A few weeks ago, I wrote about four female veterans who will be making history running for Congress this coming November. I recently interviewed Donna McAleer who is one of the four candidates. Ms. McAleer is seeking election for Utah’s 1st Congressional District, which is now occupied by Rob Bishop. Donna McAleer is a Graduate of West Point and also has her MBA degree, which means she is a Military MBA.
Profiling Ms. McAleer should help other officer MBAs understand why they are qualified for important jobs and careers.
We talked politics, but I did not want our interview to be overtly political. Nevertheless, Ms. McAleer takes the profession of arms and governance seriously. This is her first attempt at running for any type of political office. She started on a national level because she believes a person should begin where they can contribute the most.
Donna McAleer represents a new type of leadership opportunity in America today. She is someone who has lived leadership and has many centers of knowledge. Based upon her established track record, you get the sense that she can get things done as well as any male candidate. Yet she has the compassion of a woman who her rivals will find hard to match. Her campaign slogan – “Not left. Not Right. But Forward.” – aptly sums up her approach to public life.
She brought up the topic of mission and responsibility several times during our interview. At one point Ms. McAleer said, “In politics, the military is important because it has a clear sense of mission.” She feels the purpose of mission is lost in politics and to a certain degree in business and we must get it back.
She also felt the military offered politics, education and business, “Diversity of experience and thought.” This is true and can be backed up by several sources who cite the military as the largest diversity employer in the world.
Ms. McAleer feels an MBA is a great path for people coming out of military. “Acquiring a business skill set adds capabilities that can be used such as an understanding of financials, accounting and economics which the military can’t provide.” McAleer mentioned the value of knowing how to fund raise in her current campaign.
After 4 years of working for GenRad post MBA, McAleer believes management consulting offers an interesting path that sharpens your analytical skills. She also feels MBA grads with a military background are well suited to work for nonprofits and NGOs. Interestingly, Ms. McAleer looks at entrepreneurial work as service to our nation.
McAleer also made a statement that MBA programs and bschools need military students. “Along with having learned leadership at an early age, they bring a practical side that consists of P&L experience and responsibilities to MBA schools.”
She also discussed West Point and serving in the military as more than a formative experience. “It’s not just that you grow up, it’s how you grow up. You learn to deal with, and involve, all types of people.”
When I asked her about the advice she would give to women in or going into the military, she didn’t say it was all positive. Overall, she offered the following advise to women, “Careers are not always linear paths. Take risks. Break boundaries. Know, but ignore, your limits. You can have it all, but not all at once. Be willing to accept tradeoffs.”
We will continue to follow and update you on Ms. McAleer’s run for Congress here.