Comcast NBCUniversal was recently recognized by Military Times as the #3 best employer for veterans. With a commitment to hiring 21,000 members of the military community by the end of 2021, the global media and technology company is more than "military-friendly." It's "military ready." In this interview we talk about why Veterans may enjoy a career at Comcast NBCUniversal, what it’s like to be a test engineer, and how finding bugs and breaking products help ensure that customers don’t do either of these things. We talk about finding a community after the military, ways to give back, the unexpected struggles Veterans face in their military transition, and more.
Louis Daleandro is a Manager of New Product Introduction, Xfinity Mobile at Comcast. He served in the Navy for over 15 years, first as a Mess Specialist on board the USS Baton Rouge SSN 689. He then served from 1992- 1994 as part of the DECOM CREW where he was "SS qualified." He then transferred to the USS MCKEE AS-41, Submarine Tender based out of Point Loma, San Diego, CA. He also deployed overseas to support the war efforts for Operation Enduring Freedom- Noble Eagle. He has worked at Comcast for over seven years, and is a founding member of Comcast’s VetNet leadership team.
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Transcript & Time Stamps:
Joining me today from Philadelphia, PA is Louis Daleandro. Lou Daleandro is a Manager of New Product Introduction, Xfinity Mobile at Comcast. He served in the Navy for over 15 years, first as a Mess Specialist on board the USS Baton Rouge SSN 689. He then served from 1992- 1994 as part of the DECOM CREW where he was "SS qualified." He then transferred to the USS MCKEE AS-41, Submarine Tender based out of Point Loma, San Diego, CA. He also deployed overseas to support the war efforts for Operation Enduring Freedom- Noble Eagle. He has worked at Comcast for over seven years, and is a founding member of Comcast’s VetNet leadership team.
What was your first job search after the military like?
I left active duty in the mid-90s. Back then, the transition assistance program was a lot of sitting in a classroom and having a lot of information thrown at you for a couple days. After I separated, I went back home and tried to figure out what my next step would be. It was a difficult transition.
I know the TAPS program is a lot better now. Still, it has its ups and downs. I would encourage people on active duty getting ready to transition to take all the technology at their fingertips and start figuring out what you want to do. Do you want to go to school? Do you want to start working in a particular field? Start putting those pieces in place long before getting off active duty.
What eventually lead you to Comcast?
I was a Navy chef during my time in the military. At that time, that was my passion. After I got off of active duty, it was right around the time when internet was at the forefront of playing the major role in society that it does today. I was really intrigued by that so I decided that when I went to college after I left the military, I would study technology.
What does your role as a Manager of New Product Introduction look like?
I’m a systems test engineer focused on testing end-to-end processes for all products in Comcast’s small business space. For example, if we want to deploy a new internet product. After the developers develop it, all of our systems will get updated to reflect the new product. My job is to make sure those new systems are working in real time. We want to make sure the experience for the end user is working.
We’re doing more than quality assurance of code. We’re really digging into our systems, trying to find weaknesses. I’m always looking for ways we can be more efficient and build better systems.
Some people that are in the product management space believe that if they build a particular product, it will increase revenue or customer interest. They will take input from various other departments in order to make it a valuable product. My job is to make sure all those different groups are on the same page in order to create an effective product.
Comcast was ranked #3 on the Military Times list of Best Companies for Veterans. Why do you believe this is?
When I started here seven years ago, there were no Employee Resource Groups or Veterans Networks. So I got involved right away as soon as those groups were formed. It started small - our veteran employee resource group. There was no real Comcast program focused on hiring veterans. We started that initiative in 2012 and have grown to be a nation leading veteran supporting organization.
Our initiatives are focused not only on military and veterans but also military spouses. We also work on various community initiatives to support veterans in our local communities.
In addition to being named a top veteran employer by Military Times, we are also the recipients of the ESGR Freedom Award.
Comcast also has an ombudsman type position that works specifically with our National Guard and Reserve members. The men and women in these positions work with our Reservists to make sure they have everything the need before and during deployments.
What are the different divisions within Comcast?
Other than the Navy, this is the largest organization I’ve ever worked for. There are over 50 mini companies under the Comcast umbrella. Our breadth is anything from being in the mailroom to being in the executive suite. We’re more than just a cable company. We’re truly a cutting edge technology company. We’re building things now that will be the future of tomorrow.
If you’re thinking ‘Why would I want to work for Comcast?’ I started off in the Navy as a chef and now I’m working on testing software. So if you have any interest in working technology, there is probably a place for you here. We recently acquired the company Sky. We’re also do extensive work in television, cinema, and marketing. We also have a Comcast University which focuses on training and education. If you’re interested in sales, there are definitely opportunities there as well. So really, no matter what you’re interested in, there are possibilities here for you.
Can you talk a little bit more about VetNet?
We have 17 chapters across the United States - everywhere Comcast has a footprint. The majority of our members are veterans. Other members are veteran supporters and spouses.
VetNet aims to provide opportunities for interaction and activity amongst veterans in our Comcast network.
How does Comcast help newly onboarded veterans?
When we find out that we’ve onboarded a new veteran, we reach out to them to help them learn about different programs and support offered to veterans by Comcast. What we usually do is meet up for coffee with our new veteran employees to show them our support. They see right from the get-go that the camaraderie they enjoyed in the military will continue at Comcast.
It doesn’t matter if you’re an E-1 or a four star general, when you leave the military, your rank comes off. The transition can be difficult no matter who you are so knowing you have a support system can be very important during this time.
Can you talk a little bit more about your work with Beyond School Walls?
When I came to Comcast, I heard about the Beyond School Walls program. This program is backed by our Diversity and Inclusion team. We partner with local schools and we mentor students there. Each Comcast employee is matched with a student and over time, you build a mentoring relationship with that student. I’m a better person because of my participation in this program.
Can you talk about your career progression at Comcast?
I started out at Comcast as a product manager. From there, I learned a lot about the company and how many different departments and divisions there are. I then became a test engineer and eventually into program management.
If there’s something out there that interests you, apply for it. It’s never a guarantee but it’s worth putting yourself out there.
Are there any resources you would recommend?
Another book recommend is My Share of the Task by Stanley McChrystal.
One podcast I enjoy listening to is Warrior Dads. It’s about how to live a good, moral, wholesome life.
Is there anything else you’d like to share with listeners?
I signed my enlistment papers in high school and really loved my time in the military. When I got out, it was really difficult for me. Now that I’ve been at Comcast, I like to give back to veterans around me in need. It’s OK to accept help when you’re in need.