Working together is success: NAVFAC EURAFCENT public works officers train in Italy

22 November 2021
NAPLES, Italy (Nov. 22, 2021) -- One of the first casualties of COVID-19 was in-person interaction. Socially and professionally, people quickly isolated and maintained connections via telephone, email or video. In the workplace, the many benefits of face-to-face meetings were lost. As soon as travel and social gathering restrictions began to loosen up, leadership at Naval Facilities Engineering Systems Command (NAVFAC) Europe, Africa, Central (EURAFCENT) mobilized to recoup this lost benefit organizing a Public Works Officer (PWO) Leadership and Training Symposium Nov. 16-18.
NAPLES, Italy (Nov. 22, 2021) -- One of the first casualties of COVID-19 was in-person interaction. Socially and professionally, people quickly isolated and maintained connections via telephone, email or video. In the workplace, the many benefits of face-to-face meetings were lost. As soon as travel and social gathering restrictions began to loosen up, leadership at Naval Facilities Engineering Systems Command (NAVFAC) Europe, Africa, Central (EURAFCENT) mobilized to recoup this lost benefit organizing a Public Works Officer (PWO) Leadership and Training Symposium Nov. 16-18.

Even with COVID restrictions being loosened for the fully vaccinated, health safety was a main consideration for the organizers and attendees. Preventive health guidance was followed at all times and attendance in presentations limited to only key representatives.

“These symposiums used to be held somewhat regularly,” said Capt. Ryan Carey, Operations Officer, NAVFAC EURAFCENT. “In addition to the formal agenda, we structured the symposium to allow ample time for the PWO’s and field office leaders to learn from each other and solve challenges common across Navy installations in this region. We want them to leave Naples knowing what resources NAVFAC can bring to bear in support of them, their installations, and their supported tenant commands.”

The three main objectives of the symposium were to provide the PWO’s with a better understanding of the supported command’s perspectives and expectations, to update and reinforce the processes and tools available to support them and to provide a collective opportunity for professional leadership development.

The PWO’s lead departments who, to succeed in their missions, must maintain their focus inside the fence lines of the installations they support. Having an opportunity to hear from senior leaders, like Capt. Michael Davis, Chief of Staff for Navy Region Europe, Central Command; Ms. Juliet Beyler, Executive Director for Navy Europe, Africa and 6th Fleet and Rear Adm. Lore Aguayo, Commander, NAVFAC Atlantic, provided insight into the “bigger” picture.

CDR Adam Kushner, PWO, Bahrain-Isa, feels the long trip here was well worth the effort. “This was an awesome opportunity to spend time with our leadership in Naples. Understanding the perspective of the whole team goes a long way towards success at the installation.”

The PWO attendees lead departments supporting eight Navy installations located in Italy, Africa, Bahrain, Spain, Greece, Romania and Poland. Coming to Naples for the training required a bit of planning and a few different airports for some of the attendees but the personal interaction - with each other and with the presenters and staff at the headquarters - added immeasurably to the value of the experience.

"I think these symposiums have great value. It's nice to put names to faces and to be able to answer questions directly. Also, as a branch head, it was a great opportunity for me to assess just how well my team and I are supporting the departments in the field," said Sharon Hill, Asset Management Branch Head. Hill was one of ten senior managers at the FEC headquarters on the agenda the second day of the symposium.

Overhearing the discussions in the hallways, during the working lunches, inside the offices and during the social time amplifies the overwhelming benefit of having this type of conference centrally. “Thanks to everyone who took time for us this week. Special recognition to the Ops team for putting this together,” said Kushner as he headed out the door for his 3,000-mile journey back to the Persian Gulf.
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