DLA - Defense Logistics Agency

03/28/2024 | Press release | Distributed by Public on 03/28/2024 03:19

Women's History Month Spotlight: Robin Nichols

Throughout March, in honor of Women's History Month, DLA will celebrate women who have made an impact through their sacrifices, public service, and inspirational work. This year's theme, "Women Who Have Made Great Achievements," acknowledges women who have shaped U.S. history and made contributions to pave the way forward. By regularly highlighting DLA employees through Special Emphasis Program observances, we gain valuable insight and perspective from individuals who represent the full diversity of our agency's workforce.

The following Women's History Month Q&A features Robin Nichols, who serves as president of American Federation of Government Employees Local 1626.

What strategies have you found most effective in navigating challenges and achieving success in your leadership role?

I wouldn't say they are strategies but the way I have learned to live my life. I believe there are several ways in which to achieve success. In every challenge, I put myself in someone else's shoes and ask myself 'what would I tell them when facing a challenge and how to achieve success?' Treat others the way you want to be treated, weigh out the pros and cons of the decisions you are making to make the best one, and keep learning. Educating yourself - even as a leader - is the key to success.

How do you prioritize and balance different responsibilities to ensure both personal and professional growth?

Life balance is very important to me. My commitment to family, church, and work are all important to me. While family and church life come first, I do all I can to find a balance so nothing fails. I take a step back and look at what would have greater consequences if it had to be delayed a day or so. I have learned along the way to delegate things more, so things do not fall behind.

What advice do you have for aspiring women looking to advance in their careers?

Determine what it is that you want to achieve first. Then, begin to learn as much as you can. It is also important to watch others and learn from them, emulate the things that are positive but still make it your own. Stay true to yourself and your beliefs; never compromise to advance your career.

How do you stay motivated and inspired as a leader?

When I see the impact I make in a person's life, then I know that although I have done well in my career, the sacrifices I made to further advance my own career are not in vain. There are many employees that I have helped along the way with advice, resume writing, interview techniques, and the list goes on. When I see them advance and know I had a part in that, it gives me joy and encouragement to keep pushing forward.

What is the most significant barrier to female leadership?

I would say that many times, women are not taken seriously and are not heard. Often, there are those who feel a female is in leadership to meet a quota when, in fact, she is the best qualified for the position.

Have you ever felt imposter syndrome, and if so, how did you navigate your way through it?

Yes, I have. Many times, when I have done my best, I often feel like it is not enough. I have a bad habit of overdoing it or working like I am Superwoman when, in fact, I have done my best to achieve overall success in what I have done. I have come to the realization that while others may believe in me, I must believe in myself. I still am a work in progress, but I am getting there. I concluded that I am human, and I am giving my all and my best.

Who was/is your role model and/or leadership mentor?

Personally, my role model is my mother, Mary Ann McDonald Nichols. Even in her death, I am inspired by her life and do all that I can to live my life in the way she raised me, reflect on the great and giving woman she was to others, and do all I can to emulate her each day. She raised me to be a God-fearing woman and with that I know where my success lies.

Professionally, my greatest leadership mentor has been Ms. Debra Greger. She was a leader with integrity, a bit of sass and a ton of wisdom. She gave me some of the best advice as a new leader - she told me this: "It's not what you say, but how you say it." Soft skills would get me a lot further in a conversation than coming in with an aggressive tone. She taught me that I can be assertive without being hard-nosed or disrespectful, per se. I took that lesson and applied it to my leadership skills and most times I am successful. I am still a work in progress.

What makes you a strong woman?

First, being raised by a strong woman makes me a strong woman - she was my example. Quitting was not an option, and I was taught that with each disappointment came a lesson and recipe for success. I am a strong woman because a strong woman raised me.

What fulfills you?

Knowing that I am staying true to myself. I learned a long time ago, while growing up, that I am a designer original, God made me to be me and no one else. I am my own authentic self and braver, stronger, and smarter than I believe. It is fulfilling knowing as I apply this to my everyday life that I can inspire others to do the same.

What advice do you have for women that want to do more?

Remain patient, set goals, and follow the path set before you. Learn and believe in yourself. Believe that all things are possible if you apply yourself. Don't be afraid to shadow others and emulate the positive things that can help you accomplish what you set out to do. Speak up and make it known that you want to do and learn more.

What advice do you have for women looking to grow within the government?

Remain patient, set goals, shadow others and emulate the positive things that can help you accomplish what you set out to do. Speak up and make it known that you want to do and learn more. Never go for a position/grade, look to advance your career, there is a difference. Enjoy what you are doing daily and if you come in each day with a positive attitude, surround yourself with like-minded people, avoid the rumor mill and don't settle for less. Lastly, stay true to yourself and never compromise your beliefs and standards to get more.