Saluting those who serve: Meet Lieutenant Commander Will Bowden

This Veterans Day, we’re proud to highlight one of our employees with an extensive military background: Lieutenant Commander Will Bowden of the U.S. Coast Guard Reserve, who has served in the military for the past 18 years.

Will served four years in the Navy as a military police officer. After the Navy, he transitioned to the Coast Guard Reserve, where he is currently serving today as the lieutenant commander assigned to U.S. Pacific Command responsible for policy and relations with Northeast Asia.

His role at Merck is a bit more business-like: Will is an associate director, Women’s Health Marketing. And although it would seem that there would be multiple differences between his military and corporate lives, Will swears he is constantly surprised by the similarities. “There have been times when I literally have to look down and see if I’m wearing a suit or a Coast Guard uniform because the discussion I am having had already occurred in the other organization,” he says. “The parallels between the military and business worlds are infinite.”

Will credits his military background for helping him to conquer any obstacles in his corporate life he may come across.  “Preparing for ambiguity is an art I learned in the military and I embrace at Merck,” he says “Remain calm, for the answer is always within reach.”

Three quick questions with Lieutenant Commander Will Bowden of the U.S. Coast Guard Reserve

Name a skill that you think is highly underrated in business today.
A completely different perspective. This is something that is appreciated and encouraged but not always readily found. Holding onto a different perspective or an ability to see things differently is something that has to be nourished and practiced, and, like anything else, we need to develop and command in life.

What is a misconception about the Coast Guard?
After the hurricanes, everyone asked me the same questions – “Are you going to Texas, Florida or Puerto Rico.” I think it is an intuitive question to ask anyone in the Coast Guard. However, in my case, I had actually been recalled to Pacific Command to work on strategy related to North Korea. Most people think of the Coast Guard as focusing on Drug Interdiction and Search and Rescue. And, while those missions are a huge part of what the Coast Guard does, we are also involved in literally every type of mission around the world, ranging from maritime assistance to special operations.

What’s one accomplishment that makes you especially proud?
With respect to my role in the military, I recently completed work that was key to a strategic relationship with China and that has implications on work with North Korea. At Merck, I am part of an amazing marketing team.

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Military recruiting

Merck offers numerous resources – including our Veterans Roundtable, an employee network designed to help veterans adjust to corporate life, make their transitions smooth and their work-life rewarding. With our generous military-friendly policies, we've received accolades from several organizations such as GI Jobs, Military Times Edge, and Employer Support of the Guard and Reserve (ESGR).

Learn more about military recruiting at Merck.