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Enlisted Empowerment—The Female Perspective: SKC Bynn Simonetti

January 16, 2018

This report originally published at allhands.coastguard.dodlive.mil.

Blog series created by Petty Officer 2nd Class Courtney Myers.

This is the 13th in a series of Q+A blog posts highlighting enlisted female leaders serving in the U.S. Coast Guard. Be sure to check back monthly for more career insight, mentorship and inspiration.

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Please describe your daily duties.

I am a chief storekeeper who works at the Deputy Commandant for Mission Support (DCMS) Office of Budget Execution. I am a funds manager, reconciler, and purchase card approving official. In my spare time, I am an avid champion of spreading knowledge and opportunities to my shipmates on mentoring and leadership.

SKC Simonetti poses for a photo after getting her anchored pinned on.

SKC Simonetti poses for a photo after getting her anchored pinned on.

What is the most memorable moment of your career?

My most memorable moment in my career was when I made chief. It afforded me the opportunity to see my career in a whole new light; also when I went back to Cape May to be a company mentor.

What is your favorite part of your job?

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I really enjoy problem solving and working with my customers. Most of all I enjoy helping my shipmates through mentoring and teaching.

Did you ever feel like giving up? If so, what made you keep pushing?

Who doesn’t?! I feel like giving up when I become very overwhelmed with my workload; however, I have a very solid work ethic that I pride myself in and I remind myself of that. I have honor in holding myself to my word. Periodically, as a mother, I feel like giving up on my job to dedicate myself to my children but I always think – if I would not be proud of that, then would they be proud of that? I also think of my role models and how they prevailed through tough situations. Most of all I turn to God, this makes me realize that it’s all little stuff – it will pass – and that my belief in God, and my morals far outweighs any thought of giving up. I remind myself that the measure of my life is the amount of life I give to others and giving up is not only giving up on myself but also giving up on others.

Do you feel as though you have faced obstacles that your male counterparts have not?

Yes, I do feel that I’ve faced an obstacle – I always thought I needed to try harder than my male counterparts. I am not sure if a male has ever felt they needed to try harder than a female, I could be wrong. I’ve come to learn that it’s usually a story I am telling myself. I’ve come to learn that as women we can make ourselves believe that it’s different for us – in most cases, when in all reality we need to create a different story for ourselves. How a person perceives us is far less important than how we perceive ourselves. We must treat ourselves as equals however, we must also personally recognize, openly talk about, and appreciate our differences. Diversity/gender obstacles should not be a taboo subject. It’s okay to be different or have weaknesses, we are all human. The beautiful thing is we all have strengths and something to offer. The only way to combat diversity and gender obstacles is to make them widely known and openly discussed. Women are obviously different than males and we bring a great wealth of value to the table.

SKC Simonetti with her two children.

SKC Simonetti with her two children.

Do you have a hobby that you enjoy outside of work? If so, please explain.

I really enjoy buying homes that need to be remodeled and working with my husband to make them beautiful. I love boxing, cooking and traveling.

Is there anything in particular you do outside of your Coast Guard service to maintain your personal identity?

I am Jewish and I love going to Synagogue as much as I can. I also enjoy teaching my children about being Jewish. I go to my boxing gym at least three times a week and strive to go more.

Are you a mother? If so, do you ever find it difficult to balance mom life and operational life?

Yes, I have two beautiful little warriors, a 3 1/2 year old, Leah, and a 14 month old, Lydia. It’s the most difficult thing I’ve ever done in my life. I believe the phrase work-life balance is more of a goal that you are always trying to reach but you never actually get there. I am always straddling the line of feeling guilty for not being there enough for my girls or not being there enough for my job. I’ve always strived to improve on this part of my life, but it has always been tough for me. I love being a mom and I love being in the Coast Guard.

What advice would you give to young women thinking about joining the service?

I have more advice that you can imagine! I should write a book on advice … and read one as well.

Serving in the Coast Guard is such an honor; we are such a small and proud service. We pride ourselves in being the jack-of-all-trades. We are a humanitarian service and there is nothing more valuable than helping others.

If going enlisted, choose a rating that you love. If the wait is long, wait – don’t do something you do not see yourself doing 15 years from now. You are responsible for your own success. Set realistic goals and track achieving them. If you want to be an Officer in Charge of a station, know your path. Diversify your career. If you are single without children, get underway, get your Permanent Cuttermans pin. Get your degree – travel.

What is the most valuable lesson the Coast Guard has taught you in regards to leadership?

SKC Simonetti with her family.

SKC Simonetti with her family.

I learned that being a good leader is intentional. I learned to be an effective leader you must never stop learning. For example: pick up a book, take risks, step out of your comfort zone, go mentor someone, be mentored, reflect on mistakes, reflect on achievements. Set goals on what type of leader you would like to be a figure out how to get there.

If you have used Tuition Assistance, please tell us about your experience?

I have used a lot of Tuition Assistance. It is such a wonderful benefit. I received my Bachelors Degree in Business Management at zero cost! I am so thankful for this benefit.

Do you have a mentor? If so, how did you go about choosing this individual?

I do have a wonderful mentor. She is my rock and I am so lucky to have her. I chose her because she is passionate about what I am passionate about. She is such a great listener and she holds me accountable. She is also a certified professional coach, which has such immense value to me. I am forever grateful for her.

Please share your favorite sea story (that you wouldn’t mind getting published).

Arrrrrr… Sea stories.

I was a (collateral duty) rescue swimmer aboard Coast Guard Cutter Morgenthau. Before swim call, they would lower the small boat in the water with the rescue swimmer in it so they could jump in the water and take a look around. Unbeknownst to me, I jumped into the water with thousands of jellyfish who decided to whip me and sting me with their tentacles. I swear I swam so fast out of that water it felt like I was running on top of it. It was funny and scary at the same time.

If there was one thing you wish you would have known when you reported to your first unit that you know now, what would it be?

To stay underway until I received my Permanent Cutterman’s pin. I am so close and now that I have children, it is very hard for me to think about leaving them. I really wish I had achieved this before I had children.

Are you in search of a mentor, additional leadership or just a push in the right direction? Do you have rating questions and need a brain to pick? If so, Chief Simonetti has expressed interest in being a mentor and invites you to ask questions and share your experience. She can be reached via Global.

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