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Turning challenges into opportunities

Williamson named 2015 Superintendent of the Year


By Liane Nakahara, PSNS & IMF Public Affairs


There is a 25-year tradition of recognizing a Shipyard superintendent who exhibits the meaning of leadership and works to promote harmony and goodwill among employees. That tradition continues to live on with the selection of the newest Superintendent of the Year.

The PSNS & IMF chapter of the National Association of Superintendents of U.S. Naval Shore Establishments recently selected Shops 56 and 57 Trade Superintendent Chris Williamson as the 2015 Superintendent of the Year.

“I really was caught off guard as I was not expecting this at all,” said Williamson, who received his award Jan. 7. “I am very honored to receive this recognition and proud to be the superintendent of the Pipefitter and Insulator Trades. The work our people perform is amazing, and I am very proud of all they do.” 

Calendar year 2015 proved to be quite challenging for Williamson with numerous staffing concerns. Knowing very well what it was like to do more work with fewer people, Williamson focused his effort on trying to find the right balance of hiring, continuing training and development of his people while providing adequate staffing for projects.

“In order to ensure strong Pipe and Insulation Shops tomorrow, Chris is growing and fostering today’s shops through his personal investment in the people and in our product lines and product families,” said Mark Heistand, deputy nuclear production manager and NAS chapter president.

Williamson said, “Our Pipe and Insulator Shops have grown substantially in numbers and they have had some significant challenges with the increase in work load. Our people have completed some great work during this time.”

Williamson, who would prefer not being in any limelight, is also known among the other Shipyard superintendents as being one who regularly reflects on his actions and his performance as a manager. He continues to stress the importance of continual workforce development at all levels, including himself.

“I have always tried to be open, honest and supportive of our employees,” said Williamson. “I do feel it is my job to create an environment where all our employees feel safe and valued so they can be successful. I also like to have fun and try to keep my energy level high. I have always had a desire to help all our employees improve themselves and improve our Command overall.”

Williamson began his Shipyard career while in high school as a GS-1 industrial trainee in a work study program. He was then hired by Shop 11 into the Apprentice Program in 1984. Though he hadn’t always aspired to be a superintendent, his knowledge of the waterfront and drive for continuous improvement helped him climb the ladder to leadership.

Williamson has taken advantage of opportunities to travel and work onvarious projects, including getting involved in efforts to improve the Command and help employees.

One such opportunity he is particularly proud of involves supporting the tool room prior to becoming the pipefitter and insulator trades superintendent. He was able to work with the tool room, job readiness cell and the unions to develop Point of Use, which aimed to improve waterfront work efficiency by having the necessary tools delivered to the mechanics at their worksite or placed in staging areas around the waterfront for easy access. For their efforts, Naval Sea Systems Command recognized the tool room, Bremerton Metal Trades Council and others for redesigning the way the Shipyard put tools in the hands of mechanics.

He credits his parents, who worked for Peninsula School District, for being good role models for him from a young age. “Their work ethic and the way they took care of the people they worked with was something I have always been proud of them for, and something I’ve always wanted to emulate,” Williamson said.

Of course, those aren’t the only people who have inspired him. He said he has also learned from everyone he has worked with here in the Shipyard and gets inspiration to continue growing as a leader from those around him.

“Everyone I’ve worked with has taught me something,” said Williamson. “I am inspired by our brand new employees that are just now beginning their careers and I have also had a number of leaders throughout my career I was very fortunate to work with. I admire our employees who demonstrate high standards of professionalism and demonstrate a dedicated work ethic.”

Williamson said that this award is certainly one of the highlights of his career, but knows there is a lot more work to do and there’s always room for improvement.

“Chris worked through a host of items knowing a leader is never done resolving problems, yet always working to turn such problems into opportunities for improvement,” said Heistand.

One thing Williamson cannot stress enough is the importance of recognizing employees for their hard work, supporting their growth, and cultivating future Shipyard leaders.

“Our Command has a lot of opportunities for improvements and the need for leadership in many areas,” said Williamson. “I believe things can always be improved upon, and if we’re not leading in those areas then we are falling behind. Don’t be afraid to take on new challenges and seek out those things that will help move our Command forward. And, always take time to thank the employees of our Command for what they do. Support them, challenge them, and help them to become great.If our employees are doing great things, our Command will do great things.”


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