Veteran’s Perspective

Career Evolution: Adapt and Overcome

By Lisa “La Coronela” Carrington Firmin, CEO/Founder of Carrington Firmin LLC

Now that I am fully ensconced in my third career and have a head start onto my fourth, I can reflect on what it took to get here and offer some advice. I have been able to master the continued evolution of my profession across a variety of industries. I took my skill set and adapted and evolved over time. I learned new skills and organizational cultures. All this allowed me to be successful in the military, higher education, as a writer and entrepreneur.

I honed my military leadership skills in both peacetime and in combat, led small, medium, and large organizations. Upon retirement, I begin working in higher education. I am the founder of the University of Texas at San Antonio’s (UTSA) Veteran and Military Affairs department and the founder of the UTSA Top Scholar program.

Before leaving higher education, I started my own business, Carrington Firmin LLC, providing writing, speaking, and consulting services in the areas of Leadership, Diversity/Inclusion, Veteran Culture, Transitions, and Military Sexual Trauma. I was sort of testing the waters prior to delving in full time. So, I was prepared when my first book, Stories from the Front: Pain, Betrayal, and Resilience on the MST Battlefield came out last year to leverage my business and move it forward. My second book, Latina Warrior, a collection of poems, prose and art is projected for a November release.

Now embarking on what I call my fourth career, a partnership between my company and my publisher, Blue Ear Books. We are collaborating on a Veterans’ Books Initiative to assist veterans in writing and publishing their stories. I serve as co-editor and want to help bridge the civilian-military divide by sharing military experiences, especially those from underrepresented groups.

How was I able to innovate and stay relevant? My relentless drive and ganas are just some of my superpowers. However, I offer the following tips to assist.

Get Out of Your Comfort Zone: Run, don’t walk away from it! This is much easier said than done, but I persevered and did the hard work to explore who I was and what I wanted out of life. Ultimately this was the key to finding my authentic self, allowing me the focus and strength of purpose to use my platform to drive transformational change.

Fine Tune Your Leadership: Embrace what you learned in the military. Do not undervalue that, from being technically skilled, overcoming adversity, being a team player to just being punctual. These soft skills act as force multipliers for emotional intelligence and are vital to organizations.

Never Stop Learning: One must be a lifelong learner to achieve success. I earned certifications in diversity/inclusion and a personality assessment. Ask for help. I sought various organizations that assist veterans in starting businesses and spoke with authors, poets, and entrepreneurs. They responded and wanted me to be successful. I want you to be successful, and our country needs you to be.

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Lisa “La Coronela” Carrington Firmin is CEO/Founder of Carrington Firmin LLC, an author, poet, combat veteran and Bronze Star recipient. She serves on The Defense Advisory Committee on Diversity and Inclusion (DACODAI), the VA’s Advisory Committee on Minority Veterans (ACMV), the Hispanic Veterans Leadership Alliance (HVLA) and the Texas A&M University-Kingsville Foundation Board of Trustees.