Three years ago, when unemployment was soaring among veterans, Ross decided to take a chance. She recognized that other companies were afraid of committing to veterans.
"Economically, the program is a fabulous business model," Ross said. "It's all about making it a win for everyone. A win for the client, a win for us, and a win for the veteran. We're using a resource that we already have. How could that be a lose?"
Few companies are doing something similar, she added, "because no one wants to put their butt on the line." In Ross' mind, the return was greater than the investment.
Sharp Decisions finds veterans from a range of sources, and focuses on tech-savvy ones that were sent to combat, and carried big responsibilities. Upon entering the program, veterans are committed to a six-week boot camp that provides the opportunity to hone existing skills in client-customized environment.
During the six weeks, the veterans are paid a salary and sometimes benefits, are given a laptop, a trainer for the class, materials and the location. All without a dime coming from the pockets of the veterans; the money comes straight from other aspects of Sharp Decisions.
After training, the veterans are then deployed in a squad of three or more to one of Sharp Decisions' clients, which then pay the firm. The clients are Experian, EmblemHealth, Harmonic and Freddie Mac.
These clients then get to work with the veterans for up to a year.
During the time with them, the clients pay Sharp Decisions hourly, or on a full-time salary basis. But the actual salary that goes to the veterans comes from other areas of Sharp Decisions' business. The terms between Sharp Decisions and the clients are negotiated upfront and agreed upon from the beginning depending on the position being filled. Sharp Decisions pays salaries that range from $35,000 to $80,000, and clients pay a premium.
Still, Ross considers Sharp Decisions as a small company. But she added that the responsibility to veterans is something that should be shared.
"I'll do my part and make an impact," she said. "But it's time for private companies to step up."