By Celine Aka • February 28, 2017•Ms. JD, Conference, Careers, Law School, Choosing a Career and Landing a Job
U.S. Army Lieutenant General Flora D. Darpino
2017 Ms. JD Road Less Traveled Award
The following questions were formulated based on U.S. Army Lieutenant General Flora Darpino's profile.
1. Your path is certainly not the one most law students take or even think about as an option. How did you decide to pursue a career in the Army?
I often, half-jokingly, tell people I joined the Army because of a boy. My husband was an Army officer and I needed an employer that would allow me to travel around the world with him, without having to take a bar exam in each jurisdiction. A law professor of mine encouraged me to join the Army JAG Corps as well, as an opportunity to be with my husband while engaging in a very broad range of practice areas and here I am.
2. What do you make of being the first woman to serve as the Judge Advocate General of the U.S. Army?
While that is significant, I feel the Army is the kind of place where female leadership is not that unusual. I am fortunate to be the beneficiary of pioneering women who blazed the trail before me and to be part of an organization that evaluates based on merit and potential, not gender.
3. What is the most significant barrier to female leadership in the U.S. Army whether it is at the frontline or in court?
In the Army, leadership is not about gender. Not making yourself a team player and failing to take care of your people are the biggest barriers to effective leadership, male or female. To be a successful Army JAG Corps leader, it isn’t gender that is key, but willingness to advance the organization and the people in it without being concerned about who gets ‘credit’. Take care of your people and they will take care of the mission.
4. What are ways to break those barriers?
Professional competence and work ethic are the best ways. Being a team player and a leader who develops others in the meritocracy environment that makes the Army and JAG Corps great places to work helps ensure that gender is not an issue.
5. What do you think has been the key to your success?
The Army in general and the JAG Corps in particular are full of fantastic people motivated by public service and the desire to serve our nation as part of something bigger than any individual. It is these team mates that make an Army career in the JAG Corps more than just a job. Challenging, but always supported, being able to move cutting edge issues of national interest forward in an environment that values competence, hard work, and team work set the conditions for success.
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