Connecting with Service Members on Career Day

TECO Veterans Alliance members proudly participate in Operation Partnership: Civilian Career Day. (Left to right) Chris Chambers, Bruce Napier, Sandy Clawson, Melvin Azofeifa, Robert Stroud and Scott Cannon.

The TECO Veterans Alliance (TVA) Employee Resource Group is here to support past and present military personnel across our community. As participants in Tampa Bay Chamber’s Operation Partnership: Civilian Career Day, the TVA recently gave transitioning service member Melvin Azofeifa an opportunity to spend a half day at work with TECO team members.

“This was such an eye-opening experience for me,” said Melvin. “I was able to see areas of Tampa Electric that I never knew existed and create a better understanding of what career opportunities are available.”

Melvin was born in Costa Rica and has called Tampa Bay home since 1988. After spending nearly 14 years in the U.S. Navy as a Chief Personnel Specialist, the Gaither High School alum is currently transitioning to civilian life.

That transition is where Operation Partnership steps in to assist service members. On Aug. 30, various military personnel spent the day shadowing companies throughout Tampa. Melvin started his day at TECO’s Ybor Data Center, where he met multiple TVA members and sat in on the Supervisor Essential Program class. This program was created by TECO’s Senior Administrator of Organizational Development Bruce Napier (Air Force veteran) and was co-facilitated by TECO’s Distribution Design & Engineering Director Scott Cannon (Navy veteran). Melvin later met with TVA Executive Sponsor David Nicholson and received in-depth tours of the Technology Operation Center, the Central Monitoring Station and the Energy Control Center.

“I was impressed to see how much TECO invests in their employees. Leadership classes like this are such a great way to develop from within,” said Melvin.

Between professional development and community outreach, it’s clear that the company’s culture falls in line with Melvin’s own core values. Proof: he previously participated in the TVA’s community outreach when TECO volunteers beautified a World War II veteran’s property .

Those same values are why TECO’s Telecommunication Operations Supervisor Robert Stroud fell in love with Tampa Electric after serving 30 years in the Air Force.

“Much like the military, TECO provides a critical service to the public,” said Robert. “Our society needs power, and we have to provide it in an efficient way.”

Robert retired as a Chief Master Sergeant in 2011 and joined Tampa Electric in 2012. With only 1 percent of enlisted Air Force personnel earning that status, Stroud retired as the highest-ranking enlisted grade possible.

“All of my adult life was spent in the military. I would pack my bags on a whim, be sent all over the world and didn't even know where I was headed.” said Robert. “But for that entire duration, it was always clear what my assignments were. Just like working at TECO, we always knew our mission.”

Melvin Azofeifa (red shirt) visits the Supervisor Essential Program training at the TECO Ybor Data Center.