DVIDS – News – Leading the way: Commanders discuss challenges and rewards at Women’s Leadership Circle

LOS ANGELES — It’s still a time of “firsts” for women breaking glass ceilings.

At a recent Port of Long Beach Women’s Leadership Circle, two female Army Engineer Commanders discussed how they were able to accomplish these goals, while balancing their military careers and family lives.

Colonel Antoinette Gant, commander of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers South Pacific Division, and Colonel Julie Balten, commander of the Corps’ Los Angeles District, were the keynote speakers for the virtual event.

The mission of the POLB Women’s Leadership Circle is to empower leaders by promoting camaraderie and leadership. This year’s theme was “Leadership: Renew and Rebuild”.

During the presentations, Michal Loving, president of the POLB Women’s Leadership Circle, listed Gant and Balten’s many academic and military accomplishments from high school to present, and their current responsibilities in managing projects across large areas of the world. west of the country.

The topic of the discussion was, “How do you practice self-care while striving to achieve life milestones, even though you have already achieved significant professional and personal goals in these unprecedented past 18 months? “

The two leaders were then asked to share their experiences as high-ranking army officers serving in an engineer command. Gant and Balten talked about their lives and answered questions from the panel while interviewing each other.

It was a serious discussion about the challenges they faced as women and career officers in the military. Both said they had to find a balance to become the best engineer-soldiers they could be in a male-dominated culture and still have a family life.

In doing so, they paved the way for future female leaders to follow. Gant is the first woman of color to lead the Corps’ South Pacific Division.
“We really want to share some of our experiences with you,” Gant said.

“I hope to hear things that have happened throughout our careers; the things we’ve done that will help you navigate the space, whether you’re a new employee starting out as a junior, mid-level, or someone who’s senior.

“It’s a good thing you’re doing, having a women’s forum, where it’s not just about women; it’s also about the men, who are part of your organization, being able to be part of it,” added Balten. “It’s important because it’s not just a women’s issue. It’s something that we want to make sure, all around, that everyone understands some of the challenges, especially being a woman in some of the environments that we find ourselves in, and some of the challenges that we face , so that we can all be able to help each other.”

OVERCOME OBSTACLES, GROW AS A LEADER

As female soldiers, both women said they thought carefully about decisions, such as getting married and having children, and how it would impact their careers (both are married to non-military spouses) . They described the similarities in their private lives and careers as they held leadership positions, while raising their children.

Early in her career, Balten said she was warned to avoid female leaders because “women are mean to each other.” After graduating from the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, New York, and earning his commission as a young lieutenant in 1997, Balten, who is now the 63rd District Commander of Los Angeles, discovered the truth was “the exact opposite” after serving under two female leaders, one of them becoming her mentor.

“I firmly believe that we all have something to offer,” she said. “We should all hear our stories because we can all empower ourselves and be there for each other. I just think it’s a fantastic forum for that – to really believe in each other, to share and build each other, and to really learn from each other.

Balten said it was her passion to serve her country and so she strove to excel as an army officer and engineer.

“Experience trumped opportunity,” Balten said. “I would do it again in a heartbeat, even if there were some tough days.”

Gant also had other opportunities, but like Balten, the call to duty as an engineer officer was stronger. She strategized how a career in the military would shape all aspects of her life after deciding to continue her military career, instead of leaving after four years.

“The plan was always to do four years and get out,” she said, knowing she had a civil engineering degree and could go anywhere. “It’s probably the same for a lot of all of you – you start to progress and there’s another challenge,” Gant said. “It’s like, ‘I’ve done this before as a lieutenant; what’s going to happen when I become a captain?’ ‘They’re taking me here.’ face Am I ready for this?

Life in the military is hard on family members, she says. His family used to move every two or three years. After her first child, Gant said she wondered if she should stay in the military with its fast and demanding pace. Gant said her husband supported her choice to stay in the military and was supportive of her. He assured her that she had a helper and that he would support her career in the military with her as a team. He made sacrifices that affected his career as a math teacher, Gant said, to support his military career.

It was the challenge “to be all she could be” that kept her in the military for 27 years, she said.

“There was always something different,” Gant said. “Every job has always been different. It allowed me to see places I would never have seen.

During the event, Gant also shared one of her favorite quotes – one of many she says to herself daily to keep her motivated: “You can be successful if no one else believes in you, but you will never succeed if you don’t believe in yourself. .”

ABOUT THE POLB FEMALE LEADERSHIP CIRCLE

The POLB WLC, established in 2013 by and for Harbor Women (men also participate), was created for all divisions of the Long Beach Harbor community to hold leaders accountable by promoting camaraderie and leadership.

The Port of Long Beach WLC seeks powerful role models when reviewing keynote speakers, including sharing the experience(s) of women entering traditionally male-dominated fields, to empower leaders in the Port of Long Beach by promoting camaraderie and leadership through networking and mentoring; Education and formation; self-awareness; social consciousness; self management; and relationship management.

“Teammates of all genders and professions are essential, because we cannot advance the cause of women in the workplace without everyone,” Loving said in a mission statement. “WLC’s mission is to create a community of empowered leaders, and we need diversity of thought and experience. Together we are greater than the sum of our parts. »

Date taken: 24.01.2022
Date posted: 24.01.2022 22:04
Story ID: 413351
Site: LOS ANGELES, California, USA

Web views: 29
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Mara R. Wilmoth