Carlos Dinkins, a member of the Texas MBA Full-Time class of 2012, was recently named one of CivilianJobs.com’s Top 40 Under 40 Military, which recognizes the top service members who are serving or have served in the U.S. armed forces. I was recently able to catch up with Carlos, now a Category Manager for PepsiCo, to ask about the award and his experiences in the U.S. Army and at McCombs.
Carlos, congratulations on being recognized, I know it is well-deserved. Can you tell us what it means to you to be named one of the military’s “Top 40 under 40″?
Thank you! I greatly appreciate all the love and support coming from McCombs. The greatest honor of my life has been leading soldiers in combat and to be selected into this prestigious group of similar candidates is absolutely breathtaking.
Please tell us a little bit about your time in the military. What were some of your responsibilities?
I commissioned in the army in 2005 after graduating from Florida State University. After five months of initial training, I was stationed in Hawaii – within a year of graduating from FSU, I was in Iraq. I had the privilege to work at almost every level of the military as a junior officer, from the lowest tactical level as a platoon leader to one of the highest strategic levels as an Intelligence Aide to the Deputy Commanding General. The greatest responsibility however would definitely be as a platoon leader.
As previously mentioned, the greatest time I had in the military was the 13 months I spent as a leader of an Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV) platoon both in Hawaii and in Iraq. I was responsible for the health and welfare of 34 soldiers and the maintenance, inspection, and operations of four UAVs valued at over $16 million. UAVs, or “Drones” as they are known in popular culture, are increasingly becoming the most important asset to the ground warfighter, and I was fortunate to be blessed with 34 hard-charging, technically, and tactically proficient soldiers. Over the course of our deployment to Iraq in 2008-2009, we provided the absolute best, incident-free coverage, to the 4,000+ infantry brigade combat team, and were directly responsible for constructing and operating state of the art UAV antennae systems in some of the most volatile locations in Iraq. I still to this day get the largest smile on my face when I think about my platoon.
How did your military experience prepare you for a business career? What was the transition from the military to the corporate world like?
My father, a decorated Vietnam Veteran, always has a way of using acronyms to teach a lesson. I’m positive he learned that in the military because I do the same today. He always told me that “As a leader you have to be ‘F.A.I.R.’ at all times.” Flexible, Accountable, Inspirable, and Respectable. If there’s anything my father and the military taught me, it is how to be flexible with uncertainty, accountable for your actions, inspiring to those around you, and respected by your superiors, subordinates, and peers. My transition from the military to corporate was rather simple because I’ve never lost sight of that. It also didn’t hurt that I had the opportunity to spend two years learning at one of the greatest institutions in one of the greatest cities in this nation!
Would you encourage other service men and women to get their MBAs? If so, why?
Of course! Whenever a Veteran approached me while I was on the McCombs Admissions Committee, I told them the story of my best friends from FSU ROTC or Hawaii, and I framed the details around the phrase “100%.” 100% of my best friends, combat veterans of Iraq and Afghanistan that have earned their MBA are extremely successful in their business career. Whether it was former Captain Daniel Avenick at Chicago, Captain Alexi Holmberg at MIT, Captain Nicholas Padlo at Stanford (2010 Top 40 Under 40), Captain Alex Grace at Notre Dame, Captain Dustin Healey at Northwestern, Captain Frank Aburto at Cornell, or one of many others, they are all excelling at the best firms in the world – McKinsey, Bain, P&G, Bank of America, CSP Associates, and PepsiCo. 100% of us have honorably left the service and have successfully carried the core values of the military with us into the business sector.