Starting Over with the Right Training for a New Collar Career

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When Felicia Barnett left the Air Force, she did not believe she would find another role that met her personal passion for service. After successfully completing IBM’s skills training program, she now enjoys using cutting edge technology to help protect consumers’ financial data in her role as a senior business analyst for TD Bank. IBM’s Veterans Employment Initiative provides software training, certification and job placement assistance to veterans pursuing careers as data analysts. IBM experts lead five-day training sessions at dozens of locations each year, featuring IBM i2® Analyst’s Notebook® software. Part of our Impact Grants portfolio, the initiative works with Corporate America Supports You (CASY) and Military Spouse Corporate Career Network (MSCNN) to host sessions and recruit qualified participants. The program has certified more than 500 veterans in the United States, United Kingdom and Canada, and helped to place many into jobs. As we approach Veterans Day, IBM is proud to engage and assist those who have served – not just today, but every day.


Starting over is never easy, but I was fortunate to get the right opportunity at the right time to harness my passion for protecting people into service through a new-collar career in the private sector. The key was developing the right skills to transition successfully from the military.

I served in the United States Air Force for eight years as a staff sergeant, where I conducted IT work and tactical and combat communications. During the last four years of my service, I worked in special operations with both the Navy and Army Special Forces. I traveled all over the world programming to ensure that deployed service members could communicate on the ground and in the air.

In 2010, I left the military to focus on my family and pursue a career in the private sector. While I was unclear of the path ahead, I was confident that the technical and leadership skills I had built during my military career would translate into corporate America. However, like many veterans, I found the transition to the civilian workforce was harder than I thought, since I had entered the military almost immediately after high school. After leaving the Air Force with eight years of IT experience programming routers and switches under some of the worst conditions imaginable, I came back home, put together a resume and sent out applications, but couldn’t get an interview. It was pretty hard.

The author on deployment.

I enrolled in college, but after a year, I felt an itching to return to work. While maintaining a full class load, I made use of my project management skills and secured a job at TD Bank North America as a project specialist in fraud management. It was during that time – while attending a career fair for veterans – that I first learned of a free skills training opportunity through IBM’s Veteran Employment Accelerator program. The week-long intensive program includes training and certification in cutting edge IBM software (i2 Analyst’s Notebook), which helps financial institutions detect and fight fraud. I signed up and became a certified data analyst.

The program’s interactive setting exposed me to real-world examples that in turn led to real-world applications. I quickly gained technical proficiency on fraud detection capabilities which I used in ongoing projects.

The certification helped me propel my career as an expert in IBM software to help protect consumers from financial fraud. In my current role as a senior business analyst, I play a significant role within TD Bank’s North American Fraud Analytics team, and am spearheading the implementation of a new IBM cloud analytics platform. I plan to continue to advance my skills by honing techniques in IBM’s predictive analytics software to help improve customer satisfaction and manage risk.

After leaving the military, I never thought I would find a job that could meet my personal passion for service. Yet after five years in consumer data protection, I found purpose in a second career that makes me excited to go to work every day. The free IBM skills training I received helped equip me with the tools to accelerate my career track. In addition, I find so much value in what I am doing. Just like serving in the military, I am protecting people, which is my passion.

An Air Force veteran and mother of four, Felicia Barnett is a Senior Business Analyst with the North American Fraud Analytics team of TD Bank – a participating partner in IBM’s Veterans Employment Initiative.

Related Resources:

Preparing Veterans for Rewarding New Collar Careers

From the Frontlines of the Army to Cybersecurity

Learn More About IBM’s Veterans Employment Initiative

Find Out More About Corporate Responsibility at IBM

Senior Business Analyst, North American Fraud Analytics Team, TD Bank

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