A Company and Military Leader
Tracey Siems retires from the Air Force after serving her country for more than 30 years.
Since World War II, State Farm® has promised the position of any employee serving in the military would be secured until their return from military duties. For 80 years, that promise has been kept.
United States Air Force Brigadier General Tracey Siems’ position at the company was secured three times during her 31-year military career. Tracey, an information security manager at State Farm, retired from the Air Force Nov. 1 after a robust career.
“I wanted to do something few people did,” Tracey said of deciding to attend the United States Air Force Academy. “I was in the ninth class to graduate women. That in itself was pretty groundbreaking.”
Tracey continued to make history through the Air Force, being only the third of three women to make the rank of brigadier general in the Financial Management and Comptroller career field. While serving as the finance officer during an operation in Germany in the 1990s, Tracey was in charge of providing monetary needs for fuel and landing fees for missions providing medical supplies and food to citizens when the Soviet Union was broken up into several smaller countries.
“We had 65 airlift missions to go into those countries taking medical supplies and food. We had to pay fuel and landing fees in cash, so I was responsible for getting paying agents on each plane and ensuring they had enough cash to pay for it. You don’t think of finance people as boots-on-the-ground people,” she remembered.
In her highest position as brigadier general, Tracey increased the amount of colonel positions underneath her position, “allowing more career paths all across the Air Force.”
Tracey has moved through State Farm, making improvements where she could as well. Hired in 1998, she had the opportunity to follow a job track to become a project manager and then a security manager. Through it all, State Farm supported her during her military obligations.
“They’ve always been great about giving me time off and State Farm has always complied with the military leave laws, even going above and beyond with that,” she said.
Tracey also helped get the Military Affinity Group (MAG) approved – an Employee Resource Group for all State Farm employees. Employee Resource Groups serve as resources for employees’ growth and development. Tracey worked to get it approved, sought an executive sponsor for support and worked with a team through the year-long process. She was president of MAG for the first two years.
“It was right after 9/11 and one of my cube mates, Tim Wheeler, and I talked about forming an affinity group to support the military,” she said. “After 9/11, we knew the Reserves were going to be busier and the group would be a way to keep the relationship between the company and the military.
“We thought it would be a good way to have understanding between requirements on both sides and help State Farm understand the skillsets military personnel can bring to the company and how State Farm can leverage them.”
Tracey said the most difficult thing the last 30 years has been balancing both careers and family time.
“My husband farms, so I tried to do duty when he wasn’t planting or harvesting. That was a juggling act,” Tracey said. “If I was on military duty, I’d do State Farm work at night and vice versa. It was a constant balancing act.”
But, she’s humbly proud of what she has accomplished.
“We do it because it’s our job and what we do. We don’t step back to think about the sacrifices we’ve made.
“This year has been a good time to pause and reflect on my career and service. It is an honor to be recognized on Veterans Day.”