Lisa Ware graduated from Harvard with a B.A. in Neurobiology. After school, she worked as a research assistant at the Department of Molecular Neurobiology. During this time she co-authored publications on nerve regeneration, and developed and administered new personnel training processes, reducing training time by 75%. In 1994 she decided to change career paths and went back to school to earn an MBA. She now has a rich background in training, leadership, process improvement, problem solving, project management, and managing business operations. You can reach out to Lisa through Linkedin.
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Ep.39. Lisa Ware
Lisa Ware, Will Bachman
Will Bachman 00:01
Hello, and welcome to the 92 report conversations with members of the Harvard and Radcliffe, class of 1992. I’m your host, will Bachman. And I’m here today with Lisa where Lisa, welcome to the show.
Lisa Ware 00:15
Thank you. Thank you for having me.
Will Bachman 00:16
So, Lisa, tell me about your journey since graduating from Harvard.
Lisa Ware 00:22
Okay, well, when I was in high school, my number one thing I wanted to do with my life was I wanted to publish research in science and biology, specifically, probably bringing in behavior type stuff. And I really didn’t know what that meant, but I wanted to do it. So study biology. And then when I left Harvard, I went to Mass General. And I worked into the Department of Molecular neurobiology for I think, just under a couple of years, yeah, just under two years, and published three papers, which are still being cited, I’m still getting stuff from ResearchGate, that people are using it. So that’s really nice. And then, when and we get
Will Bachman 01:11
we get, we can keep going. So you did three papers. Tell us? What was your What was your most cited paper that you did when you were you know, 23? Or 24? What did you work on?
Lisa Ware 01:22
I worked well, it was they were they were all three very related. And they actually all are well cited. It’s and it’s basically has to do with 108 180 base pairs of DNA called the vasoactive intestinal peptide gene. And essentially, it’s, it was considered an on off switch for turning on gene expression. And so you know, could be helpful in herb regeneration. And it was, it was just amazing that they they let me kind of get in on that. And I think that was part of the thing. It was it was really, it was incredible stuff. And it was it was it was just so slow going. So, so when you you know, when, like, for example, the lab next door, identified the Huntington’s gene, everybody’s like, Oh, that’s fantastic. But what does that mean? Means 2025 years down the road, something is actually going to be an application for people. And so,
Will Bachman 02:26
okay, so you got your, your childhood dream of being published on topic, and then what happened? I blacked out. And under two years, yeah. And I know that you do not have a PhD in biology or genetics, and you have not pursued that. So what happened that kind of changed your mind to not, you know, keep keep doing that for your career.
Lisa Ware 02:49
The great thing was that I loved what I did, and I loved my boss. And, you know, it was it was a really great experience. But I realized, I didn’t love it. And in order to do something like that, you really do have to love it, you have to be the kind of person that when they opened the apartments next door to the lab, these people would move on, because they’re like, what if in the middle of the night, I think of something, and I want to work on it, and that was not me. And so I did something that I’ve done many times since, which is, what is it that I really want, and sat back and looked at what I had done and what I’d been successful at, and there were 13 signs along the way. Right? So they had a DNA synthesizer in the lab, and it was older, and it kept breaking down. And so I immediately did this, you know, cost benefit analysis, you know, should we buy a new one? Or should we just purchase and you know, based on our and I just naturally did that? We had issues with getting our supplies on time for the lab. So I took over, oh, let’s redo the inventory. Let’s talk to the people and build some relationships, figure out how this could work. Do you see where this going? Man, maybe I should, maybe I should go into business. And then the other thing behind that was what is the shortest school, but the biggest payoff? So it beat out law school by a year right? And so excited, go get an MBA.
Will Bachman 04:13
Okay, so you got your MBA, and then what happened next?
Lisa Ware 04:19
So the MBA, I really didn’t have any business experience. So I kind of just had to, to just do the schooling and try to hold it all in my head and apply it when I got out. And I was fortunate to land at Wegmans food markets. And I was there for about four years maybe. And so I started out in market research because that was kind of a nice bridge, right doing behavioral stuff and then going into market research. And then that kind of parlayed into I realized that there are product development wasn’t It’s very scientific. So I paired up with this lady who had joined them for quality assurance. And we started revamping things and introducing sensory analysis and other types of things for product development, and consumer testing and that sort of thing. And kind of ran with that. And that we dealt felt this program called tasting for excellence. And then I decided to switch gears again and became a supply chain manager for a perishable supply chain. And worked for a phenomenal boss, who a lot of these people had been in, you know, they came from the Rochester area, they had lived there all their lives, they had been in this type of business. So this, this boss, and the transportation distribution group had been together for a long time. And so this POS was so cool. And they trusted him so much that he said, Okay, now everybody’s switch. You did you know, this part now going to do this part. And so they would have to learn from each other. And it was also very welcoming for somebody new because everybody was figuring new stuff out. So it was a really good time to get in on that.
Will Bachman 06:10
And yeah, for listeners who aren’t in kind of the Northeast, Wegmans is this awesome grocery chain. It’s my favorite. You know, it’s kind of like a real person’s whole foods, where it’s awesome. Like just really, really well-organized stores, great food, good prepared foods. And what so you’re doing, tell us, you said consumer research, what is something that you still remember something that you tested in terms of product development that you’re proud of? That was like a cool thing.
Lisa Ware 06:45
A cool thing I’m trying to remember. Honestly, what I remember most is that I was working with the bakery, and they were doing a cherry chocolate bread. And so I got to try a lot of it. And it was good. And it was bad, right. But yeah, as far as this particular product, there was one there was one testing. Okay, that stuck out that they did they were adding omega threes to the eggs, right? It wasn’t mid 90s. And they wanted to test without telling people, does it taste fishy to you? Because they’re putting in this visual. And, you know, it didn’t people didn’t pick up on it. And so, you know, it was a it’s a good product. They I mean, they Wegmans did this into all kinds of things. I mean, they had their own, you know, chickens and that kind of stuff. I mean, they they kind of branch out into things and get really deep and then kind of figure out what’s the best way for them to be involved. And, and it’s a really neat company. And and I was I was a shareholder, before I was 30 years old there. And it was really neat. But of course, once I left, I had to give that up.
Will Bachman 07:56
So you spent time at Wegmans. Awesome. So you learn the grocery industry. And then what next? I think you went to McKinsey.
Lisa Ware 08:02
I went to McKinsey. Yes. So again, I was at Wegmans for a while. And then I was I loved where I was that my boss was great. But they said it was going to take you about two years to learn the supply chain position. And after about six months, I was like, time to do something new. So I did one of those I think what color’s your parachute exercises, and decided that I wanted to work with information and I wanted to kind of help organize things and just kind of learned where my strengths were and and then just serendipitously, a friend of mine from business school called and said, Hey, would you like to interview at McKinsey, we have some research analyst positions open. Let’s not sure why not. Let’s try it. So I ended up just jumping over to being a research analyst for post merger management at McKinsey.
Will Bachman 08:55
Okay. And what does that mean being a research analyst,
Lisa Ware 08:59
essentially, McKinsey, the structure, you have your your consultants who are client facing, and then you have this whole other organization underneath it, which is the ones who keep sort of the McKinsey knowledge base and also have maybe different functional. I was in sort of sort of the finance arena for post merger, but it was also a kind of organization because they say m&a is like the wedding planner. And then post merger management is like the post marriage counseling. Yeah, it’s like, now that you’re together, what are you going to do? And so for research, you just you kind of keep that keep the library of stuff going and you know, there’s constantly new stuff being formed. And then you’re also just answering random questions like so these two have emerged, and it turns out this one has a supply of rare gemstones and how do we exactly handle that? Yeah, and it’s interesting stuff like that. And it was it was very, I basically moved from that into knowledge management. And that was at a point of time when they were investing really heavily in knowledge management. And we used to joke that it before they had the systems in place, if you were good at memory game as a kid, you know, the flipping of the cards, and you have to match them, then you’d be really good at this job. Because I have had a boss, who is I think he’s selected Professor Emeritus at Harvard Business School. And he was, he was great, but he’d be like, you know, that one slide. And that one deck was saying, and I would know what he meant. And so it worked very well. And I had, I had an incredible mentor who helped me move from research analysts to by the end of the time that I was there in 2006, I believe it was, I was practice manager for organization practice, or going to the organization practice for the Americas to North and South America. And the organization practice at that point touched about a third of Mackenzie’s work. So it was a lot of a lot of work and a lot of fun.
Will Bachman 11:07
So what would the knowledge manager do? Was that the purse? I mean, like a, we had some document on this at some point, and then you’re responsible for going and finding it what tell us a little bit about what the system was that you used other than just remembering it? And
Lisa Ware 11:26
and that was it, the McKinsey was making inroads into developing some systems for capturing knowledge objects. And so you would, some of it was just uploading stuff that you knew and categorizing it, and getting the right keywords on it, so that you could find it. So it was a lot of library type stuff, but it was also working with people as they develop things. And, and saying, Well, you know, this is really great, but you know, there’s already something like this, or, you know, maybe we can take it in a little different direction. And then that’d be a great knowledge object that we can really use, because I know a lot of people need it, because it’s also knowing what everybody was asking for. And as an as a knowledge person. And McKinsey are connected to all the different functional areas, all the different geographical areas, all the different industries, especially in post merger, because it touches everything, and so does organization.
Will Bachman 12:17
So you would be seeing people, oh, I need to create this, you know, set of slides on some topic, and you would be Oh, we actually, we already have something that’s 90% like that, and then you’d pull it out? Send it to them.
Lisa Ware 12:32
Yeah, yeah. Or you just sit down and talk about it. And they kind of outlined what they were going to try to say and yeah, and you’d be able to pull them up, or they would kind of know of one that’s you know, there was this guy that did this project, and I know that we’ve already done this, and they know, you know, but you’d have to kind of, you’d have to find it, or you’d have to have something developed that was new or, and sometimes there was there was some funny stuff where they’d say, uh, well, you know, let’s go in and intimidate people with binders, right, you know, here’s all our binders. Here’s all the stuff that we do. And they’d go in with all this. This was before everything was digitized. So it was like I was in the midst middle of that transition to, and then developing a website so that you could you could pull down, you know, whatever you needed it on your own sometimes, you know, or if you couldn’t find it, then obviously, you know, just for more help. But so is building a website. And then also some push stuff, right? Here’s some, here’s some new knowledge. Here’s some stuff that’s happening here, some things that are being written in. And it would also work with people who were trying to write from McKinsey Quarterly, or books, we would help with the development of bigger projects or bigger diagnostics that were in the works. Because we were kind of in the no one knew where everything was,
Will Bachman 13:44
within the world of org. What were some of the two or three of the most popular, most requested knowledge objects?
Lisa Ware 13:53
Oh, my goodness. I think, well, by the time I was leaving, a lot of it was the performance and health that was the, you know, how do we how do we get the client to acknowledge that that’s one of the things that they need to look at, you know, an assessment of where they’re at before they can solve the problem? Because of course, the whole thing with consulting, as you well know, is, you know, do I have the right question first of all, that I’m trying to answer and then going from there, but sometimes it’s you know, well what what what is the context in which I’m answering this question, where are there things that they’re going to be able to, to actually know about themselves? That we used to joke about the the merger stuff as is it was the two things it was knowing me owning you like that ever song. And so it’s, you know, part of it was a big part of it was the assessments that of the performance of the health of the current company so that you knew what your capabilities were before you tried to take an action.
Will Bachman 14:58
Okay. All right, so fast forward. So you ended up leaving McKinsey. And where do you go next?
Lisa Ware 15:04
Well, that was that was, that was love. I, I met my husband, and he was a he was a military officer. And he was being for free. We met in DC. So we met in a ballroom dance class. And then let’s see. So then we moved to Kansas, was the first thing, and I was still was able to continue to work. And then we had to move to Hawaii. And McKinsey doesn’t have any offices in Hawaii, nor is there really anything in that particular time zone that was gonna kind of work out. And miracle of miracles, I got pregnant, and I just, I had been told that that was never gonna happen for me. And so I said, Well, that’s it, well, we’ll go and we’ll raise a kid and why and see what happens next, and I will become part of the very Family and immediately, you realize that as an officer’s wife, although now it’s not sort of mandatory, or, you know, impacts his career, if you say, No, you’re you have a role, you have a role as they they have the chain of command, and then you’re in the chain of concern, as it were, and you help all of the spouses in your unit, at or beyond, in understanding what it means to be a military spouse and a military family and readiness, readiness is huge. I mean, if you’re out there as a soldier, and you’re going into combat, don’t want to be worried about the fact that maybe your family isn’t being able to pay the bills, or your your wife isn’t being taken care of. Or if something happens, you know, that there’s there’s no network. So you want to know that everything’s ready.
Will Bachman 16:54
Now, that’s a big deal in the military. And I had never heard that term chain of concern. That’s so interesting. I mean, I was in the Navy for five years. And, you know, all the minimum, I was in the Submarine Force of all the spouses, you know, we’re women, right? It’s all the Navy wives. I mean, now it’s be, you know, men and women. Yeah, but, but then. So like the captain’s wife, that was like a big deal, like a big job, right? Being the captain’s wife, you know, because all the wives of the sailors and so forth, your, you know, they would, you know, communicate stuff, if the ship was coming in early or whatever, help someone if their family was, you know, going through some issue that wives would get together. So tell me about your role it was your husband, like the CEO, or if some unit or something. So, yeah,
Lisa Ware 17:42
yeah, when we went to Hawaii, I, that was the first time I had been to what they call a family readiness meeting or a Family Readiness Group. And I got to do just that it was part of it. But it was it was more like this was more stuff like they had Fisher houses at NY and so those are where, if you have a somebody who’s injured or ill, in the military, and then maybe their family needs to come and stay with them, that sort of thing. So, you know, we would go to the Fisher House once a month and do like Made to Order breakfasts, or we would do just volunteering in various ways of with the, with the unit, because at that point, he was I said he was the He then turned to being XO, and s3, and there’s, there’s a course for everything. So when we were in Kansas, I prepared by taking Army family team building one through four, and the instructor brief recourse so that I could teach them because essentially, they’re really good at like, anything they’re gonna expect you to do. They have a course for it. They have financial readiness for first term soldiers. And so initially, I did sort of that volunteer stuff at Fisher House and just kind of general stuff, then he deployed and he was gone for a year. So the the Family Readiness Group helped take care of me and my and my kid who was 18 months when when he left. And then when we landed in our next duty station in Rock Island. I decided to do this they had like a fellowship it was I can’t now remember the name of it, but essentially, it became an accredited financial counselor. Well, so that I could help teach the mostly the spouses, but sometimes do some family counseling on financial because again, if your finances are in order, you know how well you’re going to focus on what you’re doing. So it was a lot of working with people teaching basic courses to soldiers, first term soldiers when they come in, I mean, you know, they’ve got a steady paycheck and they’re a target for predatory lending and for a lot of things, and so you teach them stuff that maybe they’re not Gotta learn in high school or wherever they’ve been before. And you teach them about, you know, buying car insurance, and, you know, just anything you can think of financially and get them the basics. So I taught those courses, and I met with people who maybe maybe they lived in Texas, right, and they’re used to having a big house and a big area, and then maybe even have horses or something, and then you move to Virginia, well, you know, they’re gonna have to make a lot of adjustments. So that sort of thing. What
Will Bachman 20:31
is one thing that surprised you at the time when you were teaching that financial literacy of some area that the soldiers or their spouses either did know and surprise you that they did know? Or just did not know? And you’re like, wow, they don’t? That’s surprising. They, they didn’t pick that up?
Lisa Ware 20:53
Um, it really varied. I mean, there were some folks who, if you if you’re, if you are in the military, whatever rank you’re at, anybody can look at what your salary is, right? Sure. But some of the spouses didn’t know that they didn’t know what, what their spouse made. Or maybe they’re being kept in the dark sometimes, or maybe the spouse would leave and be deployed, but not leave them a checkbook and say, well, I’ll handle things for you. But of course, you know, that doesn’t, it doesn’t always work. So stuff like that might happen. And others were, were all over it. I mean, just, you know, and we’re helping each other. And we’re asking questions more about, you know, how am I investing with my thrift savings plan? And, and so it was it ran the gamut? It really. But yeah, I mean, there were some folks who just didn’t, I mean, you have people from all walks of life and all experiences. And so, you know, there’s, I mean, but there was, I love the fact that there was a lot of focus. I mean, so the next thing I did when we were in North Carolina, I worked with the, it was the command financial NCO training course. And so there’s, there’s a command financial NCO for each of these units now. And so then, you know, they get them trained up. So they’re working with the soldiers and making sure because I mean, if you have a soldier that starts having big financial trouble, and that goes up the chain, and then the commander has to deal with it. So you don’t, you don’t want it to get there. You want them to know what to do. And if they start getting in trouble, handle literally
Will Bachman 22:27
an NCO, listeners of courses, noncommissioned officer, right, sorry, so
Lisa Ware 22:31
many, so many acronyms.
Will Bachman 22:34
So you so this was a course that would teach the the sergeants how to deal with financial issues of their privates, basically?
Lisa Ware 22:44
Um, yeah, yeah, something like that. There were also Yeah, and then it was also they would actually kind of do some teaching as well. And, I mean, it was everything it was, it was, you know, about about how pay works, were just, uh, there was, we had an experience that I was able to use as part of the teaching. So for example, the military started paying us too much. And we started reporting, I said, you know, something’s up here. Why, why are we getting this? So they would then start, they would take some back, but then they would give us some more. And it was just this random pay glitch. And so over time, there was about $25,000, that they had paid us ahead, but you knew they were gonna get it back at some point. So I’m just putting it into the separate account and keeping track, you know, and eventually, we got it sorted out. But just teaching about the fact that and stuff like that can also happen. And, yeah, you need to need to track everything that comes through, because weird stuff happened.
Will Bachman 23:44
That happened to me once in the name. You don’t want to go spend that money, because eventually they will catch up and say, okay, with interest, yes. So, okay, so you’re doing all that, and then you eventually end up at West Point, right? All right, let’s go there.
Lisa Ware 24:00
Okay, so at West Point, um, so at this point, now, my daughter has finally turned 10. And I had said to myself, I wasn’t going to work full time until she was 10 years old. And so she hit 10. So Hurrah. So now, what can I do a bit out of the workforce for something here? So I kind of really wanted to do something with a library. I wanted to try that out. And the posted position for a librarian and the people that work at the library there for the cadets, and staff and faculty. Not all of them have library degrees. So I thought, This is my chance, right? So I get in there for the interview. And the boss who, again, I was blessed with phenomenal bosses pretty much all the way through. He says, Well, it’s not really a librarian, kind of little bit of librarian, but essentially it’s a facilities man. manager. And I thought, well, I don’t really want to do that, but talk to my husband. And he said, Yeah, I’ve been a facilities manager, I’ve managed facilities managers, I can, I can coach you through this. And I really wanted to work. And there was not a lot of opportunities for a civilian who’s, you know, been out of the workforce for 10 years, and everything it West Point is kind of a geographical oddity, right, everything is 45 minutes away, at least. So we really wanted to be on post. So I took it and, and it’s a seven story building, it’s open 130 103 hours a week or something like that, and maintaining it. And there’s several different entities, there’s the library itself, there’s a couple of different Institute’s there’s the Center for enhanced performance, there’s the Writing Center, there’s couple other things. So there’s a lot of different stakeholders, there’s so much maintenance, there’s, there was a fire, there was a flood, it was a very exciting couple of years.
Will Bachman 26:03
I saw that it’s ranked like the number one library. What does that How do libraries get ranked? And what in? What were they number one on?
Lisa Ware 26:17
My, I looked it up a while back. And it’s I believe it’s Princeton Review one of those things, and for College Libraries, some of it, it’s pretty much just, you know, what the what the kids report, you know, do you really like your library? That kind of thing? And is it? Is it a is it a comforting environment? Is it you know, and it’s also the people who who work there and how they help them out? And, and is it you know, well maintained, which is, you know, one of those things that I was working on? So, yeah, that’s how they get ranked. So I mean, it’s always one of those where they it’s a couple of issues. A couple questions on the the Princeton Review type of questionnaire firm. For students,
Will Bachman 26:50
I bet they rank high on like, best behaved students serve best groom to students, number one.
Lisa Ware 26:59
themselves, and how well it serves them. And I think that’s a great standard.
Will Bachman 27:04
So you also have been a professional musician, right at services. Tell us about that. That’s another sideline. Yeah. Well,
Lisa Ware 27:17
you know, I gotta keep busy. So I started playing the piano when I was five years old. So by the time I was six years old, I was playing in church. And all the way through high school, you know, I play services and whatnot. So what even in college I did play. I played the organ for Korean church, a Korean Methodist Church with they had also in like an English speaking service for for some of the college aged students. But I played for the service. The funniest part was when someone was kind of walked up to me and she’s squinting. She’s looking at me, she’s walking forward. She’s like, she comes really close. And she says, You’re not Korean. And I said, You’re right, ma’am. I am Korean. She said, Okay. Anyway, so I, I played for let’s see, I think I always played but then I’m when I was in North Carolina, I think that’s where I started. So I got hired on as paying for the services and being music director. And so it’s part of it is just playing the music. Part of it is selecting the music to go along with the lectionary. Part of it is selecting things and working maybe with some singers to teach and lead the singing. And I did that pretty much throughout. And when I got to North Carolina, how it actually happened was I was trying to, you know, I was doing all this other stuff, right with the financial readiness. And then also it was part of the I was actually a senior spouse for brigade, which is almost 5000 soldiers. So you know, it’s a little busy, but but this woman who was 80 years old, said, I really need to go get a hip replacement. I’m the organist, but I need to get my hip replaced. Can you can you stand in for me because a service ran over and she had to go on to her other job. And I raised my hand and said, I can play. So then I ended up playing also at the old Cadet chapel. I was playing and they had a phenomenal pipe organ, and that was great.
Will Bachman 29:26
Can you tell I’m, that’s amazing. I want to go back. So tell us a little bit more. What is it like being the senior spouse for a 5000 soldier brigade? What are some of the things that the senior spouse gets involved in? I mean, there’s a lot of people and a lot of, you know, arrests or family issues or deaths in the family or mean, the tell us? What’s that roll like?
Lisa Ware 29:55
Well, I was I was The okay. So basically, it’s a lot of things, it’s really nice that there’s a structure in place. And so you get people who are going to be working with you, you have some support representatives, you you get in on the meetings with the with the colonel with the oh six, the, you know the head of the of the brigade, when they have meetings about budgets. So you’re getting in on that you get on an end, you know, when sort of the calendar is for deployments and redeployments when people come back, you help schedule so that you have scheduled training, maybe for the spouses of the people who are going to deploy, so you need to talk about, you know, getting ready making sure all your documents are renovated, or you have folks within the unit. Other spouses, I had one spouse, who is still I still talk to her probably weekly, who knew all the regulations inside and out. And thank God for that. And so she was extremely helpful and in making sure that we kind of kept within the guidelines. And in doing so you would just fundraising and socials and in there were meetings with there were also, I guess, staff officers that were part of the meetings that I would hold to, so we would, you know, kind of just plan, you know, what’s coming up next? How do we need to get people ready? What information do they need? What supplies do we need? Do we need to? Do we need to raise funds? Do we need to make sure for childcare? Do we, you know, whatever. And then there’s also different things like a care team, you know, so you’re talking about if there’s a casualty or something, you have to have a group of people ready to kind of descend on that situation and do whatever is necessary to help out. And that’s very, very sensitive stuff. Obviously. If you have a man we had, there was a death and the organist that would normally play or the pianist, actually, and he wasn’t available. And so they said, Well, you can do. So I’m up there, you know, playing 30 minutes of music, while you know, they, they people cycle through and, and, you know, pay their respects. Unfortunately, I have a view to it all, you know, so I’m playing and seeing all these people that I know and paying their respects and just trying to keep it together.
Will Bachman 32:34
If there’s an issue like a soldiers, spouse, like soldiers deployed, and then the soldier spouse have some issue, and is there something that the spouses do to kind of, well, like, oh, like, take care of the kids or something? Or,
Lisa Ware 32:52
you know, absolutely, yeah, structure in place. Absolutely. I mean, there’s, there’s formal and informal, obviously. So, you know, there’s certain things that I mean, if they’re really big, you know, like, so it was it with a care team, or that sort of thing, you you make sure that you, you kind of have a plan for all of that. But there’s sometimes like, there was a, there was a woman who was she just, she was the wife of a captain who was deployed, and she was also kind of like, the, the person who was helping out all the other people of that unit, but she got a kidney stone, you know, so you go and you you, you go with him to the hospital, you make sure that they’re taking care of you make sure that, you know, as I say, I’ve stayed with her. You know, and my kids stayed with somebody else, you know, the woman that I was talking about before, actually. And so you just you make it happen. I mean, it’s just, you know, it’s like, when when my daughter was born, there wasn’t, you know, it wasn’t like a big unexpected thing. And we we know, she was coming, but my husband had to travel to Korea and Australia. So literally made a schedule, so that somebody would come at least once a day to make sure that I had eaten and slept a little bit.
Will Bachman 34:05
Well, you know, we’re recording this now, we’ll probably publish it in a few weeks, but we’re recording this right after Veterans Day, and just, you know, just doesn’t occur to me here. veterans often will get, like, thanks for your service. But that really, that thanks, also really is due to the spouses of veterans as well, because of that, you know, uncompensated labor that you put in to help the military function
Lisa Ware 34:34
is that it’s that readiness thing, and there’s that old joke about if the army wanted you to have a spouse they would issue you one. But you’re really I mean, you’re there right? And you’re and you’re part of of things and I guess there’s there’s folks who who don’t participate at all because they have they have a big career or they have, you know, other obligations or what have you, but you you’re there for everybody, you know, What your all big team because you’re all behind the mission, and you believe in the mission, and you want it to succeed, and you want everybody to make it through to the other side. So, and like I said, I’ve got a friend from each duty station who I literally talk to at least once a week.
Will Bachman 35:16
That’s awesome. Bring us up to today. Are you still in that role at facilities role at West Point, or what’s the latest with you?
Lisa Ware 35:25
So, in 2018, my husband retired from the military. So we talked about staying in New York so that I could continue to work there, he obviously could find a job there, they wanted to keep him. But we decided that it just wasn’t the best thing for us. And my my daughter needed to, they didn’t have a high school on West Point. So you go to more local high school, and that really wasn’t the right choice for her. And for my husband, he wanted to do some different things. I mean, and it was tiring. And he had been been military since he was 17 years old at that point, so and so I had to say goodbye to the job that I loved. And come to Texas, and we parked here for a bit because after that long in the military, making the transition is also a really big deal. Even if you’re exceedingly well prepared, which my husband was, and you know, and he made the transition beautifully. But when we first got here, we weren’t sure where are we going to land? Where are we going to set up camp, and parents are here in Texas. And so we literally stayed with them again, for my kid because she had to start sixth grade 10 days after we got here. And she is a trooper. And so we spent a while until my husband felt like he was settled and knew what he was going to do. And we did kind of want to stay because my parents are getting up there. They’re going to be 86 and 87. And in a couple of weeks. And they they would have literally moved wherever we were going to be but they couldn’t keep moving. So they they decided to wait until we retired and they wanted to be with their only grandchild. So so we stayed there. And we had some great times. I mean, you can’t, you can’t put a price on being able to spend that much time with family would you know and my husband wasn’t working right to so we could go for a long walk, we’d have a long breakfast with my parents, they’d watch some football. Yeah, I mean, he was, we were house hunting, and he was job hunting. But you know, we had a little bit of a break, which we needed, after all of that military stuff that really takes it out of you and you don’t realize it until you stop running, how much you need to rest. Then we had a year of we bought the house in 2019 at a year of it was a fixer upper and did a lot of fixer upper ring. And literally had a we had a water main break and then a fire in the oven started on fire and shut in January, February of 2020. And then when we got all that sorted, you know, the world locked down and got my kids through homeschooling, I mean, not homeschooling, but your online schooling. And then my dad started to ailing. Or I just really kind of need to take over their their finances, their home maintenance stuff, they’re pretty much their medical stuff. So I know a lot about Medicare and a lot about the VA. Learning a lot of stuff that will probably be very helpful for myself later on.
Will Bachman 38:38
Talk to me about your time at Harvard, are there any courses or professors that continue to resonate with you that have kind of stuck with you
Lisa Ware 38:54
the Helen vendler, combs poets and poetry I even wrote her a letter or an email actually a couple couple years ago, and thanked her because it was just sort of that that memory of or reminder to just stop and read something beautiful. And think about something beautiful. And the book from that class is the one that I’ve kept through all the moves through everything. She just really made an impression because before that I was all science all in all my family. They’re all engineers, my husband’s an engineer. And it was all very much that kind of way and then just to be really shown like what it means to to open yourself up to that kind of stuff. And the other ones, there’s so many I mean, I did a course in music theory and so I did some composition. I did an independent study and research and opioid addiction. So you can imagine that that’s been helpful in understanding stuff that’s going on in neurobiology III think the one course in biology that changed everything because I really didn’t want to do labs, but I wasn’t sure if I could. And then when we did a lot of sort of problem solving in, in biology and how do you how do you set up an experiment? How do you figure out something by testing things? And I have used that knowledge, pretty much everyday sense.
Will Bachman 40:25
What about outside of class as any kind of activities you’re involved in, you mentioned that you played music on a church services, anything else kind of stayed with you and impacted your, your path?
Lisa Ware 40:42
during that timeframe. There was I there was so much happening in my brain at that point. I my, my mother was a was a migrant worker. And my dad was from an immigrant family, and even nine kids and, you know, kind of worked his way through through school with the GI Bill. And he worked nights and you know, all that sort of stuff. So, you know, he graduated when I was seven, and I was the youngest. And, and then he ended up working the steel industry for 14 years. And you know, so they, you went to college. And so to my mom, she actually tested into a nursing program, even though she had an eighth grade education. So they did go to college, but it wasn’t like, they could necessarily help me navigate this kind of stuff. So there was a lot of, I have no idea what I’m doing. And I worked a transcription Actually, I did a lot of transcription during the whole time that I was there. I’ve worked a lot of jobs. I worked at the snack bar at North house. I did lab research stuff with tadpoles, I did. Eccleston? I do, I worked in the law library. So I just got to have like so many different experiences that kind of helped me just get exposure to things that I never would have thought I’d get exposure to, and helped me to understand that that I could if I was placed in this world, I could find my place in it.
Will Bachman 42:22
No, not a lot of Harvard students have a parent who was a migrant worker. Could you tell us a little bit more about your parents and particularly your mom?
Lisa Ware 42:35
My mom, so she started working at the age of eight. She they she was born in Texas and so it was my father but they so they she lived in some boxcars. Sometimes she lived in whatever they would give them right till to live in. So she lived in a boxcar she lived in. In an abattoir, I think she she she picked up she’s she’s my mom has never made five foot right, she was maybe 410 and three quarters at her highest. She’d carry 100 pounds X cotton. She began working as a nurse’s aide at the age of 15. And guard her mom because her mom became a citizen, gosh, when she was in her 80s. So they would go to work together. And they although she didn’t really speak a lot of English, she learned to work the autoclaves and that sort of thing and ended well enough that her you know, Social Security and Medicare benefits lasted through. So when she passed in 99 She was in a nursing home for a long time she had Alzheimer’s. So anyway, so just you know, really, really hard working like ridiculously hard working. And you know, she was she was driving, driving, driving at probably nine years old or so. And I also kind of raised her her sister. So yeah, they did, they traveled around, she didn’t get to start any school year on time. And then you know, finally she ended up leaving school in eighth grade, her sister did continue through high school. And it took care of her family and her her father wasn’t able to work and took care of them all the way through, you know, to when both her parents passed. So she was you know, just such a salt of the earth you know, the work hard do the right thing. So and honestly just you know, hardcore just Christian love and love and doing the right thing and that’s what she reinforced to me and she said she and she didn’t even when I went to Harvard she said Well can you can come up being a doctor and then when she realized that I couldn’t be a doctor after four years. She’s like, What do we do? Now and you and my dad seemed like he, he worked for 45 years, like I said, for the steel industry, he started out sweeping floors. And then he worked in the live. And then some people saw some stuff in him that they thought, wow, you know, this guy. If they helped him go to school, he jokes about the fact that they tricked him into going to school, they’ve signed him up for courses, and he literally was like, wait a minute, what’s happening here, I ended up going to Purdue getting an engineering degree. And, and, you know, he worked nights and work double shifts, and just, you know, so when we, when I got into school, they got a second mortgage, because we till we got the financial aid decision, because it used to be, you know, uncoupled with your decision to get in. And, you know, there said, Well, we sat down, and we worked out the numbers, and they said, well, we’ll get a second mortgage, you’re gonna have to work, and you’re gonna have to be able to contribute this much every summer. And, and we made it happen. And I’ve killed her brothers to one of the doctor and the other one’s an engineer.
Will Bachman 45:59
Wow. That is an extraordinary set of parents to to have worked like that. And raise three kids got them through college. That is incredible. What a story. Lisa, for people that wanted to follow up with you, would you Where would you point them online, either a URL or if you want to give out any contact info not required. But if you want to, like where where would you point people or old classmates who are hearing this who wanted to follow up with you? Sure.
Lisa Ware 46:36
Well, I mean, right now, probably just Facebook, LinkedIn, those two things, and then take it from there.
Will Bachman 46:43
All right. We’ll include those links in the show notes. Lisa, thank you so much for joining. This was extraordinary. You’ve had fun, quite the adventure, quite the journey and multiple careers. And I look forward to hearing kind of what your next several will be, as we meet at reunions over time. Thanks so much for joining us
Lisa Ware 47:06
today. All right. Thank you