Captain Letitia van Stralen's commitment to Navy people and approach to career management made her an ideal nominee for the Australian Defence Magazine Women in Defence Awards.

Director Navy People Career Management Agency, Canberra, Captain Letitia van Stralen, a finalist in the ADM Women in Defence Awards - Project Management category, was nominated by Commander Kelly Haywood who said Captain van Stralen’s commitment to Navy people and contemporary approach to career management made her an ideal nominee.

“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, team work 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 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.

Her passion for the 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 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.

Her advice for other women in Navy is to take the opportunities to advance on what can be an amazing career. 

“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,” she said. 

The winners will be announced on Friday.