An official website of the United States government
Here's how you know
A .mil website belongs to an official U.S. Department of Defense organization in the United States.
A lock (lock ) or https:// means you’ve safely connected to the .mil website. Share sensitive information only on official, secure websites.

Home : Media : News : Article View
NEWS | Jan. 19, 2024

NSWCPD Women’s Leadership Panel Discusses Career Challenges, Provides Guidance

By Corporate Communications NSWCPD

The Naval Surface Warfare Center, Philadelphia Division (NSWCPD) Women’s Employee Resource Group (WERG) and African American Employee Resource Group (AAERG) co-hosted a command Women’s Leadership Panel for a hybrid audience on Nov. 29, 2023.

The panel that was moderated by Solid Waste and Hazardous Materials In-Service Engineering Branch Manager and WERG Chair Allyson Jones-Zaroff, as well as Mechanical Engineer and AAERG Secretary Taylor Barnett, included:

• Propulsion, Power, and Auxiliary Machinery Systems Department Head Karen Dunlevy-Miller
• Submarine Life Support R&D Lead Jay Smith
• Comptroller Department Head Joyce Hall
• Deputy Human Resource Director Keirston Graves
• Platforms Division Surface Ship Maintenance, Modernization and Sustainment (SEA21) Portfolio Manager Mia Korngruen

The group discussed some of the challenges they have faced over their careers and what ultimately motivated them to earn leadership positions within the command.

Hall immediately kicked off the conversation with some indispensable comments regarding critiques from supervisors or managers.

“The worst feedback you can ever get is no feedback … I’ve been in this career for 37 years and I’ve been before managers asking, ‘how am I doing?’ and they could not provide feedback. It becomes dangerous because you don’t know how to create a milestone for yourself,” Hall said.

“You have to go back and get that dialogue. When I first experienced it, I thought everything was okay, but then you hear from your employees that you are not okay … Don’t be satisfied when somebody just quickly calls your name and says, ‘You are doing a great job,’” she added.

Seeking out feedback and improving from there is a solid foundation for career advancement and Dunlevy-Miller took the time to speak about how a professional’s value system can be tested as they ascend into leadership roles and how to treat a situation like that.

“I do have to make decisions at times that require considering my hierarchy of values. At our core as an organization we value our people and are willing to advocate. At times we are challenged because a policy might be in conflict with that advocacy,” Dunlevy-Miller said.

A key part of leadership is holding others accountable in completing deliverables, but also providing subordinates with the necessary psychological safety to properly focus on those tasks.

Korngruen made sure to delve deeper into the topic of juggling accountability and security saying, “Accountability is really important to me. Just in my day job, I have to hold a lot of people accountable for a lot of things. Part of the psychological safety part for me is being really upfront with the expectations before something goes wrong, so people know ‘Hey, this is what I’m thinking.’”

Korngruen added, “I’d be upfront with saying what type of conversation we would have to have to hold people accountable if the work doesn’t follow the plan in quality or punctuality. [My team] just knowing we can have that conversation early and then track through the entire process helps with transparency.”

The event closed with a Q&A session where the panel fielded questions from the hybrid audience about career guidance, personal experiences, and leadership advice.

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.