A passion for people

Published on Ms Harriet Pointon Mather (author), LSIS James McDougall (photographer)

Topic(s): Women in Defence Awards

Director Navy People and Career Management Agency, Captain Tish van Stralen, who received a Judge’s Special Mention in the Project Management category of the Australian Defence Magazine Women in Defence Awards 2020. (photo: LSIS James McDougall)
Director Navy People and Career Management Agency, Captain Tish van Stralen, who received a Judge’s Special Mention in the Project Management category of the Australian Defence Magazine Women in Defence Awards 2020.

Women In Defence Awards Finalist Feature Article

The next in our five-part special feature, telling the inspiring stories of the remarkable Royal Australian Navy women selected as finalists in the Australian Defence Magazine’s Women in Defence Awards 2020, which celebrate talented, determined and successful women in the Defence community.

Our next finalist is Captain Letitia ‘Tish’ van Stralen, currently serving as the Director Navy People Career Management Agency, in Canberra.

Captain van Stralen is a finalist in the Project Management category and was nominated by Commander Kelly Haywood, who said that Captain van Stralen’s commitment to Navy people and contemporary approach to career management made her an ideal nominee for the award.

“Captain van Stralen has an unwavering commitment to Navy people and always asks the question: why not?” Commander Haywood said.

Captain van Stralen was drawn to a career in the Navy as it offered the travel, teamwork and unique experiences she was seeking.

“I wanted to do something for my country and I loved the Navy from the start,” Captain van Stralen said.

“I loved going to sea and enjoyed being around like-minded people, it was an adventure and going to interesting places and meeting people around the world gave me the opportunity to learn more about people and about myself.”

Captain van Stralen has witnessed many changes to the Navy and Defence organisation over her 25-year career including the introduction of women in submarines, and Navy’s first female Principal Warfare Officers and Commanding Officers.

“I have seen a significant transition in our focus on families and drive towards more equitable standards,” Captain van Stralen said.

Captain van Stralen’s passion for the Royal Australian Navy is evident, as is her high regard for Navy’s people, the organisation’s most important asset.

“My work has focused on our people, how we can improve communications with them and how we can improve career management and therefore retention numbers,” Captain van Stralen said.

Acknowledging the importance of support networks, and professional networking, Captain van Stralen noted the importance of women having an available network of other women to reach out to.

“I think it is critical for the junior women to have mentors to help them navigate through what can be a minefield in decisions affecting their careers and their families. Equally, it is important for all of our people to have access to mentors,” Captain van Stralen said.

And Captain van Stralen’s advice to other women in Navy?

“The Navy is an amazing career, there are so many opportunities to advance,” she said.

“A career is a marathon, not a sprint; gather experiences, lean on your networks and know you are never alone.

“The women before us have been trailblazers and we carry on that work every day.”

Winners of the Women in Defence Awards 2020 will be announced on Friday 23 October. Details of the awards and winner announcements can be found at https://admwomenindefenceawards.com.au.