Career Notes 6.5.22
Ep 103 | 6.5.22

Laura Hoffner: Setting your sights high. [Intelligence]


Laura Hoffner: My name is Laura Hoffner and I'm the Executive Vice President at Concentric.

Laura Hoffner: I decided in seventh grade I wanted to be a Naval Intelligence Officer for SEAL teams and just did not waiver from that. It was so specific, my goodness. So originally joining the Navy was based off of my grandfather, who was drafted in World War II, and he was a Surface Warfare Officer in the Navy, and he made it sound so exciting, and I knew I wanted to travel the world. Then I wanted to combine my obsession with learning languages and learning other cultures, and that I wanted to do it in the biggest pressure cooker that I could think of at that time. I knew I didn't want to be a SEAL. I just wanted to be around SEALs.

Laura Hoffner: So I really focus on languages specifically, and then really trying to understand a human plate for lack of better words. So being in those crisis situations with humans and making myself very much used to that and responding to it. So I went to Wake Forest University. I graduated with communication science degree and I specialized in hostage negotiation. Um, and then I also had a double minor in Chinese and Spanish and while I was at Wake Forest, I studied abroad in Taipei Taiwan to study Chinese and then also Ferrara Italy to study some Italian. So it was just trying to expand my scope as much as possible linguistically and culturally. While also focusing on that crisis aspect.

Laura Hoffner: So as soon as I graduated college, I went to Officer Candidate School and I had applied as an Intelligence Officer. So normally when you're applying for the Navy, you give them your top three jobs that you'd be willing to do and I just put Naval Intelligence Officer. That was all I wanted to do, and luckily they approved my application. So I immediately went to Officer Candidate School and then off to Intelligence School thereafter. Coming from a not military family, my grandfather was in, but his stories were minimal. So it was very eyeopening, uh, quite the culture shock, but I absolutely loved it. I was fascinated by the prospect of it.

Laura Hoffner: Within a couple of months, um, I left Intelligence School early to deploy to Afghanistan, um, in support of a special operations task force out there, which was a bit ironic because once I joined the Navy the summer before, my mother and all of her sweetness said she was only going to quote end quote, allow me to join the Navy because there was no ocean in Afghanistan. So there I was four months later in Afghanistan, unfortunately. Um, so that was my first of five trips to Afghanistan. Um, and when I came back, I was able to do an amazing tour in Washington, DC at the Office of Naval Intelligence and then went over to SEAL Team 7 in, uh, San Diego, California for a couple of years where I was able to do a couple of more pumps out to Afghanistan. Then moved out to Stuttgart Germany, um, where the Navy definitely held up their bargain of join the Navy, see the world. So I was able to travel and work in about 57 countries in those few years, and then I finished my active duty career as a Naval Intelligence Officer, again for SEAL teams based out of Virginia Beach for my last three years, um, and that ended just in 2020.

Laura Hoffner: So I had goals, of course, in seventh grade of doing the Intelligence Officer at SEAL teams, and so was able to get to the billet where it's kind of the culmination of what you can do as an Intelligence Officer supporting the SEAL teams directly. And then so I was able to finish that tour in 2020 and after that, there's hardly a billet that's going to live up to that one. So I really wanted to end on that high. I'm still a Reservist, um, and drilling out of Washington state now, but ultimately wanted to move over. There's so much that I wanted to do in the crisis and security world and was able to take advantage of this opportunity with Concentric immediately there after.

Laura Hoffner: So originally my boss is Mike Lefevre, who's a retired three-star Admiral and Roger Jones, who's a brilliant entrepreneur based out of San Francisco. They completely took a chance on me, someone coming from just 12 years of military experience and going to the civilian sector has a lot to learn that's for sure. So originally I was hired as an executive assistant, and then moved on to chief of staff within a couple of months, which was a role that I hadn't considered, but is exactly what you do as an intelligence officer. When you're supporting those SEAL teams, you have to do a little bit of everything, talk to everybody, have good relationships, and truly understand what the strategic intent is and the tactical execution of it. Um, so I genuinely enjoyed my chance as chief of staff with Concentric and then just last week, I moved over to being the executive vice president of risk solutions. So continuing to expand the purview of what I'm doing with the company and ultimately just incredibly benefiting from unbelievable mentors at the company itself.

Laura Hoffner: Well actually the SEAL teams really teach you to set your ego aside, if you are not a SEAL at the SEAL teams, you are not quite up to snuff. So ego was that really quite an issue throughout the career, but then thereafter you think that you're going to be able to go and do certain things when you get out and you have to take a chance just like they're taking a chance on you.

Laura Hoffner: I would say, do not waiver, so when I came home in seventh grade and told my mom that that was going to happen, I think she just laughed at me. Um, and I knew specifically I wanted to deal with hostage rescue on hostage negotiations, which I was able to do, but at the time, Mom didn't think that that was an actual job in the world. So it was a matter of knowing exactly what I wanted to do and bore sighting on that, which is normally seen as a negative. But, I figured even if I couldn't make that happen, my goodness, what, what was I setting myself up for? It was only greatness that could come if I didn't quite make it where I want it to be. So set those sights high and do whatever you need to do in order to get there. Um, it sounds very cliche with that, but just don't waiver.

Laura Hoffner: In college specifically trying, I was originally tried to do that triple major in three years with three jobs in order to afford it and, um, unfortunately did not have the most fun at college. So when my kids go through college, they're going to be partiers, they're going to join the sorority or fraternity. They're going to truly enjoy their time because I screwed up on that aspect and didn't thoroughly enjoy it, the opportunity that I had there,

Laura Hoffner: You know, I, I hope that I get disassociated from the work, but I hope that during this time good things were done. So that was another reason for hanging up the active duty had at least was I will always be able to look back on those 12 years and know that I genuinely made a difference. People are safer because of what me and my team were doing. People are back home because of what we were able to do, their lives were saved and so I will, if I die tomorrow, we'll be very proud of everything that we were able to do as a team.