2019 Becky Skillman Regional Leadership Award: NSWC Crane

Becky Skillman and Dr. Brett Seidle, Technical Director at NSWC Crane.

The innovation ecosystem flourishing around Naval Surface Warfare Center Crane Division is no accident: far from it. It’s the result of NSWC Crane’s intentional investment, outreach, and development of strategic partnerships with industry, academia, nonprofits, and other federal labs. The Office of Engagement focuses on building collaborative external relationships; the executive leadership team makes offsite visits across the region; and NSWC’s regional events like Buy Indiana, Advanced Planning Briefing to Industry, Microelectronics integrity meetings, and STEM showcases all serve to advance regional prosperity. The conversations, connections, and collaborations nurtured by Crane stimulate new ideas and new opportunities across the Indiana Uplands. For this uncommon dedication to bringing the region together in pursuit of regional success and prosperity, NSWC Crane was awarded the 2019 Becky Skillman Regional Leadership Award.

Being a good neighbor and corporate citizen has become integral to everyday business at Crane. What it comes down to, ultimately, is people. In its pursuit of regional success, NSWC Crane feeds into its own success. “What we’re trying to accomplish,” Division Technical Director Dr. Brett Seidle told the crowd at ROI’s Annual Report to the Region in French Lick, “is to bring the best subject matter expertise on any problem the Navy has, from right here in Indiana.” And that requires an investment in finding and developing talent within the Uplands, and outreach to ensure existing talent knows about the opportunities at Crane.

As Dr. Seidle told ROI in an interview, “People will say it’s always about the individuals and the employees in your organization. [It] gets said so much now, you wonder if people really mean it. But the truth is, it is everything to our success. We spend a lot of time talking about our culture and environment at Crane. And we have this values-based foundation that we’re all about, that informs our decision making, and we’re really looking for individuals that are passionate about creating a great workplace environment. Because I truly believe that if you have employees that feel joy in what they do, they’re going to be great employees, and you’re going to do everything better.”

And so, according to Dr. Seidle, from a human resources perspective, engaging with the Uplands is both about attracting talent and getting the message about who NWSC Crane is and what they’re looking for: “That’s going to help make our culture even better, make our workplace environment even more inclusive and diverse in a way that’s outstanding for the entire region, and great for us.”

NSWC Crane is very active in STEM initiatives throughout the Uplands, with broad outreach to students and teachers. But it’s a common misunderstanding that NSWC Crane is only looking for scientists and engineers. As Dr. Seidle explained, “Our stature is built on our technical depth and expertise. People look to us for leadership on that front. But if you don’t how to run your business well, then you’re not as effective in those other arenas.”

“We’re running a business at Crane. It’s a working capital fund within the government sector; it’s supposed to mimic what happens in the private sector. So we’re running a business. Whether it’s financial contracting, human resources, safety, environmental management, we do all of those things. And it’s important that we do them well. So, we’re not only looking for STEM talent. We’re also looking for talented individuals that know how to operate a business and how to do those things and how to work in those environments.”

This need for diverse, world-class skills requires a deep talent pool. And the more successful Indiana Uplands is—the more opportunities and growth the region experiences—the bigger that pool becomes, for NSWC Crane and for all the other organizations in the Uplands. NSWC Crane’s leadership work recognizes that as in all ecosystems, the people, organizations, and opportunities in the Uplands innovation and economic ecosystem become stronger through interdependence.

NSWC Crane Technical Director Dr. Brett Seidle (center) accepts the Becky Skillman Regional Leadership Award from ROI President and CEO Tina Peterson (left) and Danny Lopez, former chair of the Governor’s Workforce Cabinet (right).

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