Story by Petty Officer 3rd Class Michael Clark
Dusti Blood is more than an intriguing name.
As both a Coast Guard reserve officer and business professional, Dusti Blood is a woman who is respected and admired for propelling progressive change, challenging the status quo and inspiring others to do the same.
A strong work ethic garnered Blood significant praise as the Puget Sound Business Journal recognized her with the 2019 Women of Influence award.
Hundreds of individuals from across the greater Seattle region were considered for this accolade, but only a select few were honored as, “women within the business community who have the authority and power to move the needle in their business, are respected for accomplishments within their industries, give back to the community, and are sought out as respected advisors and mentors within their field of influence.”
Blood’s professional achievement, her inherent desire to serve others and her ability to inspire progress have proven evident throughout her field of influence.
Even though the information systems industry is predominantly occupied my males, Blood has not been deterred from achieving her professional goals.
“Industry research shows there is a glaring lack of women,” Blood said in an interview with PSBJ. “So, while working full-time, completing a second master’s degree, I also pursued the industry’s top certifications to help increase my knowledge, credibility and experience to be more well-rounded and respected as a technical leader.”
Blood was also pregnant with her third child while completing her second master’s degree – a challenge Blood would not recommend.
Having obtained the highest levels of technical skill and proving her hunger for achievement, Blood now works as a technical operations manager at Amazon Web Services within the incident management department.
“I lead a team that helps keep AWS cloud computing running, responding, building tools to detect incidents and reduce impact duration,” Blood said.
Blood exemplifies professional achievement for women climbing the ranks in the information systems industry.
“It’s my job as a leader to mentor others or facilitate mentorship in my organization,” she said in the PSBJ interview.
“I would like to see women become better advocates for themselves and their female colleagues. We need to educate ourselves on the best tactics to result in a mutually beneficial negotiation and get compensated for the true value we bring,” Blood said.
Blood’s positive influence on others is clear within the Coast Guard as well. Lt. Cmdr. Paige Maliff of Coast Guard Port Security Unit 313 in Everett, Washington, considered Blood to be “a great role model for future female leaders in the Coast Guard. She is extremely knowledgeable, very hard-working. She epitomizes the Coast Guard core values and she is very humble and does not seek recognition.”
Maliff, a supervisor of Blood’s, commented on the gender disparity within the service and the positive impact a leader such as Blood can have on the success and retention of female members.
“In the Coast Guard, women have always been a minority. I think females come into the service and see Lt. Blood and how she has worked her way through the ranks. She serves as an example of how they can also have a career in the service.” Maliff explained. “It is important that women are represented in all paygrades. Blood has encouraged members to become officers.”
It’s easy to draw parallels between her military service career and her career in the private sector.
“My two roles are inherently similar and complement each other very well,” Blood said. “Honor, respect and devotion to duty… I try to embody these in all my efforts, inside and outside of the service.”
Blood continued, “While working at AWS, I manage major incidents. It is critical that we work efficiently and with the customer at the forefront of our actions. My Coast Guard experience contributes to my ability to handle pressure in dynamic situations and prioritize activities,” Blood noted.
Blood began as an active duty enlisted member serving on both the East and West coasts and overseas in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom. Only after years of personal growth and professional development did she ultimately gain acceptance to officer candidate school.
“In 2005, when I first pursued a Coast Guard career, I wanted to be an officer. I met all the requirements and thought I was ready,” Blood recalled. “Looking back, I lacked the confidence, and that was obvious. I dedicated myself to learning the Coast Guard from the enlisted side and re-applied in 2014. I spent 10 years building knowledge, which would naturally result in the confidence necessary to lead.”
Coast Guard Commandant Adm. Karl Schultz made it clear to the Coast Guard workforce that inclusion and diversity are essential to creating and maintaining a ready, relevant and responsive Coast Guard.
“Inclusion put us on a course to mission success, and ultimately helped us maintain our standing as the world’s best Coast Guard”, said Schultz during his 2019 State of the Coast Guard Address. “We must allow members of our workforce, all of our members, to fully contribute their talents with today’s increasing demand for Coast Guard services.”
Shultz emphasized the importance of recruiting and retaining a workforce reflective of the nation we serve.
In alignment with higher leadership’s vision for our service, Blood has made a profound impact on the Coast Guard and business world alike. She has proven that self-empowerment, organizational support and inclusiveness can help build a better Coast Guard and a better America.