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Brian Fickel

Brian Fickel

Breakout Session 3B: Friday, June 2 | 3:45 p.m.

"From Service to Suits: Translating Military PAO Skills into Civilian Success"

Transitioning from a military role to the civilian workforce can be a significant shift. This is especially true for Public Affairs Officers (PAOs) who have cultivated unique skillsets in strategic communication, crisis management, and leadership. This panel discussion, moderated by a retired Army PAO Colonel Brian Fickel, will delve into how military PAOs can navigate this transition effectively and leverage their skills in the civilian sector.

The panelists, all esteemed retired military PAOs who have successfully moved into civilian roles, will share their experiences, challenges, and successes. The discussion will draw parallels from the keynote speech and Day 1 breakout sessions, focusing on the role of personal branding, strategic thinking, and understanding key metrics in a civilian context.

The session aims to provide an authentic and detailed roadmap for transitioning from military PAO roles to civilian communications positions. It will highlight how military skills can be applied in civilian roles, how to shape a personal brand during this transition, and how to measure success in the new environment.


  • Understand the common challenges and opportunities during the transition from military PAO to civilian roles.
  • Gain insights into how to shape a strong personal brand that reflects your unique skills and experiences.
  • Learn how to apply strategic thinking and leadership skills learned in the military, to civilian communications roles.
  • Discover the key metrics for success in civilian roles and how they differ from those in the military.


Brian Fickel is a passionate executive communications advisor, spokesperson, and speechwriter with over 15 years of experience in strategic communications and public relations. Fickel relishes opportunities to help others develop their skills and abilities, always striving to help them achieve their full potential.

Fickel recently retired from the US Army where he was most recently Director of the Army Public Affairs Center, located at Fort Meade, Maryland, and managed all aspects of the Army Public Affairs career management field. He holds expertise in both internal and external communications at the Army installation level and higher and has legislative affairs experience at the three- and four-star levels.

Fickel began his public affairs career in 2007 after graduating from Defense Information School at Fort Meade. He has advised commanders at the U.S. Army division level and above, including serving as the public affairs advisor to the Chief of Staff of the United States Army, the United States Forces – Iraq commander, and the US Central Command commander.

Fickel's academic achievements include a Bachelor of Arts in Policy Studies from Dickinson College, a Master of Arts in Management from Webster University, and a Master of Science in Public Relations and Corporate Communications from Georgetown University, as well as a Master of Science in Strategic Studies from the US Army War College. His education has equipped him with a deep understanding of leadership, management communication, organizational behavior and public relations.

In addition to his public affairs work, Fickel has dedicated himself to developing and delivering training programs that empower people to give effective presentations, handle media interviews, and build strong relationships with clients. He is also a sought-after lecturer on leadership and executive communications including the US Army Pre-Command course at Fort Leavenworth, Kansas.

Fickel's accomplishments have earned him the reputation of someone known for his enthusiastic, energetic and insightful approach to education and advising executive leaders. He is passionate about helping people achieve their full potential and making a positive impact in their personal and professional lives.