Member Spotlight – Eric Garcia, Camarillo, Calif.
November 6, 2018

Job title and employer: Operations Manager, Camrosa Water District; retired from the U.S. Air Force, Air Liaison Officer, after nine years active duty
Eric Garcia
Education: Bachelor of Science, Aeronautical Engineering, U.S. Air Force Academy; MBA, Texas A & M University - Commerce

What led you to military service and what did you gain from it? My desire to serve and give back to my country and community, especially post 9-11, led me to the military. I was a junior in high school in California when 9-11 happened. As a child of immigrants, I vividly remember my parents constantly being grateful for our life and opportunities as Americans. I guess 9-11 put that in jeopardy and like most Americans I was saddened and very angry. I wanted to do my part to maintain our way of life and not to live in fear from things such as terrorism.    

How did you get involved with the water industry? I went through a military recruiting firm that places veterans into different job opportunities. I am very drawn to leadership and operations and Camrosa offered me this opportunity, plus I really connected with the staff and we wanted to live in California.  
Eric Garcia in the military
How does your military background contribute to your skills and success in your current position? In the Air Force I gained an incredible sense of duty and learned very valuable leadership skills, like how to build, develop, and lead teams -- something I do in my current job every day. It also taught me how to develop the organizational processes that are needed to get effective results. Finally, it taught me how to push through complex problems with a lot of uncertainty, no obvious solutions, and very high stakes. 

What are some of your proudest accomplishments? In the military, being a Flight Commander and leading 32 airmen, as well as completing my second combat deployment to Iraq. In the water sector, seeing my team grow and develop by adopting new strategies for more effective operations and maintenance. 

What are some things that employers should value in veterans? The soft skills that the military fosters include accountability, discipline, leadership, interpersonal skills, perspective taking, adaptability and team building.

Why should veterans consider a career in the water sector? The water sector has so many facets that it really can be a home for everyone. It has very complex problems that need to be solved, and veterans are some of the most equipped people to tackle them. It is an industry that literally touches everyone, is critical to modern society, and is full of good people. I think this resonates a lot with veterans.
Eric Garcia with wife
How long have you been an AWWA member and how has it benefited you? I’ve been an AWWA member about a year and a half. It is an incredible networking mechanism and provides access to key information that improves our district.

Family and outside interests: My wife, Delmy, and I have a 2-year-old son, Dante. I also enjoy sports, especially football and boxing – I’ve boxed for about 12 years. I’m currently attending the University of Southern California to earn a master’s degree in dispute resolution and negotiation. In my job we do a lot with water rights and contract negotiations, and this degree helps me think of win-win contexts to be more successful. (Photo credit: Eric Garcia)