A Look Back at Cerno’s Survival Challenge Team Adventure

A look back at Cerno’s Team Adventure “Survival Challenge” – Day in the Life of a HERO: Military Edition

An Adventure Learning and Performance Recognition Company

An experience that changes the way teams think and work together! Small teams of 5-9 people come together to complete a series of challenges that are both physical and cerebral in nature. Each group is “stranded” and must work together to avoid capture and make it to the designated meeting point to be “rescued.” To be successful, teams must work together under pressure to solve problems.

Update: Cerno services including Team Adventures are no longer available to the public.

This video features Michelle Aikman, Co-Founder and former Director of Adventure Learning at Cerno.

Michelle Aikman Joins Washington Gas

It is with great JOY and CELEBRATION that I share I recently joined the Washington Gas team as the new Community Engineer!

Washington Gas, a WGL Company, delivers natural gas to more than one million residential, commercial and industrial customers throughout Washington D.C., and the surrounding region. The Community Engineer role is a new one for the company and was created within the Corporate Social Responsibility group to support Corporate Engineering in navigating community issues related to large pipeline installation and maintenance activities. The company strives to strengthen community relationships while providing the growing region with safe and reliable energy services.

This position and this company could not be a better fit for me and I am thrilled that the hiring team also agreed!

For those of you who don’t know, my spouse is active-duty military and our mobility has made career progression and business ownership challenging but as military spouses do so well, I took on many challenging opportunities along the way not knowing if they would ever lead to progression and a marketable skill combination and qualification set. This new chapter is my career is a turning point, pulling all of those experiences together! This hiring team saw the beautiful combination and I am extremely grateful for their open-mindedness and interest in looking beyond the common perceptions that prevent many employers from seeing and capturing the amazing talent within the military spouse community. They also properly assessed my skills and experience, diverse as it is, and compensated me appropriately. Underemployment, by pay or job duties, is a major issue for military spouses so this was another big win. I am proud to say Washington Gas got it right! I hope other companies take note because military spouses make up a high-value talent pool and when properly integrated and compensated, greatly enhance the talent diversity and can transform organizations in a short period of time.

I am ecstatic to open this chapter of my career as our family nears military retirement and I can look farther into the future than I have had the ability to do previously. It is also a welcomed achievement that comes after many years in the entrepreneur space and feeling the heartache of closing the door on a venture that we poured ourselves into and was full of potential but the path forward did not work for all members of the team. My skills and experiences are even more diverse and robust because of my entrepreneurial journey so I am thankful for every moment I spent working with my team towards our vision and having the opportunity to make a difference in the lives of those we served. Thank you to my team and all of you who supported Cerno! It was a wild and awesome journey together.

My new role combines all of my experiences as a chemical engineer, validation engineer, forensic engineer, utility engineer, business owner, speaker, trainer, talent management consultant, and communicator (including my McBride Honors Program minor in Public Affairs! Thanks Colorado School of Mines!). I look forward to tying it all together to provide a critical link and perspective that will help the company act on its corporate social responsibility vision. THANK YOU to every person who mentored me, extended a helping hand, championed my vision, and gifted me with your friendship. I appreciate every one of you because you have guided me and opened doors that have led me to this point. A special thank you to the National Academy of Sciences for also offering me a phenomenal opportunity.

It is an honor and a joy to join Kelly and Daminique in Mr. Huey Battle’s Community Outreach group and be a part of the Washington Gas team!

May you all have peace in your hearts that your next chapters are grand and you will come upon those wonderful page turns when the moment is perfectly right and not a moment sooner. CHEERS to new chapters my friends!

Secretary of the Air Force Spouses & Family Forum

At the Secretary of the Air Force Spouses & Family Forum on October 21, 2016, Michelle Aikman proposed that the Air Force, being the hub of STEM for the military, integrate military spouses to improve military spouse employment opportunities and reduce the cyber talent gap projected to grow with time.

2016 National Military Spouse Network Business and Career Summit

militaryspouse-twitterI  was invited to attend, live tweet, and do exclusive interviews at the 2016 National Military Spouse Network summit on behalf of Military Spouse.

New to the Washington DC area, I was excited to attend this event. I left with several great reminders and takeaways for my company, Cerno and was excited to see advanced conversation and presentations that career-minded military spouses desperately need.

Check out the interviews and the #NMSNsummit16 twitter feed below!

#NMSNsummit16 Tweets

Keynote Speaker for the 2016 Military Family Summit

13873083_1581266118833842_4433047159117226886_nI was honored to travel back to Fairchild AFB in Spokane, Washington to Keynote this special bipartisan event.

Panelists, moderators and speakers included:

Congresswoman Cathy McMorris Rodgers (WA-05)
Congressman Sanford D. Bishop, Jr. (GA-02)
Colonel Ryan R. Samuelson, Commander of the 92nd Air Refueling Wing
Colonel Daniel J. Swain, Commander of the 141st Air Refueling Wing, Air National Guard
Michelle Aikman, 2016 Armed Forces Insurance Air Force Spouse of the Year
Joyce Raezer, Executive Director, National Military Family Association
Cristin Orr Shiffer, Senior Advisor for Policy and Survey, Blue Star Families
David Lapan, Senior Director, National Capital Retion, Military Child Education Coalition (MCEC)
John Davis, Veterans and Military Outreach Liaison
Rudy Lopez, Washington State Department of Veterans Affairs
Nancy Vorhees, CAO, Inland Northwest Health Services
Seth Maier, Veterans Case Manager, Employment Security Department, Worksource Spokane
Tony Kurta, Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Military Personnel Policy, U.S. Department of Defense
Melissa Still, Community Readiness Consultant, U.S. Air Force, Fairchild Air Force Base
Lieutenant Colonel (Ret.) Joseph J.J., Montanaro, Financial Planner, USAA
Sarah Meadows, Senior Sociologist, RAND Corporation
Dr. Shelley Redinger, Superintendent, Spokane Public Schools
Brooke Goldberg, Deputy Director, Government Relations, Military Officers Association of America
Clark Swenson, Services to the Armed Forces Pacific Division Director, American Red Cross
Alisha Benson, Chief Operating Officer and Vice President Education and Workforce, Greater Spokane Incorporated
Maggie Hahn, Military Affairs Relationship Director, USAA
Terry Howell, Senior Director for Strategic Alliances and Editorial Operations, Military.com

Many times, events like this only happen at larger bases so it was wonderful to have the conversation brought to the base.

My goal was to set the stage for positive two-way conversation that will help base families feel that their story – their voice – is important and heard, and that our collective voices contribute to positive change.

A huge thank you to the Congresswoman and Congressman for inviting me and recognizing the value of including spouses and families in this conversation.

(Contact information removed)
(Contact information removed)

(Keynote introduction starts at 32-minute mark)

Congresswoman Cathy McMorris Rodgers, Michelle Aikman, Col Ryan Samuelson, 92ARW Commander

Alisha Benson, COO Greater Spokane Incorporated (Spokane’s Chamber of Commerce), Michelle Aikman, Maggie Hahn, Military Affairs Relationship Director USAA

Michelle Aikman and Jerry White, Legislative Director @HouseGOP | Chair Cathy McMorris Rodgers

Closing remarks. Check out the amazing Fairchild spouses honored!

   Military spouses, what matters to you? Share your story and ideas on Military Spouse Voices™

Society of Military Spouses in STEM (SMSS)

SMSS-Logo-smallI cofounded the Society of Military Spouses in STEM (SMSS) with another military spouse this year!

We have a closed Facebook group with 100+ members and just launched our public Facebook page. We invite you to LIKE the SMSS page and if you are a military spouse in STEM or is interested in STEM, please message us through the page and we will add you to the closed group.

Also, please do check out the SMSS website for information on how to join, support the organization and simply get involved!


Our Post 9-11 Military Life Story on StoryCorps’ Military Voices

In 2015, StoryCorps came to our town. They invited the local military community to interview each other and record it for the national archives. We were told that they records thousands of stories each year and only a small handful are ever aired.

After years of listening to StoryCorps stories on NPR, I knew this was something that I couldn’t miss. So, I asked my husband to come with me so I could interview him. We weren’t even sure if he was going to be able to make it up until an hour before so I was planning to interview my kiddos. I was so happy he was able to come. I don’t think he realized what a powerful experience it would be for us to sit across from each other to talk about our lives in such a raw way. The moment the recording started, I was overcome with emotion and started crying which carried throughout our conversation. We talked for an hour and will forever cherish that conversation.

A year later, we were notified that they selected an excerpt from our conversation for a special Military Voices StoryCorps series which was created to allow civilians to better understanding of the complex realities of troops’ service and sacrifice.

I am so honored that they chose us to be included in this series recorded and aired in Spokane, Washington. If you missed the original program, you can listen to it now by clicking on the 2nd streaming audio file — our interview starts at the ~27 min mark.

Spotlight: Armed Forces Insurance

2016 Military Spouse of the Year branch winners, spouses, Garry L. Parks, Lieutenant General, USMC, Ret. of Armed Forces Insurance (on the left), and Lori Simmons of Armed Forces Insurance (on the right).

Armed Forces Insurance (AFI) is the title sponsor for the 2016 Military Spouse of the Year (#MSOY16) Awards. Thank you to Garry, Lori and the entire staff at Armed Forces Insurance for your unwavering support of military spouses and military families! I am proud to wear AFI’s name.


Find out more about Armed Forces Insurance at http://www.afi.org  Twitter

The “Make it Snappy” Productivity Show – Episode #30

My conversation with Nick Snapp continues on Episode #30 of The “Make it Snappy” Productivity Show!

Listen to this podcast on iTunes or stream it below. For the more information, visit the show website here.

If you missed the first part of our conversation, you can listen to it here.

– Nick, thank you again for a great conversation and sharing my excitement on applying professional concepts to the home!


Webinar: How to Manage a Career Change – Michelle Aikman on FlexJobs

If you are in the midst of a major career change, this is the webinar for you. Sign up and learn how to successfully manage a career change. Join FlexJobs and Michelle Aikman, a career management consultant, resume writer, and career advisor, to find out how to manage a potential career change, and how to create your very own “career insurance policy.”

Find out more: Webinar: How to Manage a Career Change – Michelle Aikman on FlexJobs

Check out the Q&A via Twitter at #FJWebinar

Here is a quick preview…

A Casual Conversation with Sandboxx

Sandboxx interviewed me after I was selected as the 2016 Armed Forces Insurance Air Force Spouse of the Year. Get comfortable because 10 minutes into our conversation, Kelly asked me if I had anything else I wanted to share… which is why it ended up being 20 minutes long. Thanks for the interview and the patience Sanboxx!

About Sandboxx
Sandboxx is a mobile app that enables comms to exist throughout the military journey. The entire DOD organizational structure built into Sandboxx lets those in uniform and their families stay connected like never before possible. Sandboxx Letters continues the mission by give loved ones the ability to send physical mail to those in basic or on deployment. Learn more about how Sandboxx is revolutionising the way our military community thrives at www.sandboxx.us and download the app here, www.sandboxx.us/app.

About Military Spouse
Military Spouse magazine and www.militaryspouse.com published by Victory Media, is the leading national magazine and online destination for the nation’s 1.1 million military spouses. You can follow us on Facebook at www.facebook.com/militaryspouse and on Twitter @MilSpouseMag. The company also publishes G.I. Jobs magazine (www.gijobs.com) and Vetrepreneur magazine (www.navoba.com), and has created the Buy Veteran movement (www.buyveteran.com) powered by NaVOBA.

About Armed Forces Insurance
AFI was founded in 1887 by military leaders with a single mission: to protect the property of those who protect our nation. The company provides premium quality, competitively-priced property and casualty insurance to military professionals throughout the United States and overseas. AFI understands that military members have unique circumstances and insurance needs, enabling the company to offer a level of personalized service that’s unequaled in the industry. For more information, visit the website at www.afi.org or call 1-800-495-8234.

Exposing 6th Graders to Engineering

Michelle Aikman talking to 6th graders about STEMI was invited to speak to 6th graders at the Spokane International Academy about engineering this week. I love speaking to kids… their questions and seeing the gears in their brains turn as they realize that there are so many problems that THEY can solve! By far, the highlight of my week.

I speak to middle school, high school, and college students several times each year on a variety of topics.

This particular presentation: “Science Technology ENGINEERING Math” a fun and interactive presentation introducing 6th graders to college and various engineering disciplines including chemical engineering, utility engineering, forensic engineering, validation engineering, and a special NASA Mars project.

I want to thank you again so much for coming to our school and speaking to our students. It’s so important for girls especially to see women in the STEM fields who enjoy their work. You were truly inspiring and the students enjoyed your talk immensely. Thanks for taking time out of your busy schedule to come and inspire the next generation.
Mary Himley

Spokane International Academy

Thank you Spokane International Academy for inviting me! I appreciate the dialogue because I learn and am always inspired by them as well. Their energy, insightful assessments, and genuine interest (and concern) is what will fuel positive change as their generation enters the workforce.