Natick fosters women’s leadership

Andrea St. George (pictured here standing, right), an Organizational Development specialist and Leadership Development program manager at the Natick Soldier Research, Development and Engineering Center, addresses a women’s leadership meeting. St. George is leading an effort to revitalize a Natick’s women’s leadership program. Sandi Hickey, (pictured here standing, left), NSRDEC’s senior intelligence officer, and Jen Rego, (not included in photo) a research chemist working in the Office of the Chief Scientist, are working with St. George on the effort.

The Natick Soldier Research, Development and Engineering Center is not only looking for women leaders but hoping to help create and cultivate them.

Three NSRDEC employees, led by Andrea St. George, an organizational development specialist and leadership development program manager at NSRDEC, are hoping to revitalize a women’s leadership program that began in 2008.

Sandi Hickey, NSRDEC’s senior intelligence officer and Jen Rego, a research chemist working in the Office of the Chief Scientist, are working with St. George.

St. George said the group is dedicated to building a “supportive community of professional women” who are devoted to “career development and professional/personal empowerment.”

“Our goal is to create a community where thoughts, goals and ideas can be shared in a supportive environment — no matter what the topic may be,” said Hickey.

The group wants to establish meetings and activities that will benefit employees by “bringing motivated people together to explore leadership topics, network together and brainstorm ideas for growth, development, connection and support to help employees feel connected to the greater community,” said St. George.

The very first meeting was held in early May during lunchtime.

“There was much discussion regarding ‘leadership,’” said Hickey. “It seemed as though many in the room equated leadership as only referring to their jobs, positions or career fields. Our thought behind leadership was more than that — we were focusing on personal leadership, as well as professional. We envisioned this group as one for personnel of all levels; we are all leaders in some way — of ourselves, our families, as well as our careers.”

The initial meeting was attended by between 35 to 40 Natick employees.

“That’s a lot of talent in one room, and there is so much we can learn from each other,” said St. George.

“There was such a great turnout at the info session, and I am excited to see how the group progresses from here,” said Rego, who is relatively new to NSRDEC. “I think the opportunity to meet and learn from other women in the organization is incredibly valuable.”

St. George said that the group will be hosting a variety of formal and informal events. Formal events may include watching women’s leadership-related TED talks, followed by group discussions and brainstorming. Informal events may include hiking, book clubs and other activities. Feedback from attendees will shape the activities and topics of future meetings.

“I think these meetings will benefit the workforce by providing a networking opportunity through a positive, supportive community where perspectives and ideas can be openly shared so that others can learn from shared experiences and feel empowered to take actions in their own life,” said Rego.

“Leadership development is ongoing and can happen in many forms,” said St. George. “I think that by realizing that you are in charge of your own growth and development — personally and professionally — you can start to make decisions about how you spend your time developing the skills you want to work on. Having a support system in place to network, share ideas and encourage one another will help us all grow as leaders. I’m excited to see the group grow and evolve.”

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The U.S. Army Natick Soldier Research, Development and Engineering Center is part of the U.S. Army Research, Development and Engineering Command, which has the mission to provide innovative research, development and engineering to produce capabilities for decisive overmatch to the Army against the complexities of the current and future operating environments in support of the Joint Warfighter and the Nation. RDECOM is a major subordinate command of the U.S. Army Material Command.