COLUMBUS, Ohio –
Defense Logistics Agency Land and Maritime will bid farewell to retiring Office of Small Business Programs Director Anita Luich in January. Luich took time this month to share insights from her 40 years of service to the nation.
Share a little about your background, how you found your way to the Defense Logistics Agency and how long you’ve been part of the Land and Maritime team.
I began my federal career in 1981 working at the Veterans Administration as a GS-1 File clerk. Shortly thereafter, I was able to join DLA where I counted and picked stock in the warehouses here on the Defense Supply Center Columbus installation. I was able to move into the Acquisition series as a procurement clerk and later was accepted into the Intern Program. My continued professional growth expanded to include customer operations, liaison for other agencies, Land and Maritime’s Business Process directorate, People and Culture and Small Business areas.
Share some of your more memorable experiences during your Land and Maritime career.
DLA has offered me so many opportunities during my 40-year career. One memorable experience includes being a supervisor over the Business System Modernization (now Enterprise Business System) Concept Demo Team. We were the pioneers testing this new system for two years. It allowed us to be creative, think outside the box and train others as they rolled into the new system. Additionally, my overseas job assignments included three deployments and a reassignment offered me the opportunity work directly with our warfighters. Initially, I volunteered to deploy to Iraq as a DLA liaison working with six other countries in a joint force effort. My remaining two deployments were as a DLA Liaison to the Department of State at the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad. Finally, I spent almost four years working in Germany as a DLA Liaison for the Army Headquarters for Europe and Africa.
Who were some key influencers throughout your career and why?
People are responsible for me being here today…no names but simply their influence. With so much support, I attempted to absorb as much information as I could. Seek mentors, both formal and informal. Some of my mentors were ones I didn’t recognize until later. Each saw something in me, coached it out of me and provided an opportunity to improve myself. Nevertheless, mentoring has left a lasting impression and has become a part of me. The true gift in all of it was that it was given freely and with huge doses of patience.
Do you have a personal work philosophy? Did you develop it over time or was it foundational?
My work philosophy has and continues to be to not tell yourself “No.” Don’t place limitations on yourself or think you can’t do something. Volunteer to be part of working groups, councils, integrated product teams and rotations are great opportunities that allow you to gain experience making you more knowledgeable and marketable. My most rewarding experiences were the most challenging ones! I will share that I’ve learned something every day of my government career. Today I learned what bittersweet really means. I’m excited about starting this next chapter of my life; yet saddened about leaving this amazing place called DSCC. You’ve given me everything I could’ve asked for in a career, and more. I have no profound words of wisdom or advice…because you all are the experts, and the real heart and soul of this organization.
What was your most humorous moment while supporting the Land and Maritime mission?
Before Bldg. 20 was built, we worked in Bldg. 12, which was removed and is now a parking lot. During the holidays, the entire workforce would participate in enjoyable events such as a Halloween parade, huge potlucks and others. These activities helped build a positive culture and we still laugh at the fun we had, all the while still achieving mission goals.
What will you miss most, and do you have any activities planned now that you’ll be able to dictate your own time?
Needless to say, I’ll miss the people. Whether our paths have crossed just once or multiple times, you’ve all made lasting impressions on me. Early in my career, I recall telling others that I planned on being a “DLA Lifer” and some would question why I would limit myself to just one agency. At that time and still to this day, I’ve been impressed with the continued passion to support the warfighter. I have no regrets staying with DLA and know I made the right decision to stay with such a wonderful team.
Because DLA offered me the ability to work at other locations throughout the world, I’ve been able to visit 54 countries! In retirement I plan to continue my travels and increase that number! And of course, spend more time with my family!
Any words of inspiration/wisdom/advice you’d like to share with your Land and Maritime team members as you leave?
Find as many teachers as you can and teach as many as you can because organizations that share information freely are the ones that thrive. Through my years of diverse positions from picking stock in a warehouse to becoming a director, each have solidified my years of being a follower and leader. I learned from every single person and all have made a difference. All of you have formed the person I am today, and I thank each and every one of you.
While 40 years seems like a lifetime, today has come incredibly fast. As I pack up my 40 years of memories to take home, please know that a part of all of you will go with me as well. It’s been my pleasure to be part of the DLA Land and Maritime Team and I’ve been fortunate enough to have worked with the most exceptional team of people that DLA has to offer. I’m comfortable leaving, because all of you are the Land and Maritime of the present and the future and through my lens, it couldn’t be brighter
I also encourage you to take time for self and family. It’s all part of the balance that is so critical to good health and happiness. I'll be looking back over my shoulder cheering you on! May God richly bless each of you.