NORFOLK NAVAL SHIPYARD, Portsmouth, Va. –
Recently Norfolk Naval Shipyard (NNSY) saw the selection of five individuals into Naval Sea Systems Command’s (NAVSEA) Next Generation of Leadership (NEXTGEN) Program, which offers participants the chance to learn about leadership throughout several different initiatives for the next year. For Radiological Controls (Code 105) Technician Kaitlin “Katy” Johnson, this opportunity was a chance to better herself professionally and develop her leadership skills.
A University of Virginia graduate, Johnson spent a one-year stint providing humanitarian aid in Jordan before she returned to the United States in 2016. Her journey then brought her to NNSY where she’s spent four years working on various platforms, including aircraft carriers, submarines, and facilities. Her duties include providing oversight for work that generates and controls radioactive material. In addition, she also worked in the Code 105.3 development group, which aims to raise the knowledge and skill level of fellow working-level radcon technicians.
When she learned about the opportunity to join the NAVSEA NEXTGEN program, Johnson jumped at the chance and was selected among 50 others across the enterprise. “My main goal for this program is to implement the things I learn in the here and now,” said Johnson. “I have always been really good on the self-awareness facet of emotional intelligence; however, self-awareness has not always resulted in habit change in my personal experience. This is something I really aim to work on over the next year.”
She continued, “A secondary goal of mine is to learn more about NAVSEA as a whole and develop a better understanding of its goals and future plans. The corporation is immense and there are many things going on outside of my bubble within NNSY and beyond. Looking to the future, I strive to be a capable leader within NAVSEA who empowers others. There are several women and men within the organization that I really look up to and I’d like to fulfill the potential they see in me.”
When asked on how she got to where she is today, Johnson noted that mentorship played a big part in her success. “I have been privileged to have several informal mentor relationships in my short time at NNSY,” she said. “Radiological Controls Technician Shanon Rozell did a lot to not only bring up my technical competence but she also modelled how to thrive as a female working in a male-centric workplace. And then there is our Radiological Monitoring Division Branch Head Justin Vaught who was the first supervisor who eagerly took time out of his day to take me on tours of the ships we worked on. His energy and willingness to help me improve has always stuck out to me as the mark of a good leader.”
Vaught is proud of Johnson’s accomplishments both at NNSY and being accepted into the NEXTGEN program. “She always demonstrates a willingness to support the waterfront and now is helping others learn their job,” said Vaught. “As she continues to develop along her path to leadership and gains exposure through networking and training, she’ll prove very valuable and will help shape the enterprise for success.”
For Johnson, she hopes this opportunity will be a step forward not only for herself but be an inspiration for others as well. “We are certainly moving in the right direction to become a more inclusive NAVSEA; however, when I look at my chain of command I see relatively few women in leadership positions. I want to be a part of a diverse command with a wide array of representation in management positions. The NextGen program gives me the opportunity to start with myself. Being a leader doesn’t necessarily mean sitting in an ergonomic office chair with many levels of personnel working for you, it means leveraging your personal strengths and weakness for the betterment of your team regardless of whether you are an SES or a first-year apprentice.”