Valkyrie Performance

Accountability Integrity Attitude

Project Educate and Inspire: Week 4

Andrea Writt

Welcome and thank you for stopping by! This is the third iteration of our series to honor and share the stories of empowered women, fulfilling roles as leaders in their country. The mission of this project is to inspire, educate, and connect women who are currently serving or considering serving in typically male dominated professions such as military, police, or fire service. Over the next ten weeks we will share the stories of ten amazing women who have served, or are currently serving our Nation, providing unique perspectives into the inspiring realities of these women's lives.

If you would like to contribute to our project and share your story through Valkyrie Performance, please email me at


Melanie Rowland

Current: Head Of Government, Descartes Labs

Former: Lieutenant Colonel, United States Army, SOCOM

1. What do you appreciate the most about being a woman in a male dominated field?

The chance to do what you do best. Men and women often respond to situations differently and those differences can be teaching points.   

2. As a woman in a male dominated field, what challenges do you regularly face and how do you overcome those challenges?

You are always second-guessed, scrutinized, and held to age-old discriminatory standards. Sometimes you just have to put one foot in front of the other.

3. What practices do you have, to re-center yourself when you’ve had a tough conversation or someone has given you an ungrounded assessment or unsolicited advice?

Breath! Be confident even if you are not feeling that way. Pick one thing that you have done well and let that serve as a reminder.

4. What are your top 3-5 priorities in life? How do you make time for the areas you value most?

1. Kindness 2. Taking care of my family/friends 3. Teaching 4. Learning new things by challenging myself to improve 5. Fitness for the mind and body. 

5. While serving, what has been your biggest personal victory? What about the best organizational/team victory and why?

Acceptance by most of my male counterparts by being myself. As a team we were extremely capable. Missions were successful.

6. Do you feel like you have found your “life’s purpose/calling” yet, or do you still feel like you are continuing to discover and unravel what unique gift/niche you bring to the world?

Perhaps – but maybe still evolving. It probably all starts with giving back.

7. How do you combat negative self-talk, and pick yourself back up from failure? 

You have to love yourself first which is a hard thing to do.  If you cannot do that – you will be of little value to anyone else. Failure is a chance to learn and those failures/challenges remind us of humility.

8. If you could describe yourself in 3 words what would they be? If others described you in 3 words what would they be? Are they congruent with the way you think you are portraying yourself in the world?

Tough, giving, focused. Are they congruent with the way you think you are portraying yourself in the world? At times they are congruent.

9. What changes would you like to see in the next 5 years for women in male dominated environments?

Equal salary, acceptance that it’s ok to be different. Differentiation between being strong/smart and being a “bitch”.

10. What advice would give to your 19 year old self? Or to a young woman starting her journey of serving our Country?

Look in the mirror daily – see your soul. While there, don’t be afraid to admit that you need to improve and then hold yourself responsible for that improvement. Seek out a mentor who will help guide you, who will also hold you responsible and who will challenge you to be better. Most of all – celebrate your successes quietly and lift others up along the way.

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Again, if you have questions or would like to share your story with Valkyrie, please  contact me at