Leading the Way

Veteran Profile: Wilson uses Air Force experience to lead at Unum

Pipan Wilson, a Lead Disability Benefit Specialist/Client Liaison, has been with Unum for 17 years and is chair of the company’s Veterans Networking Group (VNG). Prior to joining the company, she served as a Medical Service Technician in the United States Air Force.

Pipan and other Unum employee veterans are working to bring veterans together to support each other through mentoring and networking, volunteering in the community and assisting in the recruitment and on-boarding of veterans. With more than 150 members, the VNG has representation from all five branches of the military and consists of employees with more than 30 years at the company as well as many in their first year of employment.

Here in a Q&A with WorkWell, Wilson talks about what she learned during her time in the Air Force and how she’s using that experience to excel in the corporate world.

WorkWell: What did your time in the military teach you and how are you applying what you learned to your corporate life?

Pipan: One of the best things our military does for service members is help each individual discover their natural leadership qualities. Most people come into the service at young age and when they go through basic training, as well as any additional training, they truly learn what they’re capable of achieving. My training taught me to be able to take nothing and make it into something by being adaptive, flexible and strong (mentally, emotionally and physically). The Air Force is considered the think tank of the branches, so you receive early-stage knowledge-based training. On top of learning your assigned career job, you’re also trained for additional leadership roles. This helped me in my corporate career and in my ability to multi-task, develop plans with a goal and predict outcomes that might not have been seen or imagined. Furthermore, the military teaches you to create your opportunities versus waiting on them.

WorkWell: As you transitioned to your corporate career, what impressed you about Unum?

Pipan: Early in my career, I learned that when our customers need us, it’s more than just a simple transaction of submitting a claim for benefits. The insurance products we provide are important to our customers because they protect their livelihoods during sometimes very difficult times. I was also impressed by the way our employees treated our customers with empathy and respect.

As chair of the VNG, I’ve seen more transparency from our leadership, which is amazing! I like their fresh take on what is working, what we could be doing better and how we can move forward when mistakes are made by simply listening, learning and being accountable.

WorkWell: How has the transition from the military to corporate America been and has Unum made it easy?

Pipan: I came to Unum in 2001, but I’ve been in the workforce since 1993. I was able to take skills from each employment opportunity and use them in my current role at Unum. One thing I can truly say about Unum is that they do appreciate each individual employee. Unum definitely can wear the “family” hat when it comes to making sure you’re happy, while at the same time holding you accountable for contributions to the overall business mission.

WorkWell: Is there anything else about your military career that you’d like to share?

Pipan: Having served in the USAF and being an Operation Storm veteran, I loved every minute and opportunity I had in the military. The medical training I received made my completion of my Pre-Medicine degree pretty easy!  Furthermore, the friendships I made and the places I lived are things I would never trade for anything.  But the most valuable thing I inherited from my service is the pride of protecting this beautiful country alongside our other military branches – that is priceless.