Cool Jobs: Dell VP Uses Skills Learned in Military to Achieve Corporate Success

West Point grad finds fulfillment using vital leadership qualities in the C-suite

Mel Parker, a vice president at Dell, uses vital skills he learned as a military vet in Corporate America.

We have good news for you. You can have a cool career and make a good living. No need to choose between loving your job and paying your mortgage. The following profile, part of the BlackEnterprise.com Cool Jobs series, offers a peek into the nuts and bolts, perks and salaries behind enjoyable careers.

The Process: Mel Parker, a vice president and general manager at Dell, starts his mornings in the corporate world at a time reminiscent of his military days. “Usually, I get up at 5 a.m.,” says Parker, a West Point grad. After checking in on his business and personal e-mail and social media accounts, the next step is typically the gym or the airport. Parker’s workdays are packed from sun up to down. “My job revolves around three key pillars: taking care of customers, managing the business and leading/connecting with the team,” says Parker, who is often in back-to-back meetings from 7 a.m. to 6 p.m.


The Vision:
The transition from military life to corporate offices was not difficult for Parker. “Inspirational leadership, strong credibility, good decision-making, mutual trust, integrity and honor resonate in both worlds and are critical to achieving success,” says the decorated combat veteran. Parker believes that Dell in particular is a good fit for him because the company’s brand is in perfect alignment with his personal brand. Dell was recently recognized by Diversity Inc., for being one of the Top 50 Companies for Diversity.

The It Factor: Large, well-established companies and scrappy start-ups are equal competitors in today’s digital age, but Parker believes Dell—which he calls the world’s biggest small business—has something special to offer.  “No other technology company connects with business customers like Dell,” Parker says. “We connect organizations of all sizes with the best in class technology services and solutions they need to help their business thrive.”

The Defining Moment: Parker’s defining moment in his career came when he got his first corporate job at PepsiCo. The vice president of human resources gave him two pieces of advice that he still uses today. “The first thing is to embrace every opportunity for a challenging job,” Parker says.  “And the second thing is that when you are hiring someone, the most important qualities to look for are leadership, integrity and intellectual horsepower.”

The Life: “I’ve been surprised at how many skills I thought were military-only nuances that have made a huge difference in my corporate career such as creating mutual trust and credibility, taking care of your team and being fit and healthy,” Parker says.  “For the type and length of days I have in the corporate world, staying engaged and alert is just as critical at 6 p.m. as it is at 7 a.m.

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