NORFOLK, Va. — Lt. Gen. Maria R. Gervais, U.S. Army Training and Doctrine Command, deputy commanding general, was the keynote speaker at the Army’s leadership forum during the Sea Services Leadership Association’s annual Joint Women’s Leadership Symposium held July 12 at the Norfolk Waterside Marriott.
The symposium provides professional development and networking opportunities for women from all services. This year’s theme, “Stronger by Helping Each Other” focused on how attendees can strengthen their teams and organizations.
“You don’t need to have the same experience as everyone else. What you have are the skills that brought you here. What is it that you bring to the table?” Gervais encouraged the audience of almost 100 Soldiers and Army civilians to ask themselves.
Gervais’ remarks focused on the importance of being authentic and realizing your own personal strengths to best contribute to an organization.
“When you find that, you become a successful and contributing member of that team,” Gervais said.
She went on to describe how even the smallest actions, such as not being an attentive listener, can impact team cohesion.
“Never underestimate your actions and your words and the impact they could have on others,” Gervais said. “Each and every night, I go home and ask myself, ‘what is it I did today that I wasn’t especially proud of, that I could have done better? How am I going to improve it?’”
Gervais’ words set the tone for the Army’s leadership forum which featured speakers and panels concentrated on how to have difficult discussions in the workplace; mentorship opportunities; the Army’s diversity, equity, and inclusion efforts; modernization; and leading in non-traditional fields.
While the Sea Services Leadership Association hosts the yearly event, the Joint Women’s Leadership Symposium is supported by all services and is one of the largest gatherings of military women in the nation. This year's iteration was the first in-person symposium held in over three years and allowed senior leaders across the services to address the topics and concerns most important to military women.
In closing, Gervais emphasized the importance of the symposium as a means for leaders at all levels to discuss ways to improve military culture.
“Where culture is really set, and where you really have to watch, is where the rubber meets the road,” she said. “That’s why it’s so important, at these events, to talk about these things and to make sure that we, as leaders, at all levels, from the youngest Soldier to the highest, are creating a positive environment.”
To participate or attend next year’s symposium, Soldiers and civilians of all ranks and grades may email firstname.lastname@example.org to be included in symposium news and updates.