One Week In . . .

Foreign Service Life
February 10, 2019

Hello everyone – Greetings from frigid Mumbai (overnight lows of 70 F). It’s no Minnesota snowstorm but we’re staying warm with extra layers. The Indians just can’t get over how cold it is. I am enjoying the reprieve (although I will admit to bringing along a sweater in the evening lately). Strange times.

Was a big week for this lady. After one month of waiting for our government to reopen, I was finally allowed to start my new job!!! Here’s my first day of work selfie. :)

Can you believe it’s been over a decade since I worked worked full-time in an office? Crazy. I am not thrilled about being back in an office building for 9 hours a day, but the components of the job excite me and I think that will make it worth it. I am also just a few minutes walk from home, so I can take a break for lunch or a workout or just run home if I forget something. That definitely helps.

Other perks: I have an office with a door! No windows, but still – very exciting! I’m redecorating next week because the layout is not welcoming and I am all about a welcoming office environment. Also, I got assigned an Iphone as part of the job, which feels like a big deal. And did I mention that I work just around the corner from my husband?? I see him a heck of a lot more now, which is so fun. And we can have lunch dates!

My official title is EPAP General Services Officer. It’s part of a recently created program called EPAP (Expanded Professional Associates Program) aimed at providing more meaty work for spouses. The workload and expectation are greater than other typical Embassy/Consulate roles, as the job description is the equivalent of an entry level officer job.┬áIt also requires very specific job-related experience and/or a specific degree in the relevant area. My MBA qualified me, as did my time at Target working in logistics, shipping and contract negotiation. Who’d have thought I’d draw on that again? Kinda cool, huh?

I work in the Management section of the Consulate, which oversees 6 specific areas: Housing/Leasing, Customs/Shipping, Motor pool, Property/Supply, Procurement and Maintenance. I have been assigned to manage our motor pool, which encompasses managing a fleet of vehicles and team of drivers. Never done anything like it before but am very eager to dig into my new business unit. I also have been assigned to manage the rollout of two new systems. One that’s related to inventory and another that’s related to checking in and out of post. My supervisors are trying to see if we can find the money to send me to the full General Services Officer training in DC for 8 weeks. I really hope we can make it happen, as I know it would greatly expand the impact I could make in this role. Nick isn’t quite so hopeful, as he finds the idea of solo parenting for 2 months quite daunting! We’ll see how it plays out…

What I’m loving so far:

  1. All the data!! Love, love, love having so much good data to work with. Nothing better than making a great spreadsheet, using it to analyze your data in a new way and then implementing some awesome new process as a result of what you learned. There’s something very satisfying about going deep into the layers of a business. I enjoyed it at Target and with my own coaching business too. Never gets old.
  2. The camaraderie. People make me happy. Extroverted me loves having people swirling around me all day. I also really enjoy the collaboration and the synergy that comes from working with other smart people. It’s intoxicating. Perhaps that will fade in time but I am riding the high now.
  3. The mental stimulation. I love the new challenge. Figuring out what to prioritize. Determining which angle to come at a problem from. Coming up with an idea no one had thought of before. It’s all fun.

My not so favorite parts:

  1. The long days. I miss my workouts and volunteering and coffee dates with friends. The 25 hour a week job I had in Malawi was so perfect because it gave me time to fit everything in. That’s not gonna happen here but as I said earlier, I am hopeful that the benefits will outweigh the losses or that I’ll figure out how to be more productive and squeeze more in a day.
  2. Being a beginner. I hate the feeling of incompetence that comes with being a beginner. Never have liked it and probably never will. It’s just so dang uncomfortable. But it’s all part of the learning curve so I will grin and bear it.
  3. Conflicts/confrontations. I blame Minnesota for this one. I just prefer when everyone gets along. Conflicts stress me out. Young Sarah did everything she could to avoid them. Middle-aged Sarah recognizes that they’re a healthy part of relationships but still dreads them. I’m going to try and have a better perspective around conflict as I head into this job. I have spent too much time in the past avoiding problems and worrying about what might play out instead of just being with what is true in that moment. Wish me luck!

So there you have it. It’s very possible that I may be furloughed on Friday if our government shuts down again. I am hoping for a resolution but the stories out of Washington haven’t been too optimistic yet. Fingers crossed that I’ll get to keep my momentum and continue going to work. The last shutdown was stressful and I’m hoping we can avoid it again. Ciao y’all! Be back again soon.






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