Kate had the great pleasure recently of interviewing two candidates for public office on the local level.
The experiences that they bring to public service differ greatly. One is a decorated Marine officer who has led servicemen and women from all branches through three combat deployments. The other is a 30-year-old graphic designer who first ran for office because she didn't see people in her age group represented in government.
Yet, both have the same passion for leading with integrity and serving unselfishly.
In this episode, Kate talks with Chris Banweg, who is continuing his service to the country as a member of the United States Marine Corps Reserves.
Chris talks about why he serves, how he defines good leadership (integrity is an important part of that), the importance of voting, and getting through hard times.
For more information about Chris, visit https://www.citizens4banweg.com/.
This is At Home Radio, a welcoming space for conversations about purpose, insight and leadership.
I'm your host Kate Jones, and today I'm talking with Chris Banweg, a decorated Marine officer who has led servicemen and women from all branches through three combat deployments.
Chris, it's good to have you on the show!
When did you join the military? And, most important, why?
I was in Naval ROTC, which includes the Marine Option throughout college, and commissioned into the Marine Corps in May 2000.
Why? My service is really to pay it forward. "My grandparents fled Yugoslavia to Austria after my grandfather escaped a communist prison camp following WWII. They started their family in Austria as refugees, and after my father was born, they sought asylum as refugees in the United States." "Many Marines I've met have escaped oppression in other countries and serve because they know what the United States did for them, and they believe deeply in fighting against oppression and for those values."
How long were you in active duty? And what parts of the world have you seen?
My first 4.5 years were active duty, and I've been activated for multiple deployments and extended service periods. In military service, I've seen a lot of the Middle East and southwest Asia, places like Iraq, Afghanistan, Israel, Kyrgyzstan. On the business side of life, I've spent time in Europe and parts of Asia.
All have been great experiences learning about how to get things done for a common purpose despite our differences
You continue your service to our country as a member of the United States Marine Corps Reserves. Why did you decide to do that?
Well, I've learned that not only our nation, but our community needs people to serve, and fortunately, my passion for service doesn't stop. I've said before that I love this country and what it has represented to the world at large. In the years I've lived here in Hudson, I've also developed a deep appreciation for this community. There is a famous quote in the Marine Corps that sums it up. "If not me, then who?" We all have to be a part of service in some way to keep the nation free and prosperous.
For over 20 years, you balanced military service and a prolific corporate career. What was your corporate career?
I have spent decades in the business world managing resources effectively to grow businesses and deliver results.
My career hasn't followed a particularly set path, more of a theme of being challenged and learning new things. I have sought out challenging roles to make an impact on the organization and develop myself. After active duty in the Marine Corps, I held various roles at a global bank, including leading operations and process improvements. An opportunity arose to lead a Fortune 150 company in global HR process improvement, which brought me to Ohio ten years ago. Again, over time, I have transitioned to other roles within the organization, always interested to address new challenges in the business world. My latest challenges have been in the areas of major project management and global transformations. I have been involved in both of these areas heavily throughout my career. My military and civilian careers have benefited from this combination of experience between the military and corporate worlds.
As a Marine and a businessman, what have you learned?
I've learned what it means to both lead and serve. And I've experienced some thorough testing in challenging and complex environments.
Leadership is refined by testing, both in success and failure, if you're willing to learn.
I’ve also learned that
Integrity can't be bought and then lost it's hard to get back so don't compromise it…ever
That People are more important than things
That Quality is better than quantity
And that Competence can't be built overnight
Bloom where you're planted…God has plans sometimes you don't understand, but he put you there for a reason
And how are you applying that knowledge and experience now?
Well, some new and challenging roles in both my business and military careers and right now engaging the opportunity to run for City Council in the Ohio city where I live with my family.
What traits do you think are important for someone in elected office?
· A motivation to lead, honestly based in service to the community because it provides the right mindset for the work ahead
· Most important in our current climate, I believe a civil approach, professional skills and experience and mature leadership can really make a difference.
· This is all supported by the ability to be collaborative in solutions, because we all live here together. Recognize and value the thoughts and opinions of others.
· I've worked with people of many tribes and nations, races, religions and political priorities for the good of the community. My work in Civil Affairs has included rebuilding communities and fostering relationships between different people groups in other countries. I leverage my ability to unify groups with different interests towards a common goal – the good of the community and the people who live there. Finally, when it comes to a city government, it also helps to have project management and infrastructure experience.
I liked your blog on your website about getting through hard times. Would you talk about that?
Hard times awaken people to what we've taken for granted. Hard times challenge us to take stock of our priorities and once again put the most valuable things on top. Hard times shake us, and if we persevere and learn from them, they remake us better.
There’s a great quote from Alexis De Tocqueville that reads,
"The greatness of America lies not in being more enlightened than any other nation, but rather in her ability to repair her faults."
A common thread when good times go wrong is that people are comfortable enough to think someone else will take care of the problems or do the hard work that is needed. I believe in the power of our democratic process and its ability to engage our free thinking people to learn and rise through challenges.
As Thomas Jefferson said,
"The price of freedom is eternal vigilance."
We all own a part of maintaining governance in a nation governed by the people.
You ended by encouraging everyone to vote. Can we ever say that enough?
We really can't. Our communities are healthier when we have more informed citizens engaged in the process.
Research, critical thinking, and voting improve awareness, leading to more transparency and accountability in government at all levels.
It sounds like a wearying thing to be ever vigilant, but it is gratifying to be part of a community shouldering the burden. Get involved where you can to be a part of our path forward. While much of my service has been overseas, I have become well aware of our needs here at home over this last year, and I am here to shoulder the burden with you.
Anything else you'd like to add?
It's an honor to serve nationally and be a part of our local election process. In the election process, I understand that I won't be supported by all residents, but you can know that if elected, I will represent all residents like a leader should.
If you want to know more, check out www.citizens4banweg.com.
Chris, thanks for being on the show today.
This is Kate Jones, with At Home Radio. Until next time, thanks for joining us.
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