Experts Share Experiences at Forum Moderated by Former Corrosion Office Deputy Director

By Gretchen Jacobson, NACE International

Former DoD Corrosion Office Deputy Director Richard Hays (left) moderated a panel discussion about organizational leadership at the NACE Leadership Forum, which featured former U.S. Naval Commander Mike Abrashoff, Terry May (founder and CEO of MESA), and Bill Hedges (acting chief engineer at BP Facilities & Assets). Photo courtesy of NACE International.

For the first time, NACE International hosted an interactive Leadership Forum during its annual CORROSION 2018 conference. Held on April 17th, following former U.S. Naval Commander Mike Abrashoff’s keynote address on the topic of leadership, the forum provided the opportunity for attendees to learn from those who set the direction of their businesses and use their management skills to effectively guide teams to reach organizational goals.

At the NACE Leadership Forum on April 17th in Phoenix, AZ, former U.S. Naval Commander Mike Abrashoff addressed the topics of leadership and corrosion control in light of his command of the USS Benford, an underperforming, accident-prone warship. Photo courtesy of NACE International.

Abrashoff, author of the bestselling book, It’s Your Ship, joined a panel that included forum moderator Richard Hays, senior corrosion engineer at Excet, Inc. and former deputy director of the Department of Defense Office of Corrosion Policy and Oversight; Terry May, founder and CEO of MESA; and Bill Hedges, acting chief engineer at BP Facilities & Assets.

Hays began by asking Abrashoff to discuss the importance of a positive workforce culture from a corrosion control perspective. “The number one consideration is safety,” said Abrashoff, who commanded the USS Benford for 18 months and through leadership principles, guided his crew to turn around an underperforming, accident-prone vessel to an award-winning, high-performing warship. “I would walk the ship myself, checking inspection tags on equipment, looking for maintenance issues, even picking up trash, letting my crew know we don’t just walk past anything that doesn’t look right.”

During the question and answer session, May reiterated that it doesn’t matter what size or type of organization you work for; best leadership practices always apply. “My top words for describing a successful leader are ‘humble,’ ‘team builder,’ and ‘learner,’” he said. “All leaders, including myself, make mistakes but we must learn from them to improve.”

Hedges said, “Leadership is a contact sport. You can read books and sit in a classroom, but the fact is that you just have to do it. I have the privilege of leading 100 corrosion engineers. Leadership is indeed complicated and my most important criteria are authenticity, being a motivator, and giving and receiving objective feedback. Everyone has opinions—the only way to find out what they are is to ask, and listen.”

NACE has served as a strategic partner of the DoD Corrosion Policy and Oversight Office since it was founded in 2004. The Leadership Forum is an initiative that coincides with the goals of NACE’s Leadership Training Program for its volunteer members. Participants in this training program learn skills that enable them to grow and succeed in their careers, either within their own companies or through their volunteer work. For more information, visit NACE.

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