His own experience of choosing a career in the military followed by work in IT with Fortune 500 and enterprise-level companies brought Robert Spencer to his current vocation as CEO of Third Phase.
Third Phase is a ServiceNow Authorized NextGen Training Partner. The NextGen program is a 12-week program offering technical training, certifications, and professional development to underserved communities with the goal of creating employment opportunities in the ServiceNow ecosystem.
The in-demand skills of IT service management, advanced systems administration, and project management by offering a path forward for people to a better and more lucrative life, including some in extremely tenuous life circumstances.
It used to be that an immigrant to a new country, especially a refugee, would have to settle for those positions traditionally requiring less skill or experience, regardless of their work qualifications back home.
In Australia, for instance, a group of refugees was able to receive highly competitive training by Third Phase Consulting so they did not have to resort to the lowest level service jobs.
“The group of people had been uprooted from their home country,” Spencer says.
Teaming up with a local non-profit, Spencer provided the group with a better opportunity than providing domestic help or entry-level restaurant work.
“People are hungry to learn, to pick themselves up and find that financial and emotional space they had before their lives were disrupted,” Spencer says.
What is behind the name “Third Phase?” It goes back to Spencer’s training in the Marine Corps. “After high school, it was the military or college,” Spencer says. “I chose the path all of the men in my family had gone through which was the military.”
When Spencer was a Marine in training, there were three distinct sections in the training process. There was a first phase of drilling, learning the basic skills while superiors assessed physical and mental condition. The second phase was learning the history of the Corps and building camaraderie with your platoon. The third phase, you synthesized what you have learned and to build on it.
“In the third phase, you’re learning that there are purposes behind everything that you’ve been faced with up until this point,” Spencer says.
The path from the military to tech consultancy is grueling.
“I had a difficult transition from the military after being discharged,” Spencer recalls. “I lost my father to lung cancer – he was 53 — just a week after my last day in the Marine Corps. In addition to the loss of his father, Spencer sustained an injury during his Marine Corps service, leaving him with a limp he still lives with.
“Being a disabled veteran was not going to deter me.”
In starting his business, Spencer saw the parallels between his Marine Corps training and what was needed for people seeking a path toward financial independence to gain the skills and training needed for today’s workforce.
This was the “third phase” of putting practical skills and learning into practice.
Prior to starting Third Phase in 2019, Spencer had worked in various IT leadership positions at Peregrine Systems, Hewlett-Packard, GlideFast, and ServiceNow for two decades.
“At ServiceNow, I taught classes on five continents allowing me to experience new cultures, and create a close network of contacts,” he says. “Those combined experiences, along with my military experience, are what laid the foundation for building Third Phase Consulting.”
The decision to start and grow the business was made simpler as remote learning has become the norm.
“Right now, I’m able to serve Fortune 500 companies along with academic institutions and non-profits from anywhere in the world.”
Recently, Spencer had the opportunity to teach a course for a group of Historically Black College and University (HBCU) graduates.
“These were people who had professional careers but were looking to make a change,” Spencer says. The HBCU graduates saw the chance to change course and gain skills in the digital world. Several weeks of ServiceNow training would prepare them for jobs that could relaunch their career trajectory.”
The intersectionality of his life and work has had an enormous impact on Spencer, his work, loved one and his life. As a Black American and disabled veteran with a background working among different cultures, Spencer takes his life experiences and provides a unique platform for people from a wide range of backgrounds.
Providing brand-new opportunities to financial security is what motivates and inspires Spencer to keep building his business.
“People may not have considered this path or even knew it was an option,” he says. “As I tell my story, people see their own potential to gain the training and proficiency to make a new life for themselves. The biggest factor for success I see is a simple willingness to learn. A willingness to learn and a growth mindset will set you apart and allow you to excel.”
As demand for high-quality IT training continues to increase, Spencer sees growth for Third Phase on the horizon providing services to veterans groups, non-profit organizations, and businesses worldwide.
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