Career Paths: Mike Van Poots promoted to rear admiral



Service has always been at the center of everything Mike Van Poots does. In his civilian career, he serves Molson Coors’ Shenandoah plant and its people as senior manager, brewery technical services. He provides critical support to the plant’s operations, ensuring millions of consumers can continue celebrating together. His service extends into the community as well, where he’s a volunteer at his local rescue squad and a board-certified flight paramedic.

His commitment to service, however, extends far beyond his civilian life.

Van Poots began serving his country in the U.S. Navy Reserve in 1991, and this week was promoted to rear admiral.

The promotion is a reflection of the impact he’s had with the Navy Reserve. He’s worked on submarines as a nuclear submarine officer, and been deployed to the the Pacific, Atlantic and Arctic Oceans. He also served as inspector general to Joint Task Force Guantanamo as part of his long Navy career.

Every route to joining the armed forces is unique, and Van Poots’ is no exception. His journey began by acting in a school play.

“I was cast in South Pacific as Commander Harbison,” Van Poots says. “After the opening night of the play, my guidance counselor handed me the Naval Academy and NROTC pamphlets.”

From there, Van Poots joined the reserves out of high school with a four-year NROTC scholarship to Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, embarking on his path of service. It’s a path that has seen his civilian and military life go hand in hand so he can make the greatest impact.

After working at various industrial plants, Van Poots joined Molson Coors in 2007. He took advantage of Molson Coors’ tuition assistance program to help pay for his MBA and PhD, and was boosted by the company’s military differential pay benefit to keep him financially whole while on assignment for the Navy.

All the while, serving his nation has given him a more robust ability to serve the Shenandoah plant and its people, where he leads manufacturing support areas of utilities, engineering, capital projects, environmental compliance and more.

“(Serving in the Navy) provides a great perspective and world view, as well as great appreciation for different cultures or countries, etc.,” Van Poots says. “It also affords opportunities to work within many different ways of working and processes (at the plant).”

Molson Coors’ support of the military has helped him not only rise through the ranks of the Navy Reserve, but also use his skills to help the Shenandoah brewery safely and efficiently brew beer, he says.

“We have the best benefits out there,” Van Poots says. “Military differential pay benefit, positive support internally with our VALOR employee resource group and extensive time off allowances that go far beyond the minimum requirements.”

The common theme of Van Poots’ long career is serving everyone who surrounds him. As a rear admiral, he’ll take that service to the next level.