Meet Anna Flores, a fearless Society of Military Spouses in STEM co-founder and our Director of Operations. Anna hails from Managua, Nicaragua, and has earned a B.S. in Mechanical Engineering, an M.S. in Mechanical Engineering, and an MBA in Finance. When she’s not crushing Excel spreadsheets, Anna enjoys running, reading, and traveling.
What inspires you?
My parents and husband inspire me every day. They all inspire me to follow my dreams, be different, and do the unexpected. For example, my father is originally from a very small town in the center of Nicaragua. He graduated from high school when he was 14 and started his first job as a mailman at the Central Bank of Nicaragua. While working at the bank, he was offered a Fulbright scholarship to study abroad. Through the years he became the General Manager, the Secretary of Treasury, and Minister of Finance. My mother is also from a small town in Nicaragua and has overcome many tough, personal challenges in life. My husband also came from a small town and after attending the University of Michigan and ROTC, he became a pilot.
What is your current duty station?
My current duty station is in Shreveport, LA. What I enjoy the most about this location is the fitness community. When we first arrived in Shreveport, the fitness community welcomed us with open arms and included us in all the activities in town. They are my family here!
Who is your current employer?
What is your official job title or career field?
How does a typical day begin? What gets you out of bed in the morning?
My typical day starts at 4:30 am with a workout routine that my coach scheduled for the day. I am grateful that my husband takes care of our 6-month-old in the mornings so that I can get my workout in. After my workout, I check work emails and make breakfast for us. When my husband leaves for work, I play with our daughter and as soon as she starts her nap, I start my workday. Now that we finally have a spot at the daycare, I will drop her off and start work as soon as I get back. The one thing that gets me out of bed in the morning is to be the best version of myself every day for my daughter. I want her to know that women can also do whatever they set their minds to, and that stereotypes and societal expectations of gender roles don’t matter.
What’s the coolest thing you’re working on right now?
I am currently working on the installation of solar panels in the US. It is really cool to see how the use of solar panels is growing in the country.
What do you appreciate about your work environment?
There are 3 things I appreciate about my work environment: diversity, the opportunity for a career progression, and work/life balance.
What is one professional achievement you’re most proud of?
I am proud of completing my MBA at the Wharton School last year. It took me about 3 years to finally decide to do it and apply. Since I am currently in Shreveport, I commuted to the Wharton campus every other weekend for school (about an 8 hour commute each way). On top of that, I had to maintain my full-time job at IPS while completing the program. It was by far the most challenging professional experience and looking back, I wouldn’t have been able to accomplish it without the help of my husband.
What do you like most about your job?
What I like the most about my job are the analytics, finance calculations, and forecasts.
How do you think your experience as a military spouse has assisted you in your career?
My experience as a military spouse has made me more resilient, open to change and uncertainty, and determined to make things happen.
What challenges have you personally faced that your civilian counterparts may not have?
I’ve encountered many challenges to keep my career as a military spouse. For example, we did long-distance for about 5 years so that I could finish my master’s in engineering while working full time for GE in NY. When we PCS’ed to North Dakota, the only position I was able to find was 2 hours away from home and out in the oil fields. I was living in Williston for 2 weeks and coming back to Minot to be with my husband for a week. The winters were rough (-40 degree fahrenheit wind-chill) but I was determined to make it happen. When the oil prices went down, I got laid off and started a job in Shreveport, Louisiana while my husband was deployed. We didn’t know if he would be stationed in Louisiana, but I bit the bullet and came down without knowing what would happen. He was stationed in Shreveport one year later.
Do you find you’re more adaptable to change than your civilian counterparts?
What do you wish people knew about life in the military?
I wish people knew more about the experiences we go through to keep a career.
How can professional organizations like the Society for Military Spouses in STEM help you with your career or professional goals?
Showcasing how we’ve overcome the challenges with the military lifestyle and highlighting areas where companies can support such as flexibility for working from home and identifying skill sets for job opportunities.
What advice would you give new spouses on entering or finding success in STEM career fields?
Use your network and professional organizations! You’d be amazed at how many spouses are going through the same journey, you don’t have to do this on your own!
Do you have any go-to professional organizations, educational opportunities, and job resources that have supported your career growth?