United States Military Academy at West Point
(B.S., General Engineering)
“Because I am a product of West Point and the military,
I take it as a personal mission to do well on their behalf.
I’m not just placing individuals; I’m placing their families as well.”
Little boys often grow up dressing up like soldiers and playing with their friends. But for Nate Hope, that dream became a far more tangible goal when he saw a presentation from a West Point cadet while in his seventh grade class in Birmingham, Alabama. Nate had never seen anything like the impressive man standing before him. Both his persona and his presentation captured his imagination. That was it. He would go to West Point and become a proud member of the U.S. military.
But it was not quite that easy. While both of his brothers served in the military—in the Army and Marines in Vietnam—no one in his family had a college degree. Nate set out to change that. He focused on his grades. He became a battalion commander in his high school ROTC program. He volunteered for U.S. Representative Albert Lee Smith, Jr. from the 6th Congressional District in Alabama, who eventually garnered him the nomination he needed for applying to West Point. Early one morning, shortly after this 16th birthday, he received the call he’d been so anxiously awaiting. It was West Point. He was accepted. “I couldn’t even focus. I thought that I’d won the lottery.”
He pursued a degree in Engineering while there, and West Point turned out to be one of the best decisions he ever made. “It was everything I thought it would be and more. It was very challenging, but you especially appreciate the rewards after you graduate.” He developed great friendships at the Academy. “We all had the same common goal—to serve our country.”
His travels took him from Fort Still, where he served as a Field Artillery Officer; to Fort Polk, where he served with the 5th Infantry Division; and to Fort Benning, where he served in the Infantry Officers’ Advanced Course. It was at Fort Benning where he learned about Lucas Group. Some of his friends had positive experiences with the firm, and he got in touch with them to discuss his career options.
“When I graduated from West Point, I immediately had a platoon of 40 people and $15 million worth of equipment. Most of them were older and had 15-20 years experience in the military. You grow up fast.”
In 1992, he joined the company and has been with Lucas Group ever since. Early in his career, people often asked, “Why become a recruiter?” For Nate, the answer was simple. He found that Lucas Group values many of the same positive characteristics as the military— discipline, leadership, problem-solving skills, and persistence.
He also finds the Lucas Group culture to be both familiar and supportive. It’s a family culture but also embraces friendly competition, while rewarding recruiters who work together across the disciplines of various industries.
But he views his work with Lucas Group as far more than just a job.
As such, Nate finds it very important to understand the needs of each candidate. “I go well beyond simply placing people. I try to understand their backgrounds and motivations. I take a very consultative approach.” He believes that veterans have exactly what the U.S. workforce needs—leadership.
“The void in many organizations is not technical talent, it is leadership. And the U.S. military is corporate America’s biggest secret source of leadership talent.”
Using Skype and other technology, he is currently in the process of remotely helping an Army Aviation Officer get accepted into the management training program of a Fortune 500 company. While job interviews from the mountains of Afghanistan aren’t easy, this officer has great potential. Nate likes his chances.
He believes that Lucas Group is unique in its ability to really educate military officers about all of their career options. Much of that is due to the firm’s roots as a military transition placement firm. Like so many of his colleagues at Lucas Group, “I’ve been in their shoes and placed thousands of veterans over the years.”
When Nate isn’t working on behalf of his military brethren, he’s very much a family man. His oldest son is in the top-ranked Industrial and Systems Engineering program at Georgia Tech, and he coaches his two other sons’ basketball and baseball teams. Along with his brother, he also takes care of his mother, who lives close enough to enable him to do so. A member of Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Nate works with a lot of kids in the Atlanta community, helping them to think seriously about college. “Lots of inner city kids don’t think that they can do it. That’s why I talk to kids about choices in life. That was me. I still think back to seventh grade and the choice that I made then. I didn’t fully understand what West Point was then. But whatever it was, I wanted to be there.” Nate’s is a great story and in many ways a classic American success story. It would be good to do as he does…pass it forward.