COL (Ret.) Humberto Galarraga
First and foremost, a good leader is a person that is honest and trustworthy; they act responsibly and respectfully, and possess good communication skills. They use their experience, educational background and technical expertise to express their vision which must be in alignment with the organizational goals. A good leader will stress the importance of following that vision and help support others to participate in making it a reality. True leadership comes from having the courage of conviction, not being afraid to do what is right, and realizing that tough choices sometimes have to be made.
Those desiring a leadership role within ECBC should work hard, be dedicated to the organization and keep abreast of the organization direction, goals and vision. Additionally, I would recommend pursuing advanced education and/or courses in your field of interest to build your experience/skills to match the requirements of the organization. Leaders in ECBC must also keep in mind the critical nature of our mission and the fact that lives depend on the decisions we make. This line of work is as much a calling, as it is an occupation. Dedicating yourself to good quality work, learning every day and setting standards for professionalism, will be key in helping you reach your leadership goals.
The two biggest achievements in my career would be achieving the rank of Colonel of the United States Army and my current position at ECBC as Detection Decontamination Engineering Division Chief. Both of these career advancements showed me the value of constantly developing my skills (both technical and managerial), learning to trust and be trusted, motivating people to believe in your mission and never backing away from a challenge.
Networking is essential in your career professional development. Working in the military/government for the past 30 years, I have had the privilege to travel and meet many great leaders through my career. I try to take away lessons learned from every encounter, meeting, and interaction. Some serve as models for how I want to try and accomplish things; others serve as distinct reminders of how not to approach a situation. Most of our professional circles are fairly small. The Chemical Biological Community and even the entire DoD Community are fairly small pools of leaders. In the course of your career you will run into the same people many times in many different roles. It's best to treat everyone with respect, learn from every interaction and never burn your bridges.
Colonel (Ret.) Humberto Galarraga attended the University of Miami where he earned a Bachelor's Degree in Chemistry. COL (Ret.) Galarraga also earned an Engineering Management Professional Certificate from the University of Maryland and a Master's of Science in Environmental Chemistry from the University of Maryland in 1989 and 1993, respectively. He currently serves as Chief of Edgewood Chemical Biological Center’s (ECBC) Detection Decontamination Engineering Division.