Women in Leadership: Bobbye Sweat
Dec 10, 2021 | 4 min. read
First Command’s Director of Diversity and Inclusion talks about how she’s transforming the culture of the company and how her father took on the role of both mom and dad to raise her into the woman she is today.
Why did you decide to join First Command?
During my rounds of interviews, I learned that First Command was undergoing a cultural transformation to put a focus on diversity and inclusion (D&I). Being given an opportunity to lead this transformation to influence a culture of full inclusion sounded exciting. I also enjoyed the reporting structure for the role. Leadership commitment to D&I begins with the CEO and I believe Mark Steffe and the entire Executive Leadership Team are committed to “making all heads count” to create innovative products, services and business practices that can set the company apart, and give it a competitive advantage. I’m thrilled to be on the journey with them.
What are some of the challenges you’ve found here at First Command?
One of the greatest challenges in leading D&I within most organizations is bringing everyone along with you on the journey, especially at all leadership levels. I believe the D&I strategy has to have a clear strategic alignment to the business priorities that involves our people, products, services, advisors and clients in order for it to be internalized, supported and sustained. Every opportunity to communicate the value proposition of D&I to the business will truly unleash the power of First Command.
What are you most excited about doing at First Command?
I am most excited about being one of the cultural architects for the company. By partnering with our leaders and other internal stakeholders, I am confident we will have created a culture of inclusion and innovation for our people as our business processes transform to better serve clients.
What women in your life have impacted you the most?
Gee, this is a tough one for me. My mom died when I was very young, so I was raised with my three siblings by our dad. When I think about the attributes of leadership and commitment, he could have written a book about it. He demonstrated the kind of work ethic, empathy and nurturing needed to shape me into the woman I am today. He wore many hats while shifting between thinking about what mom would decide in a situation with the girls versus what he would have done. That taught me how to think about my choices in life and the consequences of those choices. He modeled how all people should be treated with dignity and respect, regardless of their differences and I think that mindset helps me to always meet people where they are. And while he was not a woman, he filled the role as both mother and father and impacted my life more than anyone. However, I am also very thankful for the sisterhood circle of friends and work colleagues who have been on this journey of life with me throughout the years.
What brought you to this level in your career?
I’ve never been afraid of failure and I’ve never shied away from new challenges. I stretched out assignments that afforded me business growth opportunities. I also had mentors and sponsors who supported and advocated for me along the way.
Interpersonal skills are so important for a leader. What soft skills helped you get to this position?
My favorite quote is by Theodore Roosevelt who said, “People don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care.” I try to find ways to show people that I sincerely care about them and what is important in their careers. I care about people and I care about an organization’s success. Leading D&I work effectively requires open and candid conversations, listening, and collaborating across the business to ensure alignment.
Favorite Movie: The Green Mile.
Favorite Book: Oneness Embraced by Tony Evans.
Favorite Work Resource: The Society of Human Resources Management (SHRM), Harvard Business Review, Gartner, Hubbard & Hubbard Inc., Diversity Inc.
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