Meet Will Cross.
U.S. Army Officer turned transformational agile leader, Will, is blazing his trail in Northern Virginia.
Since joining the U.S. Army in 1994, Will has served his country in a number of ways from managing tactical reconnaissance overseas to building talent management software to leading a platoon in Iraq as an Airborne Infantry Combat Rifle Platoon Leader.
The Fairfax County Economic Development Authority sat down with Will to learn more about his career, his experience transitioning out of the military and into a civilian career, and why all roads led him to Northern Virginia.
Thanks for sitting down with us, Will. So, what brought you to Northern Virginia in the first place?
About a decade ago, I received my first assignment to Northern Virginia. I served in a few different roles here on and off for the past ten years: I worked on the Department of the Army staff, I was a student at Fort Belvoir’s satellite campus for the United States Army’s Command and General Staff College, and I helped to build the Army’s talent management software.
Why did you choose to stay in the region once you transitioned out of your role in the military?
Northern Virginia—aside from being beautiful—is the top area in the nation for federal employment. It’s also a thriving tech hub with companies like Apple, Microsoft, Google, Amazon, the list goes on. From an employment perspective in the tech industry, that’s a definite reason why I would want to work here. Regarding reasons why I would want to live here, Northern Virginia is home to the No. 1 fittest city in America: Arlington. This may be attributed to the area’s adoption of bike lanes, parks, and fitness facilities. The area is home to more than 500 trails not including the Shenandoah National Park. Another reason to live here would be the top-ranked schools spanning for pre-school to high school. I could go on, but Northern Virginia has everything that you need to further your personal life, your professional life, and that of your family’s.
Can you speak to what it was like transitioning out of the military and into your civilian career in the region?
Northern Virginia was a great place to transition out of the military for several reasons. First, you can find dozens—if not hundreds—of advocates who can and want to help you…whether it’s helping to obtain your Veteran’s Affairs disability rating to utilizing your Post-9/11 GI Bill which helps cover costs for school or job training, or simply finding a friend to talk to who knows exactly what you’re going through.
There are also a lot of support systems thanks to our proximity to Joint Base Myer-Henderson Hall and Ft. Belvoir right here in Northern Virginia. There really are ample opportunities for every transitioning service member to find assistance for their health, wellness, and their professional future, such as participating in the DoD SkillBridge program or the Hiring Our Heroes Corporate Fellowship Program, as I did.
Switching gears here, we have to ask: What is your perfect weekend in Northern Virginia?
I would start off a perfect Saturday morning hiking at Mt. Vernon, even walk around George Washington’s home, or get in some hiking on the trails at Great Falls.
Then, in the afternoon, I would take my family to a museum such as the National Children’s Museum in Washington, D.C., or the National Air and Space Museum in Chantilly to get the kids out and engaged (and walk around so the kids are tired out when we get home!).
Finally, I would go on a date with my lovely wife to one of the high-end movie theaters with reclining seats and indulge in an (adult) beverage. That would be the perfect Saturday!