Cassie Morris, a Sales Development Representative based out of Durham, NC, comes from a military family, meaning serving her country is deeply ingrained in her beliefs. She considered enlisting right out of high school, but her Aunt, an Officer in the US Army encouraged her first to attend college. She earned her degree in Geography but couldn’t shake her desire to join the military.
“Every two to three years, probably since I graduated from college, I talked to a recruiter in some way, shape, or form in different branches,” Cassie said.
Uniting with her unique community at Nutanix
When she started working at Nutanix nearly two years ago, although continuing to talk with recruiters, Cassie also started talking to co-workers she met through Project Victory, the Nutanix LIFE Group uniting in support of veterans and their families.
“They told me if you're gonna do it, do it now, or you're gonna regret it,” Cassie said. With that encouragement and support, she made the leap and applied to the Army’s Officer Candidate School. “I went for it, and I’m so happy I did.”
She signed in July 2021 but didn’t have to report to basic training until January 2022. That’s when she leaned heavily on Project Victory. As Cassie spent time volunteering with Project Victory on event planning and coordination, she saw firsthand how the LIFE Group would rally around her decision, offering advice from their personal unique experiences.
“It was phenomenal because so many people reached out to me, and gave me tips, tricks, and things they went through when they were active in the military,” Cassie said. “It really helped prepare me, so I wasn't walking in without any knowledge and knew I had a strong support group to rely upon.”
Mariah Melligan, a Federal Account Manager, is part of that support, offering advice through a common lens. After spending six years in the Marine Corps herself, she immediately joined the North Carolina National Guard, where she continues to serve.
“I told her I could help with the fitness test because I evaluate and grade for the National Guard. Also, as a woman, you go through different things, being in basic training and in the field,” Mariah said.
That guidance proved essential, and even more so now that Cassie is back at work. Both say re-entering into civilian life can be emotionally difficult.
“Every day for seven or eight months, I didn’t have my own life or schedule. Everything was pre-planned at a designated time. So that was an adjustment,” Cassie explained.
Finding the right solutions to unique problems
When an employee goes out on military leave, their job is protected, but not all companies pay the difference between their military pay and civilian job salary like Nutanix. In 2018, Scott Ragsdale, who leads the Americas Healthcare business, formed Project Victory, and Nutanix CIO, Wendy Pfeiffer, signed on as Executive Sponsor.
An employer is not required to pay an employee on military leave of absence, but Nutanix offers six months of paid leave, which is reduced by military pay. This six-month pay differential was one of Scott’s first priorities after forming Project Victory.
“In some cases, incomes get cut in half or a third, maybe, and they still have all the bills. Maybe they're leaving a spouse to watch the kids, and he or she has to come up with the mortgage every month, in addition to the stress that goes along with this decision,” Scott said.
Since 2019, ten Nutanix employees have taken military leave, giving these employees and their families a little extra piece of mind while serving in the military.
Ensuring the pay is one thing, but for Cassie, whenever she had a paperwork issue or other benefits question, it was addressed quickly by her HR representative. “Sometimes I was in the field for two weeks doing a training exercise and being offline. It was amazing that they monitored things for me,” Cassie explained.
With our company, I’ve never heard anyone say, ‘we wish you weren’t going.’ It's always, we support you and what you're doing.
Cassie compares the benefits of military leave to maternity or paternity leave. While not as common as going out on leave after the birth or adoption of a child, educating co-workers and managers is key. That expectations are clear when an employee goes on military leave and comes back. Just like parents have other responsibilities, so does Cassie. That doesn’t mean she’s not committed to her work at Nutanix.
“I don't feel like I’ll ever have to decide between the two. I've never felt that way, and am even assured by others who have been in the reserves or the National Guard for a while” Cassie shared.
“With our company, I’ve never heard anyone say, ‘we wish you weren’t going.’ It's always, we support you and what you're doing.”
While her military occupation is unique to her sales career, with Nutanix and the support of Project Victory she can continue to do both. Nutanix supports her because it's the right thing to do. This highlights one of the reasons why U.S Veterans Magazine named Nutanix as one of the top veteran-friendly companies in 2022.
Cassie has finished Basic Training and Officer Candidate School. She earned her Commission as a 2nd Lieutenant in the U.S. Army, but she’s not finished with her schooling. She still has an 18-week course to become branch certified as a Military Police Officer.
Thanks to Cassie for sharing her story! See why thousands of the unique are uniting to live the #LifeAtNutanix. To learn more about our team, culture, and career opportunities at Nutanix, visit our careers page. For more information on our programs for veterans, click here.
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