For her contributions as a role model and her work as a mentor, Marine Corps System Command’s Sandra Switzer earned the 2006 Latina Style Magazine’s Meritorious Service Award. The magazine presented the award during the 3rd Annual National Latina Symposium held in Washington Sept. 7. Latina Style presents awards annually to key Latina leaders for their leadership, accomplishments and commitment to building a strong community.
“I was surprised, honored and thrilled at receiving this award,” said Switzer, who has served in five positions during her six years with the Marine Corps. She credits the Corps with helping her win this award.
“They see you doing one thing well and move you on to another challenge,” said Switzer. “My first position with the Corps was with MARCORSYSCOM’S Command Redesign Team. Then I was the business manager for the Strategic Business Team for Infantry Weapons Systems.”
From there, Switzer took a position as the director of the Change Management Center.
“We were just beginning to kick off the whole command redesign and determining how to implement new processes that were just beginning to be put into place,” stated the awardee.
Following that challenge, she attended the Industrial College of the Armed Forces (ICAF) and received her second masters degree. While attending ICAF, she wrote and published a paper on Command and Control. Barry Dillon, MARCORSYSCOM’s executive director, told Switzer that he had read her paper and asked if she would become a business manager in an IT environment.
“I knew nothing about IT, but I like challenges,” said Switzer. She took her current position as the Business Manager for Information Systems Infrastructure.
Switzer attributes her success to her parents, who were both products of the depression and had a definite work ethic. “If you worked hard, they said you will get ahead,” she stated, adding that they both also emphasized education. Switzer has an undergraduate degree in Economics, an MBA and a masters degree in National Resource Strategy.
What the educated awardee really likes about the Marine Corps is being close to the Marines. “MARCORSYSCOM is such a small cohesive tight group,” said Switzer. “And the Marines are willing to take on any type of job no matter what it is. Seeing that strong work ethic in the Marine Corps really echoes the type of corps values that I grew up with in my family.”
For Switzer there is a comfort zone with being in the Corps. “I may ask a lot of myself, but for the Marines, there it isn’t anything different.”
Her advice for others… “You have to be confident, but not cocky, and you have to be able to come across that you know your stuff,” offered Switzer. “Sometimes it’s just being forward leaning, and sometimes it’s good to take some risks.”