Director, Global Operations

Mike Patterson said there’s one question that every service member must ask themselves from time to time: Do I stay in the military, retire, or leave to work in the civilian sector? 

This is the very question Mike found he was asking himself earlier this year. And after 30 years of choosing to stay in the US Navy, Mike decided it was finally time to close one chapter to start a new one at Syneos Health.


The Wolf Who Wanted Wings



NC State University. Home of the “Wolfpack”. A chance to go college. To learn and grow.

That’s what Mike wanted when he joined North Carolina State University’s Navy ROTC program on a scholarship – an opportunity for an education and a chance to serve.

But Mike was a wolf who had an eye for the skies. His dream was to become a naval aviator. After graduating college, he left the Wolfpack and earned his wings of gold at the Navy’s flight school in Pensacola, Florida. He took flight as a helicopter pilot flying the Navy’s SH-60B Seahawk helicopter, and eventually became a Command Officer of a Squadron. After 20 years in the cockpit, the Navy continued to challenge him with leadership roles at sea, culminated in his assignment at the pinnacle of his military career as the Captain of a Navy warship – the USS San Antonio.

“First – I do have to admit, the first Top Gun movie came out right before I received my commission in the Navy, so while I always knew I wanted to fly, that movie cemented the decision,” Mike says with a smile.

“In all seriousness, it was an amazing opportunity to fly, serve my country, and work with a team of unbelievably dedicated and talented individuals.  My whole military career has been very rewarding. And somewhere along the way, I was fortunate enough to step in to leadership roles to help others learn and grow. That’s really what kept me in all of those years – because there are some tough aspects that come with the military lifestyle, like leaving your family, moving a lot – but to help those members of your team develop, and to grow the next generation of military talent is inspiring.”

However, true to his nature, after 30 years of serving, learning valuable skills, leading teams, and helping others grow – he was ready to spread his wings once again and bring all of his hard earned knowledge to the civilian sector in our Syneos Health Global Operations Management team.



Transitioning From Service to Syneos Health


“After the Navy, I decided I wanted to find a company where I could make a contribution – I was looking for a place that needed my skills and offered me the ability to do meaningful work. I’ve found that at Syneos Health this July,” Mike shared.

“I believe it’s important to feel connection between the work you do every day, and how it makes a difference. And here, through my work in Global Ops Management, I know I’m doing my part to help facilitate and support our overall vision of shortening the distance from lab to life.

So, while I’m not running clinical trials myself, I’m still contributing to helping bring therapies to people who need them. I’d venture to say we all have someone, a family member or friend, who has had a health issue at some point in their life that we’re working on a solution for – everything from cancer to COVID. That gives me a real sense of purpose.” 



No Need to Fly Solo: Joining the Veteran’s Employee Resource Group


It’s been quite a journey from the Navy ROTC college days, to a fulfilling 30 year military career, to a new adventure in the civilian sector, but it doesn’t mean Mike is flying solo while navigating this transition – that’s what our Veteran’s Employee Resource Group is for.

“The Veteran’s Employee Resource Group has helped me in my transition immeasurably. This group basically brought me into the organization. I had an opportunity to network and talk to some members of the group prior to applying, and they helped show me how my military service and skills would be valued here. It made me feel confident that Syneos Health was a place where I could contribute from Day 1, and that there would be a community of people that would help me during my transition.

Because there is a gap that every transitioning veteran will feel, and you need a bridge to close that gap. That’s what my fellow veterans at Syneos have been for me – my bridge. I’ve heard other transitioning veterans say they’ve been coached to leave the “military stuff behind”, or have been told “you can’t run a team in a corporation the same way you would in the military”.  There is some truth to that, however I feel that Syneos Health has a healthy appreciation for some of the unique skills that a veteran can bring. I feel very fortunate to have found an opportunity that will allow me to bring the best of what I have to offer into a new culture and organization. 

There are things that I miss about the Navy, but it’s good to know that I don’t have to completely “leave everything behind”. Instead, I have a whole group of veterans to connect with in the ERG to feel like I belong – there’s a support system. Because I do miss talking about “military stuff”, and here you can feel comfortable connecting and sharing similar experiences in a positive way. You have a community where you can have fellowship with people you have common experiences with.

And even beyond the Veteran’s group, it’s been great to join an organization that’s committed to the success and well-being of their employees and know that what Veterans can bring to the organization is recognized and celebrated.”