NAME: Lauren Hansen-Armendariz
NSIN AFFILIATION: UNUM
AFFILIATION: Deputy Division Innovation Officer, 101st Airborne Division
Q: What inspired you to explore the national security community? Do you have a connection to the Military/Government Service?
I am an Active Duty Military Intelligence Officer in the Army and I currently serve as the Deputy Division Innovation Officer for the 101st Airborne Division. My passion for connecting people and ideas to creatively solve problems inspired me to explore the national security innovation community. The most inspiring aspect of the community is the opportunity to empower Soldiers to experiment and learn so they can discover what they need to win the future fight.
Q: As a woman, how is the national security community different for you?
I’d like to take the opportunity to flip this question. How am I different for the national security community as a woman? As a social minority in national security, I have different lived experiences from the majority of leaders in a room. This is an opportunity to strengthen decision-making through diversity of perspectives and ideas. I may see or consider things that others do not because of my different experiences. It is my responsibility to contribute my perspective, not in spite of the fact that it may be unpopular, but because it may be unpopular. Diversity of perspectives and thought is critical to ensure decisions are based on comprehensive evidence – not reinforced by group think.
Q: What legacy do you want to leave for the next generation of women professionals in the innovation ecosystem?
The legacy I would like to leave for all next generation professionals in the innovation ecosystem is one of collaboration and creative confidence. I would love for any successes that I’ve contributed to, to be recognized as results of bold experimentation, iterative failure and learning, and bringing together unlike ideas, people, and organizations under a common vision.
Q: Do you remember a moment when you saw a difference for women in the professional world? What do you remember? How did it impact your work?
I was a Cadet when the decision was made to allow women into combat arms positions. Knowing I had a choice and knowing that Army-level leadership recognized that women could perform the same duties gave me a better sense of confidence and professional autonomy.
Q: What books, podcasts, or thought leaders do you recommend when it comes to Women’s History Month and understanding the issues facing women in the workplace?
I highly recommend the book “Rebel Ideas” by Matthew Syed to explore the value of diversity of thought. If you understand how to empower and leverage diverse thinking, you’ll understand much more about how to empower women in national security and why it matters.