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Mina Ademovic (’15): Promoting Security Cooperation

Mina Ademovic in Ottowa
Mina Ademovic (’15) in front of the Parliament of Canada in Ottawa during a work trip in 2020

“I think IWP is really the ideal institution for supporting the development of our nation’s future leaders and decision-makers. It has made a huge impact on my career.”
-Mina Ademovic (’15)

After graduating from IWP, Mina Ademovic (’15) began a career in Foreign Military Sales, in which she assists her military and government clients with selling defense articles and services to our allies. In this work, Mina has enabled security cooperation that enhances U.S. national security and the security of friendly nations around the world.

A first-generation American who originally planned to enter the medical field, Mina Ademovic first became intrigued by international affairs when she did a study abroad at the University of Aberdeen in Scotland during her undergraduate studies at Washington & Jefferson College. “They had unique courses there, which included national security and intelligence,” said Mina.

There, she found herself debating the role of the U.S. in the international arena with students from around the globe. “I was quick to stand up and defend the U.S. in these debates,” remembered Mina. “I always enjoyed learning about international affairs, and the national security aspect appealed to me because of my admiration of our country and desire to protect the U.S.”

Studying at IWP

With this newfound interest, Mina realized that she would need to be in D.C. if she wanted to pursue a career in international affairs. She began looking at graduate programs and attended a lecture at IWP with Prof. Gene Poteat, a former CIA Scientific Intelligence Officer, on the Cuban Missile Crisis, which she found fascinating.

She spoke with Prof. Poteat after the event and felt like the school would be a good fit. The small class sizes and practitioner faculty appealed to her. She enrolled in IWP’s Master of Arts program in Statecraft and National Security Affairs.

IWP taught me how theories fit into practice.

Mina soon secured a position at the Embassy of Gabon as the executive assistant to the Ambassador. She took IWP classes by night, and by day, she helped with research for the Ambassador, served as his liaison with U.S. government agencies, and drafted diplomatic correspondence for him. “It was a great complement to my studies at IWP,” she said.

Meanwhile, Mina was gaining an education that would be helpful in her career. She said, “In my undergraduate studies, I learned the importance of critical thinking and theory. IWP taught me how theories fit into practice. It taught me to be an ethical leader with unwavering integrity. My courses and interactions with students and professors expanded my worldview and my knowledge and appreciation of different perspectives. It provided me with the skill set to tackle challenges through multiple lenses and become a leader with situational awareness.”

Mina Ademovic in front of a lake in Thun, Switzerland
Mina on an official work trip to Thun, Switzerland in 2019

Embarking on a career in foreign military sales

Upon graduation, Mina took a position as an analyst supporting the Undersecretary of Defense for Acquisition, Technology and Logistics (AT&L) Office of Administration. At the time, there was a contingent of IWP students working in that office, and several of Mina’s colleagues were from IWP.

There, Mina gained her first introduction to the world of DoD acquisitions, which led her to the field of Foreign Military Sales. “For me, Foreign Military Sales seemed like the perfect intersect between international relations and national security,” said Mina. “It fit my interests.”

She took her first Foreign Military Sales position with a contractor in Virginia and endured a significant daily commute to gain experience in her newly chosen field. Mina has no regrets about this challenging year. She later took on positions at contractors closer to home and found herself supporting the Coast Guard, Air Force, and Space Force.

In these roles, she helped develop government-to-government international agreements and assisted with the negotiations surrounding the agreements. She participated in strategic dialogues with national senior defense leadership, foreign government allies, and leading U.S. defense industry members. “It was an incredible experience,” she said.

In her role with the Coast Guard, Mina supported the program management of the first Excess Defense Article transfer to Ukraine in 2018 – two 110’ cutters. She also supported transfers to Costa Rica. Both programs had real-world impacts.

Most recently, Mina took on her first fully corporate position in July 2022 as the Director of Foreign Military Sales with AM General. “The transition from being a government support contractor to a corporate role has been eye-opening and a new challenge,” she said.

Mina Ademovic supporting the Coast Guard
Mina Ademovic supporting the Coast Guard in 2018

Reflections on work and education

Of her work in general, Mina says, “Foreign Military Sales is unique because it’s not just something that can be seen from a sales and business development perspective. It’s really a tool of U.S. foreign policy.”

As such, Mina has found that her IWP education helped her gain an appreciation for all the different moving parts that go into Foreign Military Sales: “I gained an understanding of security cooperation, international relations, export control, military intelligence, and more.”

Although she cannot disclose many details of her work, Mina is able to wake up every day knowing that her work is making a real difference. She said, “In high school, I developed a deep sense of community when supporting Reach Out and Read, a program that advocates literacy and integrates reading into pediatric practices, at Lurie Children’s Hospital in Chicago. I feel like my work in helping protect our nation is my way of helping take care of all the communities in our country. I have been able to continue this deep sense of supporting our community in my national security work. It’s fulfilling to see a real impact in my day-to-day work.”

It’s fulfilling to see a real impact in my day-to-day work.

In the future, Mina hopes to help improve the partnership between industry and government. “The U.S. defense industry and the U.S. government are the ultimate partners in national security, but we can work more closely together on the same goals,” she said. “The well-rounded education that I received at IWP has helped me to navigate the relationship between government and industry and to bridge  gaps of understanding that can occur between the two, especially in security cooperation.”

Additionally, in the future, Mina hopes to be involved in reforming and streamlining the process surrounding Foreign Military Sales so that our nation can better leverage Foreign Military Sales as a tool of statecraft in an increasingly evolving and dynamic world, and allow industry to support international cooperation more easily.

To students considering IWP for their graduate experience, Mina says: “IWP is the best choice you can make for a hands-on and practical approach to your studies. If that is what you are looking for in a graduate experience, you won’t regret studying at IWP and being a member of our community.”

Mina at IWP Commencement
Mina at Commencement in 2015

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