Home Posts tagged Dorothy Ostrowski
Veterans in Business

Her Afghanistan Tour Brought Many Lessons for Life, Business

Dorothy Ostrowski is seen here during her tour of duty in Afghanistan with Gen. Karl Eikenberry (center) and fellow military police officers (from left) Ryan Stone, Dominic Cirillo, and Jeffrey Botcher.

Dorothy Ostrowski was only 17 when she joined the Army National Guard.

She needed her parents’ consent to do so at that age, and she got it, because they knew — and, more importantly, she knew — that this was something she needed at that critical junction in her life.

“I didn’t have probably the best circle of friends at that time,” she told BusinessWest, turning back the clock more than 23 years. “I was looking to get some direction in my life.”

To say she found some through her seven years in a military police company, serving in locations ranging from Italy to Panama to Afganistan, where she became a chase driver for Gen. Karl Eikenberry, would be a huge understatement.

Indeed, she said, during that time of service, she gained invaluable lessons in teamwork, trusting those you’re working beside, being ready for essentially anything, taking nothing for granted, and taking good care of team members.

And they have served her well since, in positions ranging from emergency-room nurse to president of the company that she and her husband, Mike, purchased at the start of this year, West Springfield-based Adams & Ruxton Construction.

“There are many ways in which what you learn in the military impacts what you do in life and in business,” she noted. “There’s the teamwork dynamic, the attention to detail, and the mindset of taking care of the troops — your troops eat first. It’s about taking care of the people around you, because they’re the ones who are going to pull you through things. And that directly impacts where I am now.”

“There would be times when you were out on convoys and there would be explosions, or you’d be out on a mission … and you’re not really thinking that you might not come back at the end of the day.”

Afghanistan was essentially the final stop in a lengthy stint with the National Guard that, as noted, took Ostrowski to several other countries and working situations. She told BusinessWest that her first ambition was to be a police officer. But, as she said, she needed to bring direction to her life, and so, while still enrolled at Chicopee Comprehensive High School, she made the decision to join the Guard with the stated goal of becoming a military police officer. Boot camp was the summer after her junior year.

Looking back on her time in Afghanistan, Ostrowski said it wasn’t until that tour of duty was over and she was back in this country that she could really put those experiences into their proper perspective.

“When you’re there, you’re just doing your job,” she told BusinessWest. “There would be times when you were out on convoys and there would be explosions, or you’d be out on a mission … and you’re not really thinking that you might not come back at the end of the day.”

Her Guard unit was there to be part of the efforts to train the Afghan national army, she explained, adding that her specific role with the Military Police was to protect Gen. Eikenberry, an assignment that often put her at the wheel of the chase car that rode close behind his Chevy Suburban.

“We would ensure that no one tried to drive into him or drive him off the road,” she noted. “Our mission for those several months was to get him where he needed to go safely, whether that meant chase-driving him or accompanying him in Blackhawks or Chinooks to different villages in Afghanistan.”

When that tour of duty ended, Ostrowski enrolled at Holyoke Community College, with the goal of joining the law-enforcement field, but instead took a different career path — into healthcare. She eventually became an emergency-room nurse after gaining her degree at Springfield Technical Community College, and later, while seeking work that would allow her to spend her time with her family, joined Sound Physicians, a medical process-improvement company. Along the way, she earned a dual master’s degree in nursing and business administration at Elms College to better position herself for new opportunities and, ultimately, a leadership position.

Dorothy Ostrowski says she won’t hesitate to do anything she asks her team members to do.

She created one for herself by acquiring Adams & Ruxton, a move she categorized as part of a lifelong pattern of continually seeking out new challenges and raising the bar when it comes it comes to her career ambitions — something else she took home from her time in the military.

Today, she leads a team of 25 people and boasts a broad job description, everything from meeting with clients to coordinating the subcontractors to handling the financials. And she brings her experience in the military to the workplace seemingly every day, especially those lessons in teamwork and working as a unit to achieve a mission, whatever it may be.

To get her points across, she referenced a cartoon a friend sent her that effectively illustrates — literally and figuratively — the difference between a manager and a true leader.

“In one panel, there’s a picture of a boss sitting up on a rock with all his employees pulling him,” she recalled. “And then, in the other, there’s a picture of a leader, the one at the front of that rope helping all his people pull that big rock; that’s the kind of leader I am, and I think a lot of it comes from my time with the Guard.

“It’s about not being afraid to do anything that you ask the people you’re surrounded by to do,” she went on. “But I think it’s also about recognizing the qualities of the people around you and being humble enough to say, ‘hey, I don’t know how to do this,’ and allowing those that know how to do it to teach you to do it.”

“In the military, you rely on each other,” she said in conclusion, adding that this mindset has helped enable her to be a driving force in business, long after she was a driving force in Afghanistan.

George O’Brien can be reached at [email protected]

The Class of 2019

President and Co-owner, Adams & Ruxton Construction Co.; Age 39
Education: Springfield Technical Community College (AS),
Elms College (BS, MS, MBA)

Dorothy Ostrowski

Dorothy Ostrowski

What did you want to be when you grew up? I originally thought I wanted to be a police officer. But you only live once, so I figured I’d try being a military police officer, then a nurse, and now I own a construction company … who would’ve thought? I guess anything is possible if you put your mind to it and what you do truly makes you happy. Never settle, never have regrets.

How do you define success? Success is a smile on the faces of my husband and children.

What three words best describe you? Energetic, compassionate, loyal.

What are you passionate about? My family. Without their support, I wouldn’t be where I am today. Especially my husband, who encourages me and stands behind me 110%.

Who has been your best mentor, and why? Dorothy Jacques. She is an amazing mother to her three boys, a smart and compassionate nurse to her patients, and her will to overcome adversity and challenges is a force to be reckoned with. She may be a southern belle, but she taught me a lot above life and love.

What fictional character do you relate to most, and why? Wonder Woman, because sometimes it feels like I should have super powers. Wife, mom, president, co-owner, Little League team mom, daughter, veteran … that should cover it!

What actress would play you in a movie about your life? Lynda Carter.

What goal do you set for yourself at the start of each day? To be the best person I can be, to keep my side of the street clean, and to be a good example for my kids. And to kiss my family good morning and kiss them good night every day.

What will work colleagues say at your funeral? “She never missed an opportunity to know more or do more. She worked hard and never gave up. She supported us and encouraged us to always keep learning. She was determined to succeed.”

 

Photography by Leah Martin Photography

buy ivermectin for humans buy ivermectin online
buy generic cialis buy cialis