This Spotlight reveals TRUE grit. Sarah was told that as a woman, she was not ever going to be good enough to achieve her dreams within the US Army. She persevered, leading her teams by example and finding the balance to successfully navigate her way through a male-dominated field. I am extremely proud to feature Sarah on the Inspiring Women Blog and know that you will leave this read feeling unstoppable. Talk about #WomanPOWER over here... Team Sarah!!!
Sarah is a graduate of Texas A&M University, majoring in Agricultural Leadership and Development, with heavy involvement in Corps of Cadets. She is currently an experienced Logistics Management Analyst and Army Veteran leveraging 7+ years of hands-on experience in both Supply Chain Management and Large-Scale Logistics Operations. She has lead teams of 90+ people while managing $100M worth of equipment and programs.
Connect with Sarah on LinkedIn HERE!
1. Rarely is someone's journey linear. Can you explain what you wanted to be when you grew up, and how your career landed where you are right now?
I grew up being a horse crazy girl! My parents put me in lessons early on and I used all my free time to be at the barn. I loved the connection with animals. So that led me to thinking I wanted to be a veterinarian when I grew up. So, I started looking at the best Animal Science colleges in the country. But one summer before my senior year I spent time with my sister and brother in law in Fort Sill, OK. My brother in law was in the Army and I got to go on post and see all the Soldiers in uniform. I thought it was so cool! And from there I had this innate desire to serve. I remember going up to my Mom and saying, “Mom I have this idea, please don’t shoot it down.” My parents helped steer my ambition to join the Army by helping me apply to a ROTC scholarship. Which basically meant you get some of your college paid for and in turn you owe time to the military after. I thought it would be a great stepping stone to get me to Texas and be guaranteed a job right out of college. My Army career was born.
3. What moment/experience in your life was the most formative in your development as a woman in leadership?
I remember when I was in Captains Career Course, I met with the Human Resource Counselor. She asked me what I saw myself doing in the next few years. I proudly stated, “I really want to be a Forward Support Commander (FSC).” She smirked and told me, “You’re not good enough to become an FSC commander. That’s the hardest job a Logistics Officer can have. I am going to recommend you go to a Sustainment Brigade.” I was crushed. I remember leaving that meeting crying in the hallway as soon as I stepped out of the door. It gave me a lot of self-doubt as a leader. However, over the next year I used her words to put fuel in my fire. I worked hard and proved to my direct leadership that I could be a successful leader in the organization. It paid off. Two years later I would successfully lead an FSC and enjoy and thrive in every minute of it. I put my heart and soul into the job, and guess what- I did just fine!
4. Go-to ice cream flavor?
Sweets are my weakness! Definitely something cake batter! Ha!
5. You have led 90+ people to achieve a common goal! What leadership quality do you feel is most important when leading others?
The biggest thing is to lead by example. Your subordinates will see everything you do. They will be judging you and watching you. You must walk the walk. Don’t be afraid to get your hands dirty and get out there with them. If you try to cut corners they will know. Every time you walk past something wrong and don’t correct it, you’ve created a new standard. I really take this to heart. I think leading by example is a foundation for building trust and a team. You might be outside in the cold, rain, running on no sleep, but if you’re doing it with your team, it sucks less. I promise.
6. What piece of advice would you give to a young woman entering the military?
Do it! Don’t be scared! I promise, you’ll do just fine. I actually get a lot of young women that message me asking for advice that are nervous or scared to join. Totally normal! But I swear the Army isn’t THAT much different from the civilian sector. I worked most days like a normal schedule. Also, there’s SO many different jobs and opportunities. Not every job is shooting guns and doing tactics all day. Pick something that interests you and go for it!
7. What is your "mantra," or personal "motto" that keeps you motivated and focused?
Embrace the suck. It’s a cliché military phrase but it applies to many things in life. I try to remember everything is only temporary. I think if you’re like me, sometimes I can get in my head about things. I just feel pity and sorry for myself. I really use this mantra to talk myself out of it. Especially being a leader, no one wants a leader that complains! That will completely shatter morale. With this sometimes you have to fake the funk, put on a smile, and ride it out. Makes for a way happier you, I promise!
8. What situation did you experience in the US Army that you wish you handled differently? What did you learn from it?
I don’t really want to say I have any regrets, but I will say I didn’t take advantage of some opportunities early on in my career. I really wanted to go to two Army schools-air assault and jumpmaster. I really kept my wants and desires to myself. I didn’t make it known to my leadership that I wanted to take advantage of these schools. I think because I am generally introverted and keep to myself, I didn’t have the courage to seek it out. Looking back- I am now kicking myself. If you want something, people aren’t going to hand it to you or read your mind to know what you are wanting /looking for. I learned you have to be proactive. Make it known to everyone and don’t stop until someone hears you. Don’t be afraid to tell people what you want and go after it! The worst they can say is no. If you never ask for and pursue it then you’ll really never know.
9. Who is your female icon?
Paige Hathaway. I’m sorry many of you might not know who she is! She is a fitness influencer who built herself from the ground up. She grew up poor, picked on and in a trailer without a father figure. She often moved from foster care to foster care. Now, she is worth 5+ million dollars. She is absolutely gorgeous and just a beam of happiness and positive energy. She is living proof that no matter who you are or where you come from, you can achieve any goal you set your mind to.
10. What is the biggest barrier you experienced as a woman in your career?
I find that at first you really have to prove yourself as a woman in a male dominated industry. For me, I will wear makeup to work and try my best to keep that femininity in my appearance. I am very much a blend of girly girl and tom boy. People might not take you seriously. Every day you have to be present and show them. I work my butt off to hang with the boys on my team. Sometimes they want to see you as a little sister. You have to show them you’re the BIG sister! For me it’s helped that I really tried my best to stay in shape to compete with the boys. It’s an easy way to gain their respect right off the bat. The military as a whole has really made big efforts the last few years to move towards equality in every job. So, anything you want to do, you can! Just show up every day to prove yourself and the opportunity is yours.