Meet Katie Christy: A Military Spouse with MadSkills
Hi, I’m Katie! I was born and raised in Northeast Wyoming’s coal country and grew up with a pioneering spirit and a fondness for wide-open spaces. After college, I immediately married my Army Aviator husband and began this crazy journey we call life. I struggled to find meaningful employment in my field of choice (Finance) in the remote duty stations we were located. Along the way, I worked hard to maintain a professional identity and gained in small business, personal finance, and leader development.
But it wasn’t until 2014 that I took the leap of faith and began my entrepreneurial journey. I co-founded Task Force 144, an organization dedicated to developing exceptional leaders and great teams. Highlights of my time with Task Force 144 include presenting at SXSW Interactive 2015, helping a group of executives become “Fit 2 Lead” in a 12-week program, and leading organizations through a variety of adventure-based leadership development sessions. I then took all of the entrepreneurial skills and applied them to forming Activate Your Talent, a Strengths- based company that seeks to be a catalyst for positive change in clients’ physical fitness, professional careers, and personal finances.
I sincerely enjoy finding and conquering physical and mental challenges and have attained various certifications (TRX, CrossFit, Gallup Certified Strengths Coach) that help share my passions with others. But my true passion and purpose is helping people understand their natural talents and how to leverage that knowledge to be more effective in both their personal and professional life. I relish the opportunity to give keynote speeches at conferences and events (AFCPE Annual Conference, Embark, American Dream University and Somalis are a few examples). It is my desire to help individuals and organizations cultivate and leverage their unique Strengths by sharing my knowledge and experience in a highly interactive, discussion- based format. I seek to provide others with a common language to discuss and appreciate each person’s unique contribution.
What was your first move towards working in a remote capacity and/or becoming a military spouse entrepreneur?
I began working in a remote capacity when my first son was born in 2007. At first, I assumed that I would have to leave my job because we were so far from family and I didn’t have reliable childcare. After fretting about the situation for longer than I would care to admit, I finally had a discussion with my boss and laid out my plan for success: working a majority of my hours from home and only coming into the office when necessary. This solution sounds simple, but it was a lightbulb moment for me. No one was going to take control of my career for me or ask for the things I needed…I had to do it for myself! After proving myself as a responsible and valuable employee, they were more than happy to keep me on the team. Ever since then I have negotiated with every single one of my employers to enable me to both be a productive employee and engaged mother by working remotely.
What is your definition of military spouses as an ‘untapped resource’?
Military spouses are our nation’s biggest untapped resource because they possess a plethora of unique strengths, some of which haven’t been activated in quite some time. For example, I joined a “mom’s group.” I just assumed they were stay-at-home moms. (Stay-at-home moms, I believe, are absolute rock stars and is a full-time job in itself.) But actually, they were all experienced doctors, lawyers, and business executives who’ve chosen to step back from their career to support their service member and family. As we continued our conversation, every single one expressed an interest in returning to their chosen field IF their employer was willing to offer part-time, flexible schedules. My respect for these ladies grew while my frustration with the “traditional” workforce exploded. It is mind-boggling to think of the amount of collective strengths and skills that goes overlooked due to restrictive world views!
What would you tell other military spouses looking to start a professional career?
I would tell military spouses looking to start a professional career first to invest the time to understand their areas of natural talent. We all have things that we are good at doing, that energize us after we finish, and that we lose all track of time/space while completing. It is those very things that give us clues to our areas of passion and strength. Once you understand your talent, you then need to invest the resources necessary into your personal and professional development. All of us, no matter where we are at in our journey, need to work to refine and mature our talents into useable strengths. It is then and only then, that we will have a clear vision of our unique passion and purpose. Armed with the knowledge, we’ll then be able to find (or create) a career that enables us to share our talents with the world around us!
If you were put on a panel involved in an initiative to improve military spouse employment opportunities and corporate awareness of the MadSkills that professional spouses bring to the workforce, what suggestions would you make?
I would suggest that employers look beyond the wedding ring and puzzle piece resumes to see the immense value military spouses bring to the table. We need to change the mindset that a military spouse comes with too much “baggage” (multiple children, absent spouses, the possibility of moving, etc) that cannot be mitigated. With enough determination and support, all of those issues can easily be resolved and worked around. Once that mindset has changed from obstacle to opportunity, corporations will finally see the abundance of trained and professional military spouses waiting to join their team.
All of us, no matter where we are at in our journey, need to work to refine and mature our talents into useable strengths. It is then and only then, that we will have a clear vision of our unique passion and purpose.Katie Christy
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