Today is Veteran’s Day; a day to thank our service members past and present, for their sacrifice while serving.
One of the veterans we would like to thank today is Tim Graczewski. A former Lieutenant in the Naval Reserve, he spent a year as lead economic development advisor at NATO’s Regional Command South Headquarters in Kandahar, Afghanistan. Leaving his wife and young son stateside, he served in a variety of duties, including helping small business owners by assisting pomegranate farmers to export their harvests to Dubai.
When he deployed, Tim was working for Intuit, in the company’s Quickbooks division. We’re proud that he is now part of the Nav team, and serves as vice president of strategy and business development. Tim is focusing his relentless energy on helping small business owners succeed by making it easier for them to access the capital and tools they need to manage their financial health.
Following is an excerpt from an article Tim wrote for Fortune.com upon his return from duty in 2011. You can also read about his experiences overseas on the blog he maintained while he was serving. (There’s an especially unforgettable post he wrote about the day the vehicle he was on patrol in rolled over an IED that didn’t go off.)
We thank Tim and all our other veterans for their service today.
Silicon Valley to Kandahar and back: An executive’s year in Afghanistan
Many veterans come back desperate to forget. I’m desperate to remember.
Last summer at this time, I was living with five other guys in an aluminum cube the size of a one-car garage in southern Afghanistan, enduring the scorching heat, powdery dust and rocket attacks that are routine for troops in Kandahar.
I’ve been back at work for six months now. There’s one obvious similarity between my life in Afghanistan and my life in the San Francisco Bay area, where I head Intuit’s QuickBooks and Payroll products internationally: constant interaction with small-business owners. Not so obvious to me until recently are the ways that my “down range” experience resonates and shapes my life today.
Much to my surprise, my tour taught me that small-business owners across the world are pretty much the same. Those in Kandahar province may have less formal education than their American counterparts, but they are every bit as passionate. And they struggle with similar challenges: attracting and retaining new customers, delicately collecting delinquent payments, securing supplies, raising new capital, and battling government bureaucracy. If anything, these men (and they were all men) grasp capitalism on an even more visceral level than Americans do.