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Women in Leadership share their work/life balance philosophies

Graphic has multiple personal pictures and a group picture along with quotes about work-life philosophy from each commander.

ROBINS AIR FORCE BASE, Ga. -- For the first time in its 80-year history, Robins Air Force Base, Georgia, has four females in command. Brig. Gen. Jennifer Hammerstedt, Warner Robins Air Logistics Complex commander, Col. Lindsay Droz, Robins Installation and 78th Air Base Wing commander, Col. Michelle Carns, 461st Air Control Wing commander, and Col. Amy Holbeck, 116th Air Control Wing commander, each shared their work-life philosophy when it comes to being a successful leader. (U.S. Air Force graphic by Tommie Horton)

ROBINS AIR FORCE BASE, Ga. --

When Col. Lindsay Droz took over command of the 78th Air Base Wing and became the installation commander at Robins Air Force Base, Georgia, June 29, 2021, history was made. For the first time in its 80-year history, four of the top commanders at Robins are female.

Leading the way alongside Droz is Brig. Gen. Jennifer Hammerstedt, Warner Robins Air Logistics Complex commander, Col. Michelle Carns, 461st Air Control Wing commander, and Col. Amy Holbeck, 116th Air Control Wing commander.

Stepping into a command with these levels of responsibility comes with challenges, but each of these women has worked to find a way to balance both professional life and personal life. 

Hammerstedt, who leads over 7,200 personnel responsible for depot maintenance, engineering support and software development on numerous weapons systems across the Department of Defense, understands that sometimes life isn't even across the board.

"I like to say it is more like work-life harmony than it is balance," Hammerstedt said. "The word 'balance' leads us to believe we need to strive to always keep things measured exactly or perfectly, and that's just not how life is! There are times when our families need more of us, and there are times when the mission needs more of us, so my approach is to try to be as resilient as possible so I can adapt to fluctuating demands and keep harmony with my priorities.

"I have learned that there are three key ingredients that help with my personal resiliency," she added. "Spiritual health and connectedness to my family; rest and recovery, both mentally and physically; and, my physical fitness. My husband and I work out together five days a week, 4:30 in the morning," she added. "It is early and it's not always easy, but that has become cherished time that we spend together and keep fit along the way. That time is precious to me, and I protect it as much as I can. I find the more I commit to that daily routine, the more effective I am at leading and accomplishing our mission."

Carns, who leads the active duty Air Force element of Team JSTARS, which holds missions with the E-8C Joint Surveillance Target Attack Radar System aircraft and the Deployable Air Traffic Control and Landing System, keeps a positive attitude when viewing the balance in her life.

"My philosophy is that work-life balance is achieved through the choices you make with your time," she said. "Those choices indicate your priorities - each day is a new opportunity to make a positive choice that contributes to a healthy balance of work and life."

Holbeck, who leads the Georgia Air National Guard side of Team JSTARS, stressed the importance of keeping a balance between work and life.

"My philosophy for achieving a work-life balance is to be intentional," she said. "Maintaining the proper work-life balance is critical to operating at an already high stress pace in an already high tempo environment. I am faced daily with decisions that demand my full attention both at home and at work; therefore, I must decide daily when and where to focus my attention without upsetting that balance.

"An imbalance is not an option if continued success is a goal," Holbeck continued. "An imbalance affects both parts equally, work and life, and causes additional stress above that which is normal for operating at this level of leadership. My spouse is the key to helping me maintain the proper balance. He does way more than his fair share at the 'life' pieces, which allows me more time to focus on the 'work' pieces."

Droz, who is responsible for the support of more than 23,000 personnel at Robins and the installation's 54 mission partners, actively manages her focus to help maintain that balance.

"I know what is important to me, and I know that there are no absolutes when it comes to balancing mission, family, personal resilience, etc.," she said. "I ensure that when I have family time, I try to completely focus on my family - to be present in the moment - and the same goes with mission and personal time.

"Balance is something that you need to actively manage and be transparent about with the people in your life -- family, work team, etc.," Droz concluded.