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Navy Senior Executive Inspires Kindness and ‘Work Ohanas’ at Women’s History Month Observance

By NSWCDD Corporate Communications | April 11, 2019

DAHLGREN, Va. – Amy Markowich, a member of the Senior Executive Service, encouraged everyone to give themselves a round of applause for supporting and developing technologies that enable U.S. troops to fight, win, and come home to their families safely.

The Navy senior executive – speaking to several hundred government civilians, contractors, and military personnel at the 2019 Women’s History Month Observance – commended them for their roles in support of this year’s theme: Visionary Women: Champions of Peace and Nonviolence.

“Does anyone have friends and family who have questioned why you’re in the military, especially as a woman involved with developing lethal military technologies that kill people,” Markowich asked the audience, mostly scientists and engineers as well as business, administrative, and human resource personnel, who support technical programs from Aegis Ballistic Missile Defense and electric weapons to unmanned systems and cyber warfare.

“My response to that question – in the spirit of non-violence and peace – is that I choose not to think of it that way,” said Markowich at the Naval Surface Warfare Center Dahlgren Division (NSWCDD) sponsored event held in the base theater, March 26. “I choose that we develop systems that work the way they should so they bring our young men and women home to their families. It is very much about keeping peace and getting our folks home safely.”

As keynote speaker, Markowich –director of the Integrated Battlespace Simulation and Test Department at the Naval Air Systems Command – joined NSWCDD and the nation in honoring women who have led efforts to end war, violence, and injustice and pioneered the use of nonviolence to change society. These women embraced nonviolent methods to bring much needed social change for the common good of all American citizens.

“Our One Navy Team is made up of female Sailors and civilians where we see the likes of Ms. Markowich whose impressive career is an example of how outstanding women serve our Navy,” said NSWCDD Chief of Staff Chuck Campbell, in his welcoming remarks. “Women serve in every rank from Seamen to Admiral, and hold nearly every job from fighter pilot to deep-sea diver. Many of our female trailblazers are in our midst here at Dahlgren Division.”

Retired mathematician Gladys West – one of the original Dahlgren trailblazers who worked at the command over the course of a 42-year career – played a key role in developing the Global Positioning System. Some of the earliest women that worked at Dahlgren were part of the Women Accepted for Volunteer Emergency Service (WAVES). 

Dahlgren relied heavily on WAVES and civilian women who prepared the Navy for war as engineers, physicists, astronomers, aircraft machinists, mechanics, range workers, and metal smiths.

“To this day we continue to benefit from an inclusive and diverse workforce where women make up 29 percent of the workforce at NSWC Dahlgren,” said Campbell. “Across the Navy and here at the Dahlgren Division, we continue to acknowledge the valuable contributions of women in our work place, in recognition of the integral role they play in building our Navy of today and the Navy the nation needs.”

Markowich – who is also the Navy’s Modeling and Simulation executive and High Performance Computing principal – began her career as an electrical engineer in threat exploitation and electronic warfare.

“When I went to events like this I would be absolutely the only woman there and younger by a lot also,” she said. “Now, when I go to the same electronic warfare conferences, it is so refreshing to see the differences. You talk about being integrated, the crowd is integrated, we’re more like the population for sure. It might not be 50-50 because we still have something to work on the technical side but it’s definitely blended on project teams and the very deep technical fields so that’s been something that’s huge to say.”

In the meantime, Markowich inspired the audience to achieve their career aspirations by creating their “ohana” – which means family in Hawaiian culture – finding joy in your work and being kind to those you work with.

“We are family, we are a work family,” said Markowich. “I always try to create our work ohana – nobody left behind. Have fun while you’re there because if you don’t make it fun while you’re there, that’s 50 percent of your life and who wants that to be a drag so find what you love. Find the things in your day and your career that spark joy within you and find time for that. Figure out what you enjoy and that will make your day go faster. It will make your career fly by and if you’re happy, the rest of your work ohana is happy with you.”

The engineer who was appointed to the Senior Executive Service in June 2009 and served in an array of engineering and leadership positions with over 26 years of experience in test and evaluation and acquisition continued sharing tips for success and happiness in the workplace.

“One thing you want your child to be and learn is how to be a kind person,” said Markowich. “It sounds silly but find time to be kind to each other while you build this thing called the work ohana. Take time thank people and to realize that you really have gratitude for what they did and to help them when they need help or need a hand up or need a kindness. Saying a nice word to somebody might make a complete difference in all of their day. I have found if you just go ask somebody – ‘what are you working on there, well that’s really interesting’ – that person will live on that forever. So, as co-workers, there’s being kind. As leaders, there’s recognizing your folks for what they’re giving to the organization and being kind to them.”

Female Sailors and civilians play an integral role in the success of the Navy as part of the One Navy Team. Women serve in every rank from seamen to admiral and hold nearly every job from naval aviator to deep-sea diver. Twenty percent of the Navy's enlisted force is women, including eight percent of all senior and master chiefs. Nineteen percent of the officer force and 10 percent of all admirals are comprised of women.

In the Navy's civilian workforce, 27 percent are women and 26 percent are Senior Executive Service members.

“As a Navy family,” said Markowich, “we pull together, especially as warfare centers, to support our military and to give them all the tools they need to execute their mission, to keep our country safe, to keep us free, and to bring them home to their families every day so every time they go out, they do what they should and they get to come home.”