Women belong in all places where decisions are being made. It shouldn’t be that women are the exception. – Ruth Bader Ginsburg
Our guest, Commander Kelly Deutermann takes us back to a point in her life where she felt that no matter what skills she brings to the table, someone will always doubt her capabilities. Instead of being discouraged, she trained in the US Coast Guard and earned the respect of her colleagues when she was promoted as an Instruction Pilot.
Kelly is MBA 2017 and currently a Program Examiner at the Office of Management and Budget. She talks about achieving things with extreme difficulties because of gender bias. Kelly shares how her time in the military led her to pursue an MBA and how she chose Berkeley-Haas because it resonates with her specific values. She also gives insight into how other women can focus on both their families and their careers.
Listen to this episode to hear an inspirational journey of perseverance, discipline, and hard work.
What is the proudest moment in your professional career?
[00:05:52] Becoming an instructor pilot. The next step after you become an aircraft commander is becoming an instructor pilot. And that’s when you’re the cadre of unit instructor, pilots, and your operations officer and your commanding officers say yes, this person has not only the skill set to teach younger folks but that demeanor, like if you think of bedside manner for clinicians of any sort, like you need to be able to communicate with people, you have to be able to connect with people. You have to be able to meet them where they are so that you help those light bulbs go off.
Why did you choose Haas?
[00:15:04] When I was looking at schools to apply to, when I went to the Haas website, I saw the defining principles and I was like, wait a minute, these seem to really describe me. And I just became more and more curious about it. And when I compare that to all of the other schools, all the other schools seemed very generic in their descriptions of the schools and the student bodies, like teamwork, collaboration, but no school had so firmly and well-defined principles that would guide their student body and the program. And so, I went all in. I was like, oh my God, I got to get to Haas. I got to get there because that seems like it’s the place for me.
What tips can you give to those who are pursuing success in their careers and personal lives?
[00:30:10] At this point, to be honest, it’s a big balance between what works for my family and then what works for me as a professional in the coast guard. Life doesn’t get simpler as you get older, you have a family and you have a partner, who’s got a career of his own, his or her own. You have to find balance with that. And so I’m doing the best I can to find that balance.
(Transcripts may contain a few typographical errors due to audio quality during the podcast recording.)
[00:00:04] Sean Li: Welcome to the One Haas Alumni Podcast. I’m your host, Sean Li. And today I’m joined by Kelly Deutermann. She is a full-time MBA class of 2017. And you served in the coast guard, right?
[00:00:16] Kelly Deutermann: I am currently still serving in the coast guard.
[00:00:19] Sean Li: Oh, you are currently still serving in the coast guard. Okay. That’s amazing. Well, first off, thank you for your service. Second of all, one of my classmates was in the coast guard, Andrew Price, and he, I don’t know if you know.
[00:00:30] Kelly Deutermann: I knew the name, but I don’t think I know him, but I do know his name.
[00:00:34] Sean Li: The one thing I loved that I learned from him that is fascinating to me was that the coast guard is not limited to the United States. So the coastal borders in the United States, right. You serve wherever there is a coast. I feel like potentially
[00:00:50] Kelly Deutermann: The entire world. Yeah.
[00:00:52] Sean Li: Yeah. So that was like a fun fact that I did. I was just blown away by, but yeah, first off, I’d love to hear about your background, Kelly, where you’re from, where you grew up.
[00:01:04] Kelly Deutermann: Sure. I’m from Northern California and I definitely have a soft spot in my heart for Sonoma County and in my hometown in Healdsburg, but I haven’t been there in a long time, which is a challenge for me. I want to go home. But yeah, so I was born in Healdsburg general hospital and graduated from Hillsborough high school. And I went two weeks after graduation into the coast guard academy. And that started my journey. I initially went because I wanted to fly helicopters. It just was like the craziest thing that I could think of that had been, I’d been exposed to upon or during my time in high school. And I was either going to, I had been accepted to the university of Chicago and I was weighing those two options heavily. And I went to the academy and I was like, this place sucks.
It’s ugly. Like people would talk to each other. I got the worst tour by the person who is, or who was there giving you a tour. The only cool thing about it was that I saw a submarine going up the same as river in, which is right, which is what borders the academy. And I came back and I was like, no way in hell. I’m going to the Coast Guard Academy. And then I went on a trip actually with my guidance counselor to Chicago to check out Chicago. And boy did I love that place. And from the store, you would think that I was actually going to go to Chicago. But when I got home, I was all jazzed. I had to ship my ruins shirts, put a sticker on my bedroom window. And I woke up the next morning and I was like, I’m going to the Coast Guard Academy.
And my mom went nuts. She was like, I’m so confused. And she thought me going into the military would turn me into a robot. And so she was just scared. And I can understand that what ultimately guided my decision was it would be a very cool prospect to go fly helicopters and do search and rescue and have a peacetime mission. But I also knew that it provided a sense of security. And that was really important to me given my upbringing that I would have food on the table, a roof over my head, a job for five years coming out of college, I get to travel. But really it was the sense of security and the prospect of flying helicopters. I never thought that would come true, like, because it was, you had to get through so many wickets for you to make it through swab summer, which is the Academy’s version of boot camp you had to make through your freshman year, which is just an extension of a hazing process.
And I say, hazing lightly, not really hazing. Then you have to make it through the academy. Then you have to go to a ship for two years, then be deemed fit enough to get an endorsement from your commanding officer to apply or have a competitive application to flight school. Then you have to get into flight school. Then you have to make it through flight school. Then you have to make it through the transition to whatever aircraft you’re assigned in the coast guard. And then you have to make it through to about three years of training in that aircraft to become an aircraft commander. So when I decided that as a 17-year-old in high school, I’m looking at four years at the academy, two years on a ship two years at flight school, and then another three years fine before I could actually say I did it. So, one of those things like the prospect was always really cool, but you just had to kind of keep in mind that, like, there was a lot of smaller things that had to, you had to make it through every day of each of those phases.
[00:04:15] Sean Li: And I guess just that desire to fly a helicopter carried you through all those years until you got there.
[00:04:23] Kelly Deutermann: Yeah. It was very aspirational for sure. I have to give credit to the person who recruited me to do this. His name is Dennis Parker and he’s still in my hometown. And he saw something in me and he was a former coast guard helicopter pilot. He grew up in a town, a neighboring town to Healdsburg and he went off and then he came back and he just did a number. He got me on a helicopter ride, not as a high school student. He took me on a coast guard boat out of the San Francisco Bay. He had me visiting with very senior folks and exposing me to a lot. So the idea was there, but it was more than like pictures or a poster on a wall. Like I’d seen real people doing it, but you know, a big driver for this was a lot of people when I would say, yeah, I’m thinking about the coast guard.
I would get a lot of like, oh, but you’re a girl, like, um, got many girls who do this. And so the more comments you get like that, it’s like, I’m tired of hearing it. Like just now watch me like, nah, then it just became, non-negotiable like, all right, well, I’m doing this because enough people have said, well, that’s going to be really hard for you. You know, no matter whatever skill set or competencies I brought to the table, it was always like, there was a lot, there was always a seed of doubt. And so you, if you give me a seed of doubt like I’m going to take that seed and plant it and we’ll see where it goes.
[00:05:44] Sean Li: That’s amazing. I loved reading about your proudest moments in your professional career at crowning achievement. Do you mind sharing a little bit about that?
[00:05:51] Kelly Deutermann: Oh, okay. Becoming an accepted pilot. So, not only do you make it through all the wickets that I previously mentioned, the next step after you become an aircraft commander is becoming an instructor pilot. And that’s when you’re the cadre of unit instructor pilots and your operations officer and your commanding officers say, yes, this person has not only the skillset to teach younger folks, but the demeanor, like if you think of bedside manner for clinicians of any sort, like you need to be able to communicate with people, you have to be able to connect with people. You have to be able to meet them where they are so that you help those light bulbs go off. And so when I received word that I was going to be put through the IP syllabus, it was a very proud moment because then, you know, as you go through it, I would say there were some folks who were not always as encouraging to me in the same vein of what I mentioned with, oh, you know, girls don’t do that.
Like, I mean, aviation is still aviation in the military and there’s definitely a good old boy club to that. And I definitely faced some of those dynamics, but I will say I had a huge champion in that. Right. And his name is Tombo Jones and combo. And I had a conversation one day and he realized that it was something that I was interested in. And then he became my champion because, you have to advocate for yourself, but you also have to have other champions. And in this case, he was my champion. And I couldn’t have asked for a better mentor in that regard. He’s somebody who’s really respected throughout the fleet, throughout my unit, and for him to have his endorsement for me carried a lot of weight. And so he gave his endorsement to the rest of the cadre and to the command.
And then I was put into the IP syllabus and then became an IP and had the privilege of instructing both younger folks, pilots who are coming up after me. But also as an IP, you have to evaluate people who are senior to you. And that can be tricky when you’re having to tell your direct supervisor or the commanding officer of the unit, like, wow, maybe that wasn’t flowing very well. Like maybe we should try this again. Or here’s a technique that you can use as we try that maneuver again. So when I think of that as being a crowning achievement, it’s like all of the hard work paid off, but I will say that the times that I’ve found I’ve been happiest and felt the most like pride and like you can’t take the smile off of my face is when I’m watching folks that I have had some sort of influence over either in training or mentorship, like watching them succeed, folks that, you know, like at my last unit, I had a line one or my last line unit, I had a line one who was just incredible.
And I also had a junior lieutenant working for me and they were just phenomenal people and incredible workers. And in the military, we give awards to people. So we give formal military recognition and it comes with a certificate and there’s a very standard format for a write-up like 13 outlined at five fonts. And we typically give the end-of-tour award. So like after three or four years of a unit, you say, congratulations on a job. Well done. Here’s your achievement at all? Or a letter of commendation or a meritorious service medal or combination. So anyone, any one of those, but after I had, I was working with them, I’m like, I don’t want to wait another two years before these guys get rewarded for incredible work. And so pushing the boundaries in that regard to get the unit awards board, to even consider these non-standard performance awards, that was kind of fun to me because it’s like, you know, these people deserve it, and then it gives them a leg up when it comes to their own promotions later on.
So there’s no immediate benefit beyond the recognition, but then having had success in getting some of those through, you get to see them standing in front of the unit and having their citations read to them. And like that made me feel so good because so many good things come when people feel rewarded and appreciated for the work that they do, especially when you’re on timed promotions. And you can only, you can’t job hunt in the military. Like you can on the civilian side, like you can’t stay in one job for a year and then kind of go find your next promotion and your next pay raise. Like the awards are kind of where it’s at in terms of that kind of satisfaction. And then knowing that I could help folks make like one little step closer to that on top of providing, you know, whatever support I could have their supervisor throughout my time. But it’s just something that when I look back on and I think of like, what am I most proud of? Yes. Like, I’m very proud of my personal accomplishments in aviation, but that’s not always the first thing that comes to mind. It’s usually the smiles and the gratitude you just watch, watching folks succeed. It’s really like that’s really where I start to feel like really good at practicing.
[00:10:54] Sean Li: That’s amazing. This is just a side question. I’m really curious what is a multi-mission aviator?
[00:11:03] Kelly Deutermann: So the coast guard, we have 11 statutory missions. So you could get launched on a search and rescue mission and then say on your way back from that there’s a small oil spill, or there’s a sheen on the water and you need to go check out in the oil sheen. So now you’re shifting to like environmental type work and then say you land somewhere away from home base and you get gas, and now you have a full tank gas and on your way home, there’s a call for a law enforcement mission, like siding of a vessel, carrying migrants coming. And so then we would go in and find out and check that out to see if there were migraines in the water. So multi-mission just means we’re trained. And in all the various mission sets that are pertinent to that air responsibility for that unit, and then you fly those missions and you never know the order those missions could come in. You never know which one at what time of day. And in humble, we were simultaneously in a mountainous region and on the coastline. And so on occasion, we would fly in the mountain so you have to be as capable and well-versed in your mountain flying procedures, as you do your over-water procedures and atmospherics at three to 4,000 feet are very different than they are 20 feet over the open ocean.
[00:12:23] Sean Li: It’s amazing. So, tell us, Kelly, what brought you to the business school?
[00:12:25] Kelly Deutermann: It’s another like, whereas going to the coast guard academy was like this big, long process. And like I had to think really hard about it and have a lot of options. Going to business school actually came as a complete pivot. And I had like two weeks to prepare. I had been assigned an investigation at my unit prior to Haas, and it ended up being a really hard investigation. It was a sexual harassment investigation and it took me six months to complete on top of my flying duties. I had a newborn at home and I was in department head, but the content of the investigation was expansive. And I had to do, I think something like 30 something or 40 interviews. And each of the interviews took on a range from like one to seven hours. And then I had to write all of that up.
And basically, I had been assigned an investigation that was really challenging and it made me realize that what I had perceived as my future in the Coast Guard no longer felt like the right path for me. And what I was going to do is I was going to pursue a master’s in public administration and in, but that, what that does is it sets you up for a future in federal government. At least that’s what I perceived at the time. And having had this experience around this investigation, I needed to just take a hard pause on that line of thought and reevaluate. And so I realized that I did not have any background or understanding of what it meant to live and work in the civilian business world because remember I went to the coast guard academy two weeks out of graduation from high school. And there’s no room for experimenting with other career paths like you’re in it.
And then your social network is also very coast guard-based with the exception of the one that you had back home. But I left that network. I moved 3000 miles away. And so while I remained connected with them, I wasn’t living a breathing life with them. I just realized I needed to expand my horizons a little bit. And this was the summer. And I had already done all of my prep work to put in my application to the coast guard to be accepted to their MPA program. And then I would go in and put in applications to school, but it was about two weeks before the MBA deadline was. And I was like, ah, ha, MBA’s my new number one. I better go get that GMAT taken care of. And I need to now change my application so that the coast guard sees that MBA is number one.
And so I did this really quick turnaround and I ended up getting accepted to the coast guard-sponsored graduate school program, meaning the coast guard would then sponsor me to pursue an MBA. And once accepted, then I applied to the various business schools. And that is how I was introduced to Haas was when I was looking at schools to apply to, when I went to the Haas website, I saw the defining principles and I was like, wait a minute like this, these seem to really describe me. And I just became more and more curious about it. And when I compared that to all of the other schools, all the other schools seemed very generic in their descriptions of the schools and the student body like teamwork collaboration, but no school had so formerly and well-defined principles that would guide their student body and the program.
And so I went all in. I was like, oh my God, I got to get tossed. I got to get there because that seems like it’s the place for me. That was my journey. It was a two-week pivot. And then when I got accepted, I was like, fantastic. I have no idea what I’m getting into. I thought I was going, cause all of my education in the past were very technical programs. And so I thought I was going to get another technical degree this time with spreadsheets and could not have been further from the truth. And I’m so grateful for that.
[00:16:31] Sean Li: What did you like most about it? I mean, I’m sure that this is like that question earlier where, you know, what is your crowning achievement? And I’m sure you have a lot, what’s your favorite mode of Haas? I think that’s hard for me to even answer. It’s like when people ask me, which one of your podcasts episodes is your favorite, it’s like, which one’s your favorite interview? All of them.
[00:16:52] Kelly Deutermann: Yeah. Cause they’re all unique, right? Like everything’s neat and interesting.
[00:16:56] Sean Li: I guess based on what you just told me, what’s surprised you about the MBA coming in, thinking it was all going to be about spreadsheets.
[00:17:05] Kelly Deutermann: It was really fun. I wasn’t used to having a lot of fun in my career. Like it was all very serious all the time. And part of that’s my personality, I’m sure a lot of people don’t identify with that description of their experiences in the same schools and things that I did. Cause you know, a lot of people thought flight school was a giant party in some cases. And so for me, it’s always like the, I was never willing to let myself kind of be flexible in terms of my standards of achievement because I always had a very healthy dose of if I don’t perform today, this could be my last day. I mean, in-flight school, if you have a bad day that can result in death, but it was more like the fear of failure if I don’t perform today.
And I don’t mean crashing the aircraft. I mean, like if I don’t meet the standards today, that’s step one. And at that time, you get what we call downs. Like you get three downs and you’re out. So if you over the course of two years of training. And so I just took every day for the most part very seriously. And I didn’t allow myself to have a whole lot of fun because I was so focused on getting what I needed to get done to have a successful day so I could achieve the next thing and getting to Haas. I learned that it wasn’t a black-and-white decision like that. It was, you can do both. You can have the time of your life and perform because the people that you’re performing with are also having the time of their life. And they’re also very high achievers and you all are, you’re kind of going through this experience together that is engineered to be a really good time. So like that was never, ever part of my experience before nothing was ever engineered to be a really good time.
[00:18:49] Sean Li: I mean, that’s so interesting here. I mean, it’s, again, as a civilian, you rarely think that, you know, why we’re rarely put in situations where any decisions that we make potentially are life and death decisions, not just for ourselves, right. But you know, as a helicopter pilot there, you’re rescuing other people. You have crew on that you’re flying and there are other people’s lives in your hands in many ways. And obviously, civilian life and business decisions are just less drastic like that. But so don’t blame you at all for being serious.
[00:19:25] Kelly Deutermann: And I definitely took it to heart. I was a safety officer at Humboldt and I was responsible for the safety program. And so I was looking at the mishaps that we had. I was responsible for writing up the narratives of when things didn’t go, right, what we could have done differently, and then doing it all in a non-punitive way. Like that’s something that the military really has, right. At least on the coast guard side. And we were maybe trained in that regard. No safety culture or program is perfect, but we’ve got a pretty good one.
So my favorite thing at Haas is the people and the experiences I recently was at a wedding and I got reunited with a ton of my classmates because there’s not many of us on the east coast. There were a couple when I started here with me in terms of classmates and they’ve both moved away, but a new one came in and I’m so excited. But just the opportunity to be with people who didn’t necessarily think the same way that you did.
Like the coast guard is a very homogenous organization. I’m very, and like in comparison to other military services, we have very high retention. So the people I went to college with are generally still the people I’m working with today. I’ll say it’s a very unique experience to have people who you work with. And not only you, like you went to school with, but people who went to the same program who are older than you, but it’s like, you all have the same-ish adult experiences and perspective that’s shaped from generally the same culture. So going to Haas and meeting and being with people who had just completely different backgrounds and perspectives was so eye opening and just gave me so much energy because I was learning so much from everybody and everybody was so kind and curious. And I still look at that as the highlight of my military career was going to UC Berkeley hospital because it was so different. You know, it was such a change.
[00:21:30] Sean Li: I was reading in your prior interviews about Toby Stewart and Rob Chandra’s class, the late Rob Chandra. If I had a regret, that would have been not taking their class when I had the opportunity, but there was one thing that caught my eye about what you said, and I’m really curious to ask you about this. And you had said that their class was beyond entrepreneurship, right. It was a life lesson. And I’m curious to hear what you meant by that.
[00:22:00] Kelly Deutermann: Sure. So when I think back to that class, I think of it as being a leadership class. And it was about looking at taking, which is to market in a different way and looking at the human element behind that, how that gets done. And I remember how the case that week was about a lifestyle business. And at the end of the lesson, Toby, I remember this so vividly, you know, there’s a table in the middle of the room. I don’t know how the new rooms are, but he just walks up to that and his voice comes down a little bit. And he’s just like, got a very kind of introspective sound of voice. And this case was about this guy who had bought some sort of manufacturing facility, the way I pictured it was, you know, like the 10 sided warehousing house walls, gravel driveway with weeds coming up and Toby standing in front of that table with his hand, perched on it.
And then he pushes himself up and sits on the table and he says, would you guys buy some paint and paint the facility it’s run down? And everyone’s like, yeah, totally. Of course, you would. Would you pull the weeds and get rid of the junk in the driveway? Like yeah, of course who would, and you know, more of these questions and you’re like, oh, he’s leading into somewhere. And the way he brought it home was like, the person who’s running a lifestyle business is worried about putting food on their table. They don’t have excess cash to just randomly paint a new building when they’ve just taken over when they’re still studying the P and L statements. And he just, the way he nailed it home, it was like the simplest thing. But when you’re in a room and you just feel everybody, like you feel that the tension and you just feel how everybody’s focusing and it’s just so quiet because they’re listening and it was that, and it was such a simple case study, but it was so different from all of the rest.
And it was such a different perspective. Because you know, we’d been studying the hockey stick all semester, and then all of a sudden we’re learning about this guy who buys a manufacturing facility. Who’s now worried about the two penny margin on widget A and if that’s going to be the thing that takes them out of the red, it was that kind of stuff where it shouldn’t have been mind blowing for everybody in the room, but it was, and just the way he did it, like everything about it, his demeanor, his body language, everything and Rob, Rob, oh God, Rob was the best. Rob, I think made it to probably 80% of the classes. And he definitely participated in all of it. And Toby was kind of a callous guy and then Rob was there to make the human connection. And I see that with all love my heart Toby, because Toby, but yeah, it was that kind of stuff.
[00:24:43] Sean Li: Yeah, but that’s it, it’s funny you say that just now, because that one story, how I interpret it is that he was trying to humanize entrepreneurship, right? Yeah. And yes, in Silicon Valley and the Bay Area and the modern tech world and hockey stick growth and whatnot. So we tend to forget about the human element or we’re just getting pumped with VC dollars to just keep fundraising for just the sake of fundraising or building stuff, just for the sake of building things without thinking, well, what’s the human impact really? And that’s kind of why we are where we are today, right? With social media, Facebook and hot water, because people stop thinking about what is the societal impact of what we’re doing and why we’re doing it too. Right? We’re doing it to yes. Provide for our families, but we’re also building businesses, especially small business owners to, to build community, to provide jobs, a lot of things. And just beyond selling a widget or making sure that you have gourmet chefs in your offices, I’m glad you shared that, again, I never took their class. I had never heard that story before. And I was so curious what that was about?
[00:26:00] Kelly Deutermann: I don’t know what the bidding is like for that class anymore. It was insane and best 951 points I ever spent.
[00:26:13] Sean Li: That’s so funny. So, I could talk to you forever, but kind of wrap things up a little bit. Can you tell us a little bit about what you do now?
[00:26:21] Kelly Deutermann: Sure. This year I am at the office of management and budget, which is within the executive office of the president as a programming examiner within the veteran’s affairs and defense health branch. So OMB is a pretty small agency and it is kind of the, trying to think of like how to describe it. It’s kind of like the federal government, if you will, because what the team is charged with is ensuring presidential priorities are reflected in both the federal budget and then any, and all federal legislation that comes out and also the performance of the federal government and taking measurement of how the agencies are performing in terms of the stated goals, efficiencies, et cetera. And it’s been a really eye opening experience here. I’ve only been, I’ve been there for four months now, and I’m not on a one year detail and I will go back to the coast guard after this.
But yeah, so when I left Haas, I was what we call the operations for appropriations management. So basically what that means is the one-year operating budget for the coast guard was about $8 billion. And that was my account making sure that we lived within the bounds of congressional law as we spent those $8 billion on our operations on an annual basis. So we had, I was there for three years. So there were three different cycles of appropriations in addition to supplemental money, like based on hurricanes, like when we had some like 2017 hurricane season was really bad. So we got a bunch of extra money. So then we had to bring those funds in, distribute them and then execute them again in accordance with congressional law and intent. So in doing that, I then was sent for another master’s program in national security and resource strategy through the National Defense University here in DC. And then coming out of that is how I ended up at Edelman and B this year. So I will be finished at OMB this coming summer. And then I will go back into, I will rejoin the coast guard in some form or capacity. I just don’t know what that looks like quite yet. I won’t know until the spring where I’m headed.
[00:28:36] Sean Li: I think that’s why I misspoke at the beginning. And I was a little bit confused about your involvement with the coast guard. So are you still considered on active duty?
[00:28:46] Kelly Deutermann: Yep. My paycheck is paid for by the coast guard. So when I left the coast guard job, the last CoStar job where I was managing the operation, the operational budget, I went to a DOD school. I was sponsored to go there by the coast guard. And so I did that. And then the coast guard has both junior and senior officers positions in various places throughout the federal government and they’re called special assignments. And we have some folks at the state department, we have a number, we have a bunch of people kind of at the Pentagon. We have them sitting on the national security council. We have them congressional fellowships on the hill. So if you get more senior, you have the opportunity to go do some of these other things. And the way the coast guard looks at it is these opportunities give in your offers the opportunity to have a broader perspective on how the federal government works and how the coast guard fits within the broader federal government. So you have that perspective when you come back to the coast guard, which the idea is that it makes you a more informed and more well rounded officer and leader.
[00:29:53] Sean Li: That makes sense. My final and I feel like the most important question is, do you still get to fly helicopters?
[00:30:00] Kelly Deutermann: That is a potential for the future. So I haven’t flown in a few years because I’ve been off doing things like Haas, but I do hope to go back, I’m flying at some point. It just, at this point, to be honest, it’s a big balance between what works for my family. And then what worked for me as a professional in the coast guard. So, you know, life doesn’t get simpler as you get older and you have a family and you have a partner who’s got a career of his own, his or her own. And you have to find balance with that. And so I’m doing the best I can to find that balance.
[00:30:34] Sean Li: Do you get a recreational license?
[00:30:36] Kelly Deutermann: Oh, I can. Yeah, actually. So, yes, I do. I have commercial licenses, both on the fixed-wing and the helicopter side and actually through my husband’s job, I was able to fly up a private helicopter, not too long ago. It was pretty fun, but yeah, I can definitely keep flying for as long as I want to.
[00:30:57] Sean Li: I just want to make sure you can still enjoy that skill.
[00:31:01] Kelly Deutermann: For sure, for sure. But the decision I do face is like, do I go back to aviation or not? And the coast guard has identified me as a high performer by the assignments that they’ve given the fact that they sent me to senior service school really early, which is technically or I’d say typically looked at as kind of like you’ve punched your ticket to making the next rank making captain. Like they look at you, it doesn’t mean you’re going to make it. It just means they look at you as being somebody who they would want to make a captain and be leading the organization at some level, be it operational or a staff type level. And then they send me to OB, which is another job for high-performers. Because they want to make sure that their best is represented when they send them outside of the coast guard.
But at the same time, they’re saying I’m not competitive for aviation pre command positions, which means going to be like the, you need to get one of those positions before you can actually command in their station. And the only reason I’m not competitive is because I wasn’t willing to put every single aviation unit that was available for me to go to last year on my assignment list. And what that does is prioritizes people who are just willing to go anywhere. You know, the choices that you have to make at the particular junctures in your career. Can you change? Can I change anything now? No. Might there be an avenue to change it in the future? Sure. But do I have to make the best decisions for me now? Yeah. And I just have to do that with eyes wide open, you know, and I can’t blame the organization. I just have to recognize like, it is what it is and we are where we are. You got to live with those choices and I’m okay. I’m okay with the choices I’ve made so far.
[00:32:48] Sean Li: Love it. We hope to have you back again to hear more about how things progressed in your career, but for now, thanks for coming on the podcast.