EP. 16 In Conversation With Rear Admiral Maria Lore Aguayo, P.E., Commander of the US Naval Facilities Engineering Systems Command Atlantic

We are delighted for you to read and listen to this episode of Griselda Togobo in conversation with Rear Admiral Maria Lore Aguayo, P.E., the first female commander of NAVFAC Atlantic. Admiral Aguayo is making history and breaking new grounds in the USA navy.

“There are many times where there may be opportunities out there which may be challenging and may be difficult, but I guess the way I’ve seen it is – don’t take the easy path”.

These are the words of Rear Admiral Lore Aguayo when asked how she was able to break the glass ceiling to become the first female commander of NAVFAC Atlantic.

Here are some key topics discussed:

Succeeding in challenging situations by Rear Admiral Lore Aguayo

On succeeding in challenging situations, Rear Admiral Lore Aguayo said, “when you see that door open a little bit, go for it, see what you can do to get yourself in there. While it may be hard and there will be moments where you’re wondering, ‘Why am I doing this?’ I can assure you it is incredibly rewarding because it opens up a lot of opportunities for others as well”.

Having the right mindset needed to succeed

The Admiral said she had a strong calling for the Navy, knowing it was in service of her country. She advised that having a confident mindset is the most significant thing one needs to have to succeed. One needs to have enough confidence to say, ‘I can do this. I can be the one to lead that battalion, take on that different command, whatever it may be.  There are also real barriers and false barriers – it helps to know the difference.

Having the right mentors to help you succeed

The Admiral said that her mentors had faith in her and have encouraged her throughout her career. She makes time to find mentors and invests the time in developing relationships with them. She reiterated that talking to people who had been through similar experiences can be very helpful. “You have to decide where you want to go, but then you have to talk to people and tell them what you want to do.”

“You will always run into people that have different opinions. Just don’t let that stop you. Go after challenging jobs, prepare yourself with the skill set, let people know that you’re interested and why you’re interested, and why you think you’re the right person for that job and don’t give up.” 

Qualities that make one an exceptional leader

Resilience is the key to being an exceptional leader. We have good leaders and great leaders; however, outstanding leaders are resilient and continue to move forward and lead their people despite meeting challenges.


Here’s a glance at this inspiring episode…

[1:47] Rear Admiral Lore Aguayo’s inspiration to join the Navy and how she started her journey.

[3:40] The moment an all-male command was opened to women 

[7:15] The mindset she had to persevere despite facing challenging situations and difficulties

[9:38] Rear Admiral Lore Aguayo’s way of identifying the right mentors, seeking them out and how they have supported her at key points in her career.

[12:09] Rear Admiral Lore Aguayo’s leadership style

[15:19] Her views on women being assertive and how she changes her leadership styles to deal with such situations

[17:14] How she juggles the huge sense of responsibility that comes with her leadership role.

[29:30] Rear Admiral Lore Aguayo’s recommendations to women breaking barriers and training themselves to see opportunities.

[24:25] Successfully proving herself as the Navy transitioned to having women in combatant roles.

[27:35] The qualities of an exceptional leader 

[29:19] Leadership advise to her younger self.

[33:50] Rear Admiral Lore Aguayo’s daily routines 

[36:50] Rear Admiral Lore Aguayo’s book recommendation.

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About Rear Admiral Maria Lore Aguayo

Rear Admiral Maria Lore Aguayo is the Commander of the US Naval Facilities Engineering Systems Command Atlantic, which is NAVFAC. She’s the first female to oversee NAVFAC Atlantic, and she’s a US Fleet Forces Civil Engineer. She was formerly NAVFAC Chief of Staff in Washington DC.

Rear Admiral Maria Lore Aguayo has also been NAVFAC Commanding Officer in Naples, she holds an MS Civil Engineering degree from Stanford.


About Griselda  Togobo:

The Forward Ladies CEO, Griselda Togobo MPhil, ACA, is an international corporate consultant and trainer. She is also a multi-faceted entrepreneur, engineer and chartered accountant. Also, she is a commercially focused business consultant but her experience as a black woman in the corporate world drives her. She now uses her international experience to help progressive global companies create inclusive workplaces. Griselda gives keynotes, talks and workshops to businesses interested in improving the gender and racial diversity of their teams. 

Griselda is passionate about supporting female leaders through the professional women’s network wearenovi.com.

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Rear Admiral Lore Aguayo