February 6, 2013 -- style="margin: 0in 0in 10pt;">By Monique Randolph, MCSC Corporate Communications
It was one of the most selfish decisions he ever made, but when Lance Raymond set out to earn his doctorate in organizational leadership, he knew he had to be “all in.”
The Marine Corps veteran turned civilian Marine enrolled in the program through The Chicago School of Professional Psychology in January 2010. In December 2012, he officially added the letters “Ph.D.” to the end of his name.
“I say it was a selfish decision because it took me away from my family and friends,” said Raymond, head of the Research, Development, Testing and Evaluation Appropriation Branch in Marine Corps Systems Command’s Office of the Director of Financial Management/Comptroller. Four months after he enrolled in the program, Raymond’s wife—a Marine Corps officer—gave birth to their son, and his in-laws moved to the area to provide a support system for the new parents.
“It was tough,” Raymond said. “It was time consuming, and I had to push everything else to the side to complete it. I know that wasn’t easy on my wife, but she and her family were very supportive. I’m thankful for that.”
Despite many personal sacrifices, obtaining his doctorate was one of his most rewarding experiences, Raymond said.
“It changed me in a great way,” he said. “As a supervisor, it gave me a better understanding of how people behave and how managers and supervisors can engage and inspire people.”
Raymond said his passion for learning and the support of his leaders at MCSC helped him complete the program.
“I get excited when I’m learning new things, when I’m contributing and expanding my knowledge and mind,” he said. “I got that [feeling] almost every day. I was learning about things that inspired me; things I could apply to my experiences at work. To me, that was incredibly exciting.”
Raymond paid for his education using MCSC’s tuition assistance program and Montgomery G.I. Bill benefits he received from his time in the Marine Corps. MCSC contributed more than $20,000 in tuition assistance during the first two years of his program, which was very helpful, he said.
Raymond also interviewed several members of the command for his final 125-page dissertation, receiving the coveted “approved with distinction” rating by a board of professors from the university.
“I was incredibly humbled by the willingness of the individuals in the command who participated and how much they shared with me,” Raymond said. “The entire experience was fascinating and transformational. I think it was their support that made my study such a success.”
Raymond earned the command’s support because of his dedication and stellar performance, said Michelle Cresswell, director of Financial Management and Raymond’s supervisor.
About a year into his doctorate program, the command initiated a hiring freeze, and the Financial Management Office had a 33 percent vacancy rate, she said.
“Lance performed the work of six or seven people, and it was just amazing that he was able to get everything done,” Cresswell said. “I was so proud of the work he accomplished while also completing his coursework.”
Frequent communication and planning were important throughout the process, Cresswell said. When Raymond needed additional time to conduct research, interviews and other requirements for his doctoral thesis, they worked together to put him on a flexible schedule to give him the time he needed.
“Lance sacrificed so much for the command. Offering him that flexibility was one way to reward him for his contributions and commitment,” she said. “I think it’s important as leaders to provide supportive and nurturing environments for people to grow, especially stellar performers. Not only did this reward Lance, but it rewarded the organization because his Ph.D. is in an area completely relevant to our mission.”
Raymond said his next challenge is to look for more ways to put his new credentials to work.
“I want to make sure that whatever I’m doing, I experience the type of passion I felt when I was doing my doctorate,” he said. “I know what I’m really passionate about and what I’m effective at doing. I’d love to combine practice with advancing the literature and people’s awareness of leadership and management principles. I just have to make sure I put myself in situations where I leverage my strengths to the best of my ability.”