In honour of Veteran’s Day in the USA, we spoke to David Rosado, a dedicated member of the Merlin family since 2014, and a veteran!

So, David tell us a little bit about yourself…

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Hello LinkedIn! My name is David. I am a 2-time Purple Heart recipient having served in Iraq and Afghanistan. I am always equipped with my camera and I truly love taking long walks on the beach. I've been married for 19 years to my wife Bonnie and we have 2 children, Ariana and David.

I also have 2 Yorkies named Rascal and Stormy. I’m originally from The Bronx, NY. GO YANKEES! but I have lived most of my life in Central FL. I have been with Merlin since November 2014, so I am coming up on my 6th year with the company! I started at LEGOLAND Florida Resort as the HR Project coordinator working on different initiatives; then I was promoted to HR Generalist assisting various departments with Recruitment, Employee relations, Induction, and Orientation. I was later promoted to HR Generalist 2, focusing more on the recruitment side of the business until my current position as Sr Recruiter for Merlin North America in October 2019.

How long did you serve in the military and what was your role/experience like?

I served in The Army Reserve for 15.5 years; most of my experience came from overseas tours in Iraq from 2007-2008 and Afghanistan 2011-2012. My role or MOS (military occupational speciality code) was a 12B Combat Engineer, and that experience would be like no other. Our team was responsible for locating and disarming roadside bombs or IED’s (improvised explosive devices) I held various roles within my unit from Team Leader to Squad leader, and later as Platoon Sergeant in the care of up to 40 soldiers. Joining the Army was one of the best decisions I ever made, as I met most of my closest lifelong friends in the Military.

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Why did you leave the service, and what was that adjustment like?

I was medically retired in 2016 due to injuries sustained from Iraq and Afghanistan. The adjustment period was difficult for me, but because I had the support of my family and a career to transition back to kept me grounded. When you are a member of the military the hardest part is transitioning and changing your skillset while attempting to go back to be a functioning member of society. This is something that plagues a lot of combat veterans.

What was it like for you in your job search? Are there challenges veterans face which other applicants don’t?

The job search for me is where my story gets interesting. While in Afghanistan my vehicle was hit by an IED (This happened on 3 different occasions during both tours), after being MEDIVAC (Flown out by Helicopter to the Hospital). I woke up couple of days later and found myself in the concussion ward of the hospital. Part of the concussion protocol was to build with LEGO bricks! My task was to attempt to build with LEGO bricks and continue doing so until the activity didn’t give me a headache and when dexterity came back. I had to remember how to put square bricks into square holes, which was difficult for me, having sustained a traumatic brain injury.

Going from the military to Merlin is quite the change! What made you decide to join us?

When I returned from Afghanistan to my role at PepsiCo, I transitioned to Gatorade, but was laid off due to a restructuring of the Human Resources department. During my layoff period I noticed a job posting for LEGOLAND Florida and remembered my experience with the Lego Bricks in Afghanistan! I was a fan of the park before I joined the team, so it felt like a natural fit.

So, what is your current role? And what do you enjoy about it? Also, what are the biggest challenges?

I currently work For Merlin’s North America People hub in Orlando as a Senior Recruiter. I enjoy speaking to candidates and sharing my experiences and journey with Merlin. I enjoy talking about growth, development, and opportunities. It is easy to share my experiences, with potential candidates. I love telling them about the Merlin culture and how I have been led throughout the years. Our biggest strength is our people! The biggest challenge I face is the need to prioritize my day to speak to the most candidates possible. Our stakeholders deserve the best person I can find for their role.

As a veteran, in your experience, how was your application process with us? Are there things we did well? Are there things we could improve on?

Part of my story will always bring me back to my interview process at LEGOLAND Florida. The application process for me went extremely well. In 2014 I must have been 1 of a hundred plus applicants. I interviewed with the Head of HR and the HR Director for LEGOLAND Florida. This interview set the pace for the type of HR Professional I wanted to be. I was able to get a good understanding of how the company treated people, and the type of professionals that we entrust at our sites. As an HR professional whenever I think back to that day, I always remember how at ease I felt speaking to the staff. Everyone just seemed to love being there, and I wanted to be a part of that team!

What’s been the biggest challenge for you, going from the military to where you are now?

The biggest challenging is always going to be the differences in skillset needed to be successful. While Civilian and military share in some areas of professionalism, there are big differences in looking for IED’s then there are to recruiting candidates, but I guess searching is unique to both.

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Would you recommend Merlin to other veterans looking for work?

I would definitely recommend Merlin to other veterans! We have an amazing culture at Merlin where you can be yourself, and where the environment is based on fun. Now the work may be challenging but the mindset is that you are never on your own, and we have opportunities that can fit a variety of career goals. Veterans come with extensive training with many of them having leadership experience and potential for growth.

  If you can leave people with one thought/message, what would it be?

A lasting thought is based on my experience of working at Merlin. This is the place that will always encourage you to continue Learning and to continue to strive for excellence! There is so much to learn about this business. Continually improvement is the key! take classes, learn across cross-functional teams. I love the fact that we get to wear many hats here. So, whether it’s helping operations in the park, or dressing up like a farmer for Brick or Treat. At Merlin, we could experience the most amazing things. We are all in this together to serve our guests, but we need to strive to be better for our teams. Like the military; as leaders, we serve those in our care. So must always remember that we can make our teams stronger in the service of others.