NEW CUMBERLAND, Pa. –
The theme of National Women’s History Month is honoring the past, securing the future. In honor of this national celebration of trailblazing women, Defense Logistics Agency Distribution is highlighting the accomplishments of women senior leaders during the month of March. Following is an interview with the Commander of DLA Distribution Korea, Army Lt. Col. Corinne McClellan:
How long have you been in your current position? What other leadership positions have you been in? I took command on July 10, 2020 – approximately eight months. I’ve been fortunate enough to utilize my leadership capabilities at every rank since I was commissioned in 2001. My first major leadership role was platoon leader during Operation Iraqi Freedom in 2003. Our mission was the delivery of bulk fuel to our customers throughout Iraq. As a captain, my second position of authority from 2007-2009, was company commander in support of Operations Iraqi Freedom and Enduring Freedom. At that time, I was responsible for activating my truck company and deploying with them to Iraq. Several months later we deployed to Afghanistan and were tasked with the delivery of cargo and supplies. As a major, I commanded a detachment that was rapidly deployable and conducted port and airfield assessments in support of humanitarian relief efforts. My last two major leadership assignments were as the DLA liaison officer in the Kingdom of Jordan and currently the battalion commander of DLA Distribution Korea.
What is your leadership style? My management philosophy has been shaped by influences formed as a military brat. My expectations and those of my staff are established at the onset. I have learned to value giving clear and decisive guidance and genuinely believe in encouraging personal development. I abhor micromanagement, whether giving or receiving. Often, especially in DLA, your teams are knowledgeable, well-seasoned professionals who are goal and mission focused. I additionally have the added benefit of being immersed daily in the Korean Culture, traditions and history. I use this special connection to shape my management style and adapt it to those employees who I feel honored and privileged to lead.
What do you consider the most challenging aspect of your position as a leader of your organization? I have a highly skilled workforce who support the warfighter and are constantly poised to meet all their professional needs. My biggest challenge is ensuring that my safety programs and initiatives are innovative, current and appropriate for our mission. There’s a coordinated effort in my warehouse to ensure that various types of heavy equipment are moving in sync and safely under the seasoned eyes of my leads and supervisors. The Korean Peninsula is unique because of the sheer volume of unit rotations. This requires us to maintain a continual cycle of customer engagements, to ensure we seamlessly transition material through the warehouse and get it to the right customer, in the right quantity precisely when they need it. We are committed and obligated to providing support in coordination with the current requirements of U.S. Force Korea, all service customers, and key stakeholders on the Korea Peninsula.
What has prepared you for a position of leadership? Honestly, I was fortunate enough to join organizations with a strong supporting cast of awesome junior and senior enlisted, other officers and civilians. These individuals were altruistic enough to coach, teach and mentor me during my various assignments. I was also able to leverage humility, empathy, patience, and the timely guidance from awe inspiring parents who have more than 80 years of combined civil and federal service. They are known for offering solicited and unsolicited guidance and advice whenever required or requested. But they are always on point. My father is a retired finance officer who served 20 years in the Army. My mother retired after serving as the director of a Soldier and Family Assistance Center. For nine years, she and her staff offered services and resources for wounded ill and injured soldiers.
Who has mentored you along the way? The professionals who I mentioned above, my parents and my incredibly, fierce insanely successful sisters. My eldest sister who has excelled for decades as the director of Blueprint organization in North Carolina that networks with more than 41 nonprofit, non-partisan organizations to address, action and overcome issues of racial lines, equity, and social justice in North Carolina. She’s now a noted philanthropist who efforts continue to support to advance rights of disenfranchised, and marginalized communities. My youngest sister is an Army combat veteran who excelled as an engineer, and finance officer, Engineer for Neutrogena, and is now pursuing her medical career. You can’t pay for that type of professional and personal mentorship (smile).
What advice would you give to other women working to rise in the ranks? The Military has the difficult mission of addressing the recently publicized issues of sexism, racism, extremism and an ongoing pandemic. As women and leaders, it is our responsibility and duty to coach, train, and mentor the members of our workforce who depend on us for honesty, transparency, dignity, respect, appropriate education and decisive action when those issues arise.
Do you have anything more to share about your position as a leader, or anything specific about Women’s History Month in general? I just wanted to add that I am humbled to stand on the shoulders of my ancestors who paved the way with their pursuit of excellence, sacrifice, perseverance, strength, and refusal to accept mediocrity and failure. I am extremely proud to be among those unrecognized and unsung hordes of women who may or may not have ever served a day in the military, but shattered ceilings, and blazed trails with or without credit in their own right.