The Naval Surface Warfare Center (NSWC) in Corona, Calif., employs more than 900 scientists, engineers and support staff, as well as 800-plus contractors, in the critical task of gauging the fighting capabilities of the U.S. Navy’s ships and aircraft.
Yet, three years ago, the center’s leadership realized that it needed a system in place to identify and train the center’s future executive leaders. Promotions had been based primarily on technical, not business, skills. And for the long-term strength of the organization, employees would need a strategic way to achieve their career goals.
Enter the Executive Education Program at the University of Notre Dame. A team from the program partnered with NSWC Corona to design an innovative employee development program that mapped career paths with the requisite skills, knowledge and abilities, and provided for a leadership succession plan, among other goals.
Now, the U.S. Department of Defense has honored the collaborative program with the Silver Workforce Development Award for 2008. The Under Secretary of Defense for Acquisition, Technology and Logistics Workforce Development Award was established in 2004 for the purpose of recognizing those organizations that are achieving excellence in learning and development for their employees. Additionally, the award program identifies best practices for other organizations to adopt.
“We’re delighted that the Department of Defense is recognizing this important work and we commend the NSWC Corona leadership for its vision and commitment to implementing change,” said Sharon E. Keane, director of Executive Programs at Notre Dame’s Mendoza College of Business. “This collaboration was extraordinary and yielded remarkable results.”
The employee development program was developed “in-house,” with Notre Dame’s Executive Education team acting as facilitators and offering support to NSWC personnel, who made the policy decisions in the areas of succession planning, performance evaluation, training programs and compensation. This approach, Keane said, engenders ownership because changes originate within the organization itself rather than being suggested by an outside party.
“The Corona competency model provides the organization insight into the specific competencies required within the career paths at the organization,” said Bruce Galloway, manager of the employee development program at NSWC Corona. “The partnership with Notre Dame was truly a win-win arrangement where both parties benefitted from the experience.”
Notre Dame’s Corona case study was chosen as one of the six most innovative in executive education worldwide by the International University’s Consortium for Executive Education in 2007. BusinessWeek ranked Notre Dame’s executive custom programs as No. 15 in its 2007 ranking.