Friday, November 21, 2008

Wife versus Professional

This week, I attended the CG Innovation Expo in Virginia Beach, VA. There, I wore two hats: Christina the professional and Christina the wife. Clad in my black power suit, armed with my business cards, and poised to advocate for every USCG Alaska project forthcoming, I was a polished professional. And yet, I still had to call upon my wife-ly charms.

You see, I work with some retired admirals. Within my company's ranks, they are the business development professionals who network and go after multiple contracts that, in turn, provide billable hours for employees like me. In my new role, I am emerging as a one-of-a-kind balancing act of both these categories. I provide technical services to current projects, but I have been given the support to go after some business development opportunities. Like these admirals, I was networking, schmoozing, and learning about key developments in the Coast Guard's reorganization efforts.

The admirals would pull me into conversations with men and women who had served under them-- all of whom are either LCDR, CDR, or admirals themselves. With great pleasure, I listened closely and watched how my colleagues recalled jovial times at sea and yet still learned about an upcoming initiative. Each time I was introduced as my company's Alaskan USCG Lead and noted that I lived on Kodiak, the retired admirals always followed up with, "And her husband is on the Munro."

Smiling brightly, I answered what questions I could about their now infamous patrol seizures (all officers attending had been briefed during some breakout sessions), but attempted to steer the conversation back to what talents I bring to Kodiak and how I could help the USCG...

And yet return questions included:

"So, how's the halibut fishing?"
"Your husband just got home. Why are you here?"
"Is this your first winter?"

Sigh. I wanted to hold a sign like Wylie Coyote: "Yes, I am a proud Coast Guard wife who lives on Kodiak. But, I am a seasoned environmental professional who can help you prepare for the assets coming to the world's largest Coast Guard base. Let me tell you how."

Next time, I'll pack my sharpie...

Instead, I promised the current fleet of admirals that I would pass on their regards to my husband and enjoy the fresh air in Kodiak. I responded that I would be happy to take any of them halibut fishing if they decided to visit the Rock.


Flo said...

Glad you had fun in VA! I looked for you in my friend Peter's photos since he was there too, you'll have to share some if you took any :)

AVT said...

You know, I hadn't thought about a wife running into the same thing that a daughter of a Coastie who is now a Coastie herself runs into!

The idea that you are a professional in your own right away from your family connection.

Good for you on keeping it real and bringing them back to what YOU can do! :D