College of Business
Business Graduate’s Army Career Fulfilling
Michael Zequeira rose through the ranks in the U.S. Army. Now a Captain promotable to Major, his commands have taken him to the Middle East and Eastern Europe, but he’s never forgotten lifelong lessons learned as a student in the Anderson University College of Business. Upon graduating from Anderson, Michael worked in corporate jobs initially. While he was making a good living, his career wasn’t fulfilling. He also missed being in the kind of team atmosphere he enjoyed while playing for the Trojans Baseball Team. So Michael decided to become part of a team accomplishing a most important mission. Now, many years into his Army service, Michael feels that his Anderson University education has prepared him well in terms of managing people and resources, working as a team to preserve freedom.
How did you discover Anderson University?
I grew up in South Florida. I was looking for a place to play baseball in college and I had some initial offers, and then some things fell through with some of the initial offers that I had. One of the guys that I worked out with, my trainer at the time, played at Anderson. He was good friends with coach Jason Rutland at the time. He got me linked up with Coach Rutland. I came up for a visit, loved the area and loved the campus. I was kind of looking to get out of Florida. I wanted to see something different for four years. Not that there was anything wrong with Florida—I just wanted to expand my horizons, so it really came down to Anderson and a couple of other schools, and the scholarships available to me at Anderson really made it the most financially intelligent decision, so I ended up going with Anderson.
What are your favorite memories of being at AU?
I actually came up here with three other guys from my hometown. We all grew up playing baseball together. There was another guy who actually hosted me on my visit, Luis Martinez. I think my best memories are just hanging out with those guys, going to practice, hitting Bojangles before practice... The friends I made there I still have to this day.
How has your AU experience helped you professionally?
You know, I think time management was really something, I don't want to say I mastered; I don't know how you ever really master it. But time management at Anderson was something that I really honed. I actually worked on campus as well, and then classes. Obviously I had a lot of lot of demands on my time, so I got good at prioritizing tasks… and that's really been a key factor in kind of my success in the Army… being able to manage the myriad of tasks that come in, spin multiple plates at the at a same time, and then prioritizing tasks.
I think the other thing at Anderson was learning to overcome setbacks. Rut will tell you I had a number of injuries when I was playing there, so I did not get to play as much as I would have liked to. Obviously I planned on playing in college and it set me back.
There's a lot of failure in the army that leads to success, so learning how to take setbacks, take things that don't go as well as you would like them to and kind of redirect that energy into doing better or finding a better area to succeed in.
Any professors you want to give a shout out to who made a lasting impact?
Dr. Gordon Smith! I absolutely loved every class I took with him doing the extra curriculars with him. We went to church together a couple of times. He was just a phenomenal all-around professor. He really invested in not just the academic success of his students, but the whole person concept.
Tell me about you when you entered the Army.
There's a couple of factors. My dad was a Navy Reserve officer. My brother was actually a 20 year Army officer as well. One of the things I missed was the team atmosphere of organized sports.
While I was on a mission trip-Center for Economics trip down to Honduras that Dr. Smith led, I read a book… about how force can actually be a means of stabilization and peace for a country. One of the factors of economic success is security, and if you don't have security, you're not going to drive to have any kind of good business if somebody is just going to vandalize your business, etc. And the book I was reading talked about the things that could be done and the problems around the world that could be solved by the small amount of NATO or US forces, and how it could allow people to know more peace. Between that, not loving the corporate job that I was in, and missing the team atmosphere, the military seemed like the best place to go. The Army provided me the most breadth of opportunity, especially with it being the largest force.
I appreciate your service. Can you share some highlights of what you've done with the army?
Probably my top highlight, I would say... I’ve had two company commands. My first command was a tactical military intelligence company of the 10th Mountain Division. I had 110 soldiers under me and was responsible for preparing them to do their job in combat to do their military intelligence job in combat. Really just helping them all grow as leaders—that is a year of my time in the Army that I will never forget. When you lead an organization like that and you see growth in people, it's very rewarding.
And it was really rewarding to see some of the people who were not as far along in their skill set or their craft when I took over and the leaps and bounds they made from the time that I took over the company, I started looking at a new direction and the progress they made—that was super rewarding. I had just come back from Afghanistan at the time, so I had seen what you needed to do in order to be successful, in order to ultimately make sure that the people that you deployed with came back alive, because that's really the goal—bring everybody home.
In 2017 I was part of the first Army Armor (Tank) brigade to deploy to Europe after Russia invaded Crimea. We were the first American tanks in Poland since World War II. And then five months in the Baltics, so the joint training and the joint camaraderie with your NATO partners, it was really enlightening… Especially in the Baltics. In 1989 they were still part of the Soviet Union, so there's a lot of fresh memories of what communism meant to them. They've seen the other side. They've been a part of NATO for a while. So, their appreciation for the things that we sometimes take for granted as Americans is refreshing, enlightening and definitely invigorating.
At the end of the day, what gives you a real sense of accomplishment?
At the end of the day, going home to my family and knowing that whatever decisions, whatever briefings I've made during the day were with the best interest of the American Soldier in mind. Right now as a test officer I and a team of people design operational tests for new equipment. I'm actually getting ready to leave that job and head to the War College for a year. When I'm designing a test, my thought processes are “Is this realistic in combat? Is this design going to stress the system enough for the people who made the fielding decisions to say, hey, this can be fielded and this is successful?” Really, that's what I've done or tried to do, at least for the entire 10 years, is make the best decision for soldiers.
So whether as a company commander and you're directing how you want to train the company, or as a test officer and designing an operational test, if you can go home and lay your head down at night, and say, “Hey, I've made the best decision for American soldiers,” I think that they usually have a sense of accomplishment for that.
So I understand that you’re currently stationed in Arizona.
Yes, at Fort Huachuca.
What's been your favorite place to live?
Fort Carson, Colorado. The base at Fort Carson is at 6,300 feet. Colorado Springs was absolutely my favorite place and had everything you needed as a family, everything you need as a single person and then, I just love the outdoors stuff, so I got really into skiing when I was there. I could fish, I could hunt.
So you're sticking with the Army for a while?
My plan is definitely to go 20 years, and then you know, after my 20 I will keep serving as long as the army will have me.
What kind of advice would you give somebody who might be considering the possibility of a military career?
Talk to people that are in the military and not just a recruiter… Find out if there's a niche for you, because a lot of people think the army is just infantrymen and tankers and blowing stuff up and going to war... The Army has engineers—not just combat engineers—we have software engineers, system engineers. Just about any job you could think of in a civilian sector, we've got and the benefits are phenomenal. And the people that you meet are phenomenal.