Story by French Army Captain Eloïse Rossi
VILLAGGIO ITALIA, Kosovo – Italian Army Warrant Officer Sara Sapienza is setting up the room at Villaggio Italia, Kosovo for the next video teleconference. With her assistant, she checks the microphone, the screens…She’s ready to connect her audience in Peja to the Kosovo Force headquarters in Pristina.
Arriving to Kosovo a few months ago, Sapienza serves as a signal platoon leader for KFOR’s Multinational Battle Group-West in Peja. From the Alpine Transmission Regiment, Sapienza has always been a volunteer for each of her missions. She joined the Army at the age of 21, and she is deployed for the third time in Kosovo.
Sapienza cited the wonderful professional opportunity that being in Kosovo offers, and she noted that it’s important to confront another reality in order to evolve professionally and personally.
"In 2007 and 2009, I was deployed as a peacekeeper, and my mission was to secure a monastery, said Sapienza. "Today, the mission has changed a lot. We are fewer. It is a rewarding mission. But I am abroad; I am platoon leader in operation.”
A good leader must be exemplary
A platoon leader for three years, Sapienza currently leads 33 Soldiers. Far from the cliché of the Italian mamma, she is very demanding towards herself but also towards her team.
"I am engaged in the Army because I have always been a fighter,” said Sapienza. "I have always loved the game, the challenges and the competition. It is necessary to be strong to achieve its objectives”.
According to her team, this young Sicilian is an example of determination. Her troops say Sapienza knows how to motivate people in the most difficult situations, and that she’s an engine for her Soldiers.
"For me, a good leader must be exemplary and firm,” said Sapienza. "But if you are respectful to your subordinates, they will be in return with you. You have to estimate people's worth to get the best out of them”.
Sapienza is a thin and small female, but what she lacks in physical size, she makes up with a great strength of character. She admits ‘that women are more sensitive than men, but they always succeed to obtain what they want.’
"Men are physically stronger, but our strength is mental. Personal investment and willingness make us accomplish great things. My Soldiers appreciate me, even if I am sometimes pretty rigid,” said the Sicilian Soldier.
Don’t let the softness of Sapienza’s eyes and her timid voice deceive from her strong will.
"I'm between the carrot and the stick; I know how to make myself respected. I love to command,” said Sapienza.
Sapienza doesn’t want to stay in the crowd. She wants to stand out. She is ambitious. Having a master's degree in Law, she reads a lot, practices physical training and perseveres. Her future plans include a desire to become an officer.
Sapienza is a strong advocate for professional parity. Sapienza, who leads 30 male and three female troops, is persuaded that men and women also create a holistic workplace environment. Where the quality of one is missing, the quality of the other fills the gap. She insists: "male or female Soldiers, we are all useful”.
Her family and her boyfriend are fully supportive and proud of her accomplishments. Sapienza admits to having made sacrifices in her career. She had tough choices. But her tenacity has always paid off.
"I attempted the noncommissioned officer contest three times before I passed it,” said Sapienza. "The limits are sometimes mental. They must be tested. You have to know how to recover yourself. This is what I want to share”.