Joyce Wright - EPL
Facilitator, Leadership Development Dept. (O25)
would you describe your current position? It is a great
opportunity to develop leadership skills through EPL2 -- in
myself and other leaders across the company. We are all learning
and growing together. EPL2 provides a forum for senior staff.
Additionally, feedback from these sessions is a key component in
fostering process improvements.
How would you describe your leadership style?
As was told to me once by my supervisor so many years ago, “I’m
hard, but I’m fair.” I see something in a person, even when they
do not see it themselves, and I try to go after it. Bring out
the best in them and the worst. When you see the worst, you can
develop it into a positive behavior. Many of my apprentices are
first-class mechanics, foremen, planners, designers and general
foremen. They all are proud of what they do, and I am proud of
them all. I think many of us are continuing to strive to create
an environment for our employees where ownership is inspired.
What did you do before you were named to your current
position? I came here 26 years ago, so there was not
much before the shipyard. The shipyard has been with me since my
first car, first home, marriage and children. It really has been
the reason for all my success, and it is a big part of who I am.
I went to night school for two years to qualify for The
Apprentice School. I completed an X33 apprenticeship in 1984,
won the Neils Christiansen award and was promoted to first-line
supervisor 15 days after I finished my time. I was a supervisor
on the old boomers and aircraft carriers. I worked in the
administrative office with training and admin duties for a few
years as well. I had the opportunity to work as a case manger in
Worker’s Compensation as well as being promoted to
administrative supervisor. I came back to The Apprentice School
in April 1999. The Apprentice School supported my endeavors to
obtain several coating certifications which are required by our
customer. I am certified by NAVSEA to instruct many of these
Who has influenced you the most during your shipyard
career? That’s a hard one, but what comes to mind time
and time again are the people that I have worked around for the
last 26 years, from all trades, from all locations -- they are
the ones that have influenced my career. Without my 26 years of
experience with the people here at the shipyard, I could never
hope to influence the next generation of shipbuilders.
What is one of your proudest shipyard moments?
I am happy to say that in 26 years, I have had many, but the two
that stand out in my mind are seeing apprentices walk across the
stage and get their diplomas after you have worked four years to
develop them into the shipbuilders of tomorrow. The other moment
is standing on the deck of the Monitor, a replica that my
apprentices blasted and painted. It’s an unbelievable feeling to
be part of something that many generations to come will enjoy.
The same feeling we get when we finish a sub or aircraft carrier
and we see it defending our country.
How do you incorporate the company values in your
day-to-day work? I have to walk the talk every day,
especially when no one is looking because then the motivation
has to come from myself. I believe in what I do, and I want
supervisors to take the time out of their busy schedules to give
me the opportunity to provide a forum to share needed keys to
successful leadership and critical information important to the
company’s success. I want them to look forward to EPL sessions.
Together we can make a difference.
What does “ownership” mean to you? Ownership
is feeling a sense of responsibility and pride in everything I
do. This is our shipyard, and I want it to be successful now and
in the future. We need to be aware of our surroundings and
processes at all times and implement improvements and/or
corrections as needed. The things we do today, creating an
environment for ownership and engagement through personal
integrity, is what will secure our future and the future of
What are your goals for the future? I plan
to finish my master’s degree in human resources at George
Washington University and continue in that arena.
What do you like to do when you’re not working?
I have two seniors that just went off to college, so I am
looking forward to watching them play basketball and bring home
the grades. I also have a 12-year-old that plays baseball and
basketball and, I am proud to say, is on the honor roll. That,
along with my husband, who retired from here after 39 and a half
years, will keep me plenty busy. I also am one of the advisors
for the Student Body Association at The Apprentice School, a
committee chairman for the Mariner’s Club and president of the
Hampton Roads chapter of SSPC (Society of Protective Coatings).
Interviewed by Sandra Miller
(O22) of the Trades Communication Advisory Group (TCAG)