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"What does it mean to be you with us?" – Patrick’s story

Information Security Director of Cybersecurity Governance and Risk

You could say that from an early age, I embarked on a trajectory that was set on technology and the military. The family influence goes back at least two generations.

Generations of influence and inspiration

My father was a machinist/mechanic, which influenced me to become a mechanic in the Army reserve. My mother is a doctorate-level engineer in information technology and my grandfather, who lived to age 95, was an aircraft mechanic in the Army Air Corp, a mechanical and electrical engineer, and an accomplished amphibious pilot.

His love of flying inspired me to pursue my pilot’s license, which I started through the Civil Air Patrol. I learned how to fly a plane and flew my first solo in one week at age 17. My grandfather was also my inspiration to join the Army Reserve/Air Force, which I did for 15+ years.

During high school, I interned at Alliant Tech, working on shockwave analysis. Honeywell Avionics was another internship where I worked on a laser gyroscope for the 737-400 aircraft.

Patrick Kooiker

Serving our country through the military

After high school, I moved from the Army Reserve to the Minnesota Air National Guard. There I was able to complete two associate degrees and a bachelor’s degree, after which I moved to a traveling unit within the Minnesota Air National Guard. And travel I did to around 40 countries and a majority of the states. I did tours in Iraq, United Arab Emirates, Korea, Germany and others.

My military career included a stint at Andrews Air Force Base assigned to the National Guard Bureau, which had offices at the Pentagon. I assisted with relief efforts on the ground after Hurricane Katrina. In 2009, I worked as a federal contractor as the lead engineer in Kyrgyzstan and Afghanistan

I have just been incredibly lucky, and in the right place at the right time for something unusual, if not weird. In one Air Force training, I had to climb a 200-foot tower, building the tower the entire way up. On 9/11, I was part of the Air Base communications team that helped scramble F-16s for Air Force One. Later, I was recognized with a hometown hero award from President Bush and a medal from the governor of Iowa. Currently, I am working toward certification as an instructor for the mentoring two cadets to be flying Warrant Officers. I am the Director of Aerospace Education for the Minnesota Wing of the Civil Air Patrol.

A commitment to health and family

Hobbies I enjoy are camping, fishing, backpacking, swimming, rucking (hiking or walking while carrying a weighted backpack, a staple of military training), working out with my wife and kids, working on my Jeep and truck, Jeep rides—no doors or top—along the river with my family, flying (right seat). I volunteer for the National Guard Association of Minnesota as a representative for all Warrant officers in Minnesota. I hold the rank of Captain with the Civil Air Patrol Auxiliary of the Air Force, and the rank of Warrant officer one in the Minnesota Army National Guard.

Patrick Kooiker

As for the next generation, my son has no interest in the military or flying currently. But he is going to be an accountant, so I am extremely proud of him. My daughter, Rosalie, might go into Space Force. She also loves coding.

As a family, we have had our challenges. My youngest, Scarlett, was born with physical and mental disabilities. She had a diagnosis of hydrops fetalis at only 20 weeks gestation.

This changed our lives forever. Exposure to the world of unique needs brings about empathy, understanding and at times financial struggle.

I rejoined Civil Air Patrol in 2017 and rejoined the Minnesota Army National Guard in 2021. Due to my break in service, over 10 years, I had to go through combat training, followed by Warrant Officer School. One driver for rejoining the Minnesota Army National Guard was Tricare (military medical insurance) for Scarlett, including assisted living.

But maintaining good mental health is ongoing. It is like having a scar. It does not really heal; you just learn to live with it. Talking to people helps, especially people who have been in the same circumstances I have. Making special time for my family, rejoining the military, staying active and creating relationships with others we meet at special needs programs has helped.

Bringing experience and a diverse background to Securian Financial

I came to Securian in April 2020. My life experiences include a close encounter with erupting volcanos in Sicily, Hawaii and Saipan, a hurricane on the East Coast, tornadoes, civil war, revolutions, war zones, fires and floods. But I had never taken a new job during [a] pandemic, until then!

At Securian, I think of myself as a leader of people. Over a decade ago, I made a concerted effort to switch from being an individual contributor. I thought I could really influence people in their lives, mentor people and provide growth opportunities. I currently am the Director of the Cybersecurity Governance and Risk teams here at Securian.

One of the best things about the jobs here are the people. Leadership supports our mission (and us) here at Securian. We help create secure futures through our products and services. There is also the flexibility of a good work-life/balance working a hybrid schedule.

I appreciate the diversity and inclusion at Securian. It is an important topic. Only with the most diversity will we solicit the best ideas. Having varied backgrounds avoids ‘group think’ and allows for sharing of diverse ideas from a unique perspective. This has always been key to me as I grew up in the military with a varied group of people from all levels of society. As a director, my teams are diverse. What matters to me is that they are the best at the job. I hire from the largest pool of candidates, without bias, who are the best qualified.

There are a multitude of angles to my life, but I can be who I am at Securian. My leaders have supported me to rejoin the Minnesota Army National Guard. They said knowing my family situation, they thought it would be a good move for me and my family. I have never had leadership respond to me that way, so I nominated him in for an award: the Patriot award, by Employer Support of the Guard and Reserve.

“Be You. With Us,” an outreach term that is a part of the Securian mantra, promotes a welcoming work environment. It is a phrase that speaks to diversity and inclusivity by encouraging individuals to bring their unique perspectives and identities to a group or organization. It suggests that everyone’s contributions matter and that a diverse range of perspectives is beneficial. It is encouraging people to be authentic and true to themselves while being a part of a group.

Securian embodies this ethos with not only its words but its continued actions with organizations like Associate Resource Groups, and the Servicemember Associate Resource Group. Cumulative life experiences shape our lives; we can learn from everyone’s strengths. I am honored and proud to be a part of this organization.

Be you. With us.

At Securian Financial, we want all our associates – current and future – to bring us their ideas, their passion and their most authentic selves.

Build your career here!

Meet our colleagues

As our organization works to create a culture of inclusivity and belonging we’ve launched a series of stories sharing what it means to be you with us at Securian.

Read more stories

Patrick Kooiker is a Securian Financial employee and therefore has a financial connection to Securian Financial. His statement was given freely.

DOFU 10-2023