Am I the only one who looks back at their career and finds the lyrics to that old Talking Heads song creep into their brain? And you may ask yourself, “Well, how did I get here?” After four presidential campaigns, three PR firms, and two presidential appointments, I’d have called you insane if you told me I’d be working at a startup. That is, unless you told me about Shift5 – what they do, who they are, why they do it.

The Mission 

It’s the mission that first drew me to Shift5. After my time at the Department of Defense, I knew I wanted to stay connected to the military community and use my skills to continue protecting the warfighter. Shift5 is run by two ex-Army Cyber Command officers, and it’s packed to the brim with folks from all walks of military life. This company wasn’t started by a team that woke up one day and decided they wanted to start a company. It was started by a team that discovered a huge problem and decided that starting a company was the only way to solve it.  

The People  

When I started looking around, I knew my eclectic background might present problems for hiring managers. A lot of the companies I spoke with were interested but had no earthly clue what to do with me. But from the very first conversation, Shift5 was different. I spoke with nearly a dozen different people in different parts of the company, and it’s my sincere belief every one of them contributed to me ultimately joining. Shift5’s leadership team showed unparalleled creativity, flexibility, and wisdom during the hiring process – and they found the right role for me. This not only eased my short-term worries of landing somewhere that actually wanted me, but also proved that they’d be superbly capable of helping me evolve and grow over time. It’s certainly a great feeling coming into a new job and a new industry.  

The Problem

I mentioned that the company was founded as the result of a problem, not the other way around. While certainly a lot of companies start this way in good faith, a variety of factors may soon reveal that the original problem was easily solvable or being solved by someone else. That’s not the case here. Every conversation we have with customers reveals more detail about the intricate, multi-faceted problem this company is trying to solve: allowing weapons systems and combat vehicle operators to comprehensively understand how to protect and take care of their fleets in the age of hybrid war. It’s a long-term problem that’s not going away overnight, and Shift5 is uniquely positioned to solve it. Hence…  

The Product

I probably would have joined Shift5 after checking just those first two boxes: great people, big problem. Okay, let’s do it. But the cherry on top was that this company already had a viable solution. Shift5 is only a few years old, only conducted a couple of funding rounds, but already has a product. You can see it, you can hold it in your hands. You can install it on a vehicle and it will gather, compress, and translate mountains of onboard data. You can capture and retain every single frame of data, from every protocol, from every bus, forever. But what good is this data if you can’t see it? Shift5 also has a software solution that sorts and analyzes this data into immaculately clean and readable views – and FAST. These hardware and software solutions are in active deployment on multiple weapons systems and platforms across the DoD, right now.    

Taking all this into account – the mission, the people, the product – how could I have said no? It turns out that the question from that old Talking Heads song was quickly answered by the refrain: “same as it ever was.” Even though the view might be different, the challenge and the mission and the people at Shift5 have already made it feel like home.