate the youth. Mathnasium Learning Center seemed like just the type of purpose-driven business I was searching for because of its ability to meet the surging demand for math tutoring, helping kids understand math using its proprietary teaching methods like the Mathnasium Method, and providing hope and encouragement for thousands of kids struggling with math in schools today.

My wife, Pamela, and I decided to work together once we found the perfect fit, where she would own the business and I would operate it full-time as the center director. Not only did Mathnasium align with our values and interest, but the company also values veterans, offering qualified U.S. veterans and active military a full $10,000 off the initial franchise fee, which is a 25% discount. The corporate team saw our dedication to the brand’s mission right away and knew my military training provided unique experience in leadership, time management, adapting to change, following a process and discipline—a recipe for a successful business.

My time in the military gave me the skills I needed to succeed as a business operator. The disciplinary culture of the military has influenced my leadership style at Mathnasium. With so many tasks to accomplish in the day, having a defined system in place is vital to the success of operating a business. With franchising, you are provided a blueprint and all you have to do is follow it properly in order to provide the best experience and drive results.

The extreme focus and attention to detail it takes to be an honorable instructor pilot is very similar to how I like to lead my staff and generally operate the center. Being aware of not only your strengths, but your weaknesses, is key to running a successful business. Similar to the military, when you can rely on different individuals on your team based on their specific strengths, then you have an unstoppable, well-oiled machine.

Not only was I engrained in STEM growing up, and eventually received an engineering degree, but I knew as my wife and I decided on a franchise, the best career options for students entering college today means they have to go into a STEM-based discipline (science, technology, engineering and math). By investing in Mathnasium, I’m helping kids understand math in a digestible way and always helping them shape their futures. My hope is to encourage students and show them that math can be fun and incredibly rewarding down the road.

My degree in engineering has taken me far past my expectations, and I hope to show students just how valuable learning these key skills is. When parents drop their kids off at our Mathnasium center, not only are they trusting that we are teaching math in a fun and understandable way, but they are investing in their child’s future.

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