PANAMA CITY, Fla. –
The Federal Women’s Program at Naval Surface Warfare Center Panama City Division (NSWC PCD) served as the driving force behind an event which highlighted the various ways women contribute in their personal and professional lives by hosting a Women’s History Month Panel, March 29.
The event, titled Women in Leadership, encompassed seven female panelist selected to represent the departments across the command to celebrate their accomplishments, discuss a variety of topics that affect the workforce culture, and to shine a spotlight on the importance these panel opportunities bring.
“Our Women in Leadership panelists have been featured in order for our workforce to get to know them,” said Dr. Peter Adair, NSWC PCD technical director. “In the words of Sheryl Sandberg, author of Lean In, ‘leadership is about making others better as a result of your presence and making sure that impact lasts in your absence.’ I trust every participant attending the discussion was inspired by the demonstration of how the obstacles these leaders overcame led to their successes.”
The mission of the Federal Women’s Program is to educate, advocate, and celebrate women in the workforce. Allison Price, NSWC PCD software engineer and Federal Women’s Program lead, explains the importance and motivation behind this highlight.
“We added the emphasis on women in leadership because representation matters, I cannot stress that enough,” Price said. “When job announcements come out for leadership positions or leadership programs, it can be difficult to convince yourself to take that chance if you do not see someone like you in a similar role [proving it can be done]. We want all of the women across our command to see someone like them in leadership roles.”
Each panelist had a different question to address focused on some of the main requests from our Federal Women’s Program attendees. Some of the various topics included career planning, work-life balance, overcoming stereotypes, mentorship, and general career advice.
Blending the diverse workforce with these discussions ultimately impacts the NSWC PCD mission—Ensuring Warfighting Dominance in the Littoral Battlespace. This also aligns with Naval Sea Systems Command’s (NAVSEA) Right Culture/Values strategic goal by striving to instill diversity and inclusion which strengthens into our NAVSEA Warfare Centers One Team collaborative culture.
“There is an African proverb that states: ‘If you want to go fast, walk alone; if you want to go far, walk together.’ Minorities bring unique and diverse perspectives to the table,” said Price. “With an inclusive and diverse environment, we can better design, build, and implement tools to protect the warfighter which is our ultimate goal.”
The event’s design of celebrating women’s past achievements and overcoming present-day challenges was not only intended to help today’s warfare center leaders but also the leaders of tomorrow.
“I want everyone to feel empowered and ready to tackle every challenge to reach their career goals! I hope everyone is inspired by our panelists and uses this as motivation the next time they want to transition to a stretch assignment and start hearing those inner voices spouting doubt,” she said. “I encourage everyone to get involved with one or more of our Special Emphasis Programs and Employee Resource Groups. These programs are great opportunities to expand your network, find mentorship, learn to see things from another perspective, and grow from a professional and personal standpoint.”
NSWC PCD Women’s History Panelists, their respective topics and excerpts:
-Dr. Michelle Kincer, (Code E) Expeditionary and Maritime Systems Department Chief Strategist - overcoming stereotypes
“Stereotypes are really just a type of bias. We all are human and we all have our biases. It’s part of life and growing and having experiences. If we want to tackle stereotypes, we need to look at ourselves first. We need to also remember the long game. [Professionally and proficiently] We need to know our stuff. Last and most importantly the thing I hope you take away is, to be yourself. As women, we tend to hold back parts of ourselves that are sometimes negatively viewed in the workplace. I hope you be yourself to overcome those stereotypes and I hope you do the same for others to appreciate who they are and not fall into the trap of the same stereotypes.”
-Carmelita Martin, (Code A) Head of Assault Breaching Systems Branch - having balance in your home and work life
“My basic approach to life is get in the game. Do something. Anything. Don’t be a lurker on the sidelines just watching everybody else do things. My use of the metaphor ‘get in the game’ means this, for your career: seek out a new position, speak up if you see areas that can be improved, volunteer for opportunities. In short, become part of the solution. In your personal life: prioritize the important people in your life and go spent time with them. Share the big and small moments. Enjoy the journey of life and not just the destinations.”
-Stacy Gibson, (Code 01) Comptroller Department Head at NSWC PCD - leadership advice
“[During a transition period in my life] my division head at the time told me, you can’t control when the opportunity arises, you can only control how prepared you are. I had the opportunity to become part of cohort team but with three young children at home and in a new work position. But I knew at that time that opportunity may not rise again. Future leadership opportunities may not have been available if I had not taken that opportunity. Was this a great time for me to do this? [Are circumstances and opportunities at times less than ideal] and are they difficult and challenging? Oh extremely. But it gave me the opportunity to make relationships with people I wouldn’t have had any other way and…encourages me to always do my best to be as prepared as possible.”
-Mary Langfeldt, (Code 02) Chief Contracting Officer at NSWC PCD - what motived her to become a leader
“Working with the dedicated contract professional is what continues to motivate me who strive every day to serve the warfighter. Watching entry level contractors excel motivates me. Knowing as a team that we can make a difference. My question to you is what motivates you? What gets you excited about life? I leave you with a quote from Henry David Thoreau, go confidently in the direction of your dreams. Live the life that you imagined.“
-Jaimie Brock, (Code 10) Corporate Operations Deputy Department Head at NSWC PCD - what advice she would give her 25-year-old self
“I did not government service on my radar and did not think I would end up here...but I’ve enjoyed the journey immensely. What I would say to my 25-year-old-self is strike a balance…strive to be the most valuable resource in the room…and give back. Get involved and be intentional. Don’t limit yourself. Be true to yourself and your work self. They truly should be the same person. Work hard but you have to play hard. There are other things that matter. Your health is so important. Mental health, physical health matters. What is it you do for yourself? Whatever that passion is make sure you spend time doing it.”
-Amanda Bobe, (Code X) Senior System Test Engineer (SSTE) at NSWC PCD - importance of mentors and mentees
“Mentors are super important. They are rooting for you, they encourage, and they can be sounding boards and can provide constructive criticism and tell you things about yourself that might be hard to hear. Mentors help you gain wisdom of lessons learned you may not have to learn the hard way.”
-Danielle Kinkade, (Code 00) Corporate Strategist at NSWC PCD - significant barriers throughout her career
"Barriers and challenges are normal in that [living life]…over the course of 20 or 30 years, it’s important to consider these challenges are going to arise. It’s really about how we get through them. That’s important because the Navy needs us to deliver and needs us to work through these obstacles and challenges. Starting here in 2008, I worked alongside coworkers who had 20 or 30 years of experience and I’m fresh out of grad school. There was a fear factor around me because I’m surrounded by these experts, it took a lot of mental energy for me…how I worked through this was I focused on the mission and what the Navy was asking me to do. I’m grateful for the team I had around me who supported me. As I gained experience and as I reflect now on that time then, [don’t feel isolated] you’re not the first person to feel that way. If you have barriers, I encourage you to find trusted resources to help yourself to be successful so you can be your authentic selves.”