Wednesday, September 2, 2015

You Don't Have to Be an Admiral: Rob Hubert (USNA '96)

“I know it wasn’t your mistake, but you’ve got to own it.”

That was what Navy SEAL Erik Kristensen said to USNA graduate Rob Hubert when they were both midshipmen in the same squad. It was a lesson Hubert (USNA ’96) would continue to embrace throughout his career, both in and out of the military.

Hubert served as an active duty surface warfare officer for more than six years. When the Navy couldn’t co-locate him with his wife Amy (an emergency medicine physician and ‘95 USNA grad), he got out to pursue a 13-year career in sales with a company called Allergan. He now co-owns Tilt, a lacrosse lifestyle apparel company, with his brother Jake.

Rob Hubert (far right), along with his brother (left) and
one of Tilt's company ambassadors.

He attributes much of his success – whether managing a new training department on board USS Tortuga (LSD 46) or managing a clothing company – to three key leadership skills he learned at the Naval Academy: accountability, servant leadership and perspective.

“I’m the guy who’s going to be accountable for not only what I do but what my peers do, what my team does, what my organization does,” said Hubert. “You develop a lot of trust and respect that way.”

You also develop that trust by ensuring your people know you have their best interests at heart.

“Even as a VP of sales for a multimillion-dollar business unit, I used to tell my team, ‘I’m here to serve you. My job is to ensure you have the training, the tools and the resources to execute your mission,’” he said.

It was the same for every position he held in the military.

“Servant leadership is something I think I learned at the academy but didn't realize it until later on. You learn as a plebe to set the example,” he said. “Once you have that reputation as a servant leader, people are going to follow you. They will follow you anywhere.”

Hubert’s sense of perspective is still rooted in his Naval Academy experience. Midshipmen are kept so busy, even a quiet cup of coffee and 15 minutes of solitude to read a newspaper became luxuries he appreciates to this day.

“It sounds like a trivial thing, but the academy really started to imbue that in me,” he said.

Those simple pleasures, along with his active duty experiences, help keep things in perspective in his current role at Tilt.

When his brother, a former All-American lacrosse player at North Dakota State, first established Tilt in 2014, Hubert leveraged his considerable sales experience at Allergan to help on the side. He didn’t officially join the company until earlier this year.

Having been formerly involved not just in the careers but in the personal lives of his sailors, he recognizes that a bad day in sales isn’t so bad compared to a bad day at sea.

“Nobody dies selling cosmetic drugs, nobody dies selling t-shirts. On active duty, you make a mistake, people die,” he said.

And even on a “bad” day, he loves what he does, working in a small company in an up and coming market alongside his brother.

“It’s been awesome,” he said. “Truthfully, if I hadn’t gone to the academy, I know none of this would have been possible, because that’s where my roots are from.”

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The mission of the Naval Academy is graduate leaders who are dedicated to a career of naval service and have potential for future development in mind and character to assume the highest responsibilities of command, citizenship and government.

In the "You Don't Have to Be an Admiral" blog series we feature Naval Academy graduates who have, after their military service, gone on to excel in various ways outside the military.

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