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NEWS | Jan. 9, 2024

NSWCPD Discusses Initiative Accomplishments and the Road Forward During Inaugural Bridge Summit

By Corporate Communications NSWCPD

Naval Surface Warfare Center, Philadelphia Division (NSWCPD) held the command’s inaugural Bridge Summit for an in-person audience on Nov. 29, 2023.

The summit worked to facilitate further command-wide understanding of NSWCPD’s cross-department communication strategy and the Bridge’s Rudder Team that is implementing the plan.

“The Rudder and Bridge concept is really about creating an environment that will improve our culture and the trust and respect between us as a collective team and between employees and management,” NSWCPD Technical Director Nigel C. Thijs, SES, said to kick off the summit.

“Many times we look to management and leadership to solve all of our problems, but the important piece here is that all of you present are part of the solution … I really believe that this will bear a lot of good fruit, not just from what I’ve seen from Department 40 (Propulsion, Power and Auxiliary Machinery Systems), but from across the command,” Thijs continued, focusing on the importance of the Rudder and Bridge teams for command-wide cohesiveness and the positive changes he has already seen within NSWCPD.

The Propulsion, Power, and Auxiliary Machinery Systems Department’s Employee Advisory Council, consisting of 16 voluntary members from across the command, started The Bridge in June 2022 with a stated goal of simply improving life at NSWCPD through multiple avenues.

The Rudder Team’s first task was to implement the Bridge. They are an 11-member committee representing each of the command’s departments that was launched by Thijs in March 2023 to influence and improve culture across the command.

The overall group’s mission statement was outlined in the summit’s brief as a “cross-department steering committee that is dedicated to improving the climate and culture of the organization. A positive and inclusive workplace culture is essential to attract and retain top talent, foster innovation, and support the mission. Our mission is to foster a collaborative and inclusive work environment that empowers employees, builds strong community relationships, and support the long-term growth and success of our organization. To achieve this we will focus on organizational communication, leadership development, and philanthropy.”

NSWCPD Financial Analyst and Propulsion, Power and Auxiliary Machinery Systems Department Employee Advisory Council member Nunzie Cupo first made sure to credit the Department Head Karen Dunlevy-Miller for her efforts heading the council and then spotlighted some ways the group has worked to improve morale across the command.

“It’s all about trust and respect. Karen built our trust up … We are transparent and we use common sense in our meetings,” Cupo said. “We made sure what we talked about at our meetings was brought back to all divisions.”

Cupo then pinpointed some of the council’s efforts in improving morale by providing quality lunch options and pushing things that created team-building opportunities.

“One of the things we said builds morale is good food, so we instituted the food trucks …We also did a bagel sale, a chili cook-off, and we organized a Thanksgiving football game. We had everyone at a Phillies game as well, which was really successful,” Cupo said.

Clear communication and allowing for honest feedback are always a key part of any initiative, and NSWCPD Mechanical Engineer and fellow Propulsion, Power, and Auxiliary Machinery Systems Department Employee Advisory Council member Philip Stolfi spoke about how the team accomplished that.

“One of the things we needed was a way to get feedback from employees and it has done great so far. We get feedback by talking directly with our teams. I bring it up at our branch meetings all the time. I send out emails after all of our meetings just to say ‘Hey, what do we need to do? What do we need to address? Are there any questions that you have for leadership?’” Stolfi said before discussing other options for employee input.

“ … Some people still do not like their feedback tied back to them … One of the things we set up is an anonymous feedback loop on Microsoft Forms … One of the nice tools is you can just take the name out on forms so feedback stays anonymous,” he added.

Though the Propulsion, Power, and Auxiliary Machinery Systems Department may have been the first involved with The Bridge, every department at NSWCPD contributed with own their voluntary team.

Some of the efforts that were also highlighted during the summit were the Comptroller Department’s Online Content Form and Bridge Newsletter, the Contracts Department and Corporate Operations Department’s aid with cross-division communication, and the Machinery Integration Test Facility Directorate’s Employee Advisory Council’s discussions about ways to further morale through awards, incentives, and more social events.

NSWCPD employs approximately 2,800 civilian engineers, scientists, technicians, and support personnel. The NSWCPD team does the research and development, test and evaluation, acquisition support, and in-service and logistics engineering for the non-nuclear machinery, ship machinery systems, and related equipment and material for Navy surface ships and submarines. NSWCPD is also the lead organization providing cybersecurity for all ship systems.