News: Army Lt. Col. shares secrets to her success
Story by Sgt. Valerie Lopez
FORT BLISS, Texas - “The vision lets you know why you’re doing what you’re doing.”
“You have to start with a vision”, says Lt. Col Karen M Wrancher, 1st Armored Division’s Headquarters and Headquarters Battalion Commander. “The vision lets you know why you’re doing what you’re doing.”
Though both parents are from Jamaica, Wrancher was born and raised in Queens, N.Y.
Wrancher graduated from Brooklyn Technical High School, attended Hunter College then enlisted into the Army as a legal specialist in the 82nd Airborne Division.
“I joined the Army because I wanted to leave New York. I saw a maroon beret and thought it was cool. A recruiter said that I would have to run and jump out of air planes; I said I want to do that.”
Wrancher moved up in the enlisted ranks as a non-commissioned officer leading soldiers. She then wanted to take the next step, the next challenge, she decided to become an officer.
“My childhood was very strict: we had curfews, chores and homework that had to be done before extracurricular activities,” said Wrancher. “For my parents, my mom in particular, everything had to be done quickly and with excellence.”
“[That home training] build character and discipline,” said Wrancher. “My parents taught me how to be a good leader, but the army accentuated and polished that.”
Wrancher’s current step in leadership is her new position of 1AD HHBn. commander.
As a battalion commander, one has to command a large group of soldiers consisting of three or more companies.
Wrancher will command the companies supporting the 1AD headquarters.
This is an excellent opportunity, said Wrancher. “As the commanders of the Headquarters and Headquarters Battalion, it is my job to support the commanding general’s staff, the staff takes care of the general, and the general gives the division direction.”
Wrancher said, she has three top priorities as the 1AD HHBn. commander:
1. Support and develop soldiers - that may be as simple as a smile or answering questions and providing direction for training. “My 1st responsibility is to build the bench of next generation of leaders - to find the next sergeant major, commander or warrant officer.”
2. Support the CG and deputy CG with excellence, execution and performance. “Making sure we improve the command by: scheduling proper training, resourcing training, solving issues, or [creating] mitigation strategies.”
3. Prepare troops for war and take care of soldiers and families while we do it. “In garrison or while at home we need leaders, but with battle focus training the staff can focus on their mission as the eyes and ears for the CG. We must practice and train realistically here so if and when we are in war or a natural disaster we are ready.”
To succeed in her career, Wrancher made sure she was well versed in her field with knowledge and information. Wrancher constantly tried to get to the next level, she remembered where she came from and the lessons she learned from her mentors.
A vision is the what,= and the why of one’s direction, said Wrancher.
“Your worst day might be doing push-ups in the rain, or loss of a child, or going through divorce. A vision will lead and motivate you in your worst days.”
To obtain the vision start with goals, big and small, said Wrancher.
Don’t just say “I want to be an officer” do ask which route to take, what is the standard, what is the paper work, “how often I am going to work on this goal.”
Wrancher said, “those targets, short term goals, once completed will take you to go to the next level. Short term goals are the little nuggets to keep you motivated.”
“Remember everything comes with a cost, you don’t just become the next sergeant major or commander, said Wrancher. You have to submit to the mission, the goal, the objectives… there are no short cuts, you have to do the work [to reach that target].”