Joyce Wright - EPL Facilitator, Leadership Development Dept. (O25)

Photo of Joyce WrightHow 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 certifications.

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 others.

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)