Change agents had opportunities to ask questions and share thoughts during meetings with Newport News Shipbuilding President Jennifer Boykin. Photo by Ashley Cowan

NNS President Begins Meeting with Change Agents

Published February 7, 2024

Newport News Shipbuilding’s change agents had an opportunity to hear directly from NNS President Jennifer Boykin during a pair of recent luncheons. These were the first of planned quarterly meetings between change agents and Boykin.

Change agents are shipbuilders from across NNS who were identified by peers as influencers during the Inspiring Culture Change survey last year. They have agreed to support the company’s efforts to improve leadership culture and performance. During the luncheon, Boykin laid out expectations for the team.

“I expect you to be the megaphone. You will work to understand and challenge us as we talk about what we’re trying to do here and why,” she said. Boykin asked change agents to “be courageous” as they challenge misconceptions and behaviors that are not in alignment with the company’s efforts.

She also asked them to be knowledgeable about how behaviors affect the business and to focus on solutions, not just problems. Boykin pledged to push for the program to succeed and to hold leaders accountable.

NNS is measuring success in culture change efforts with four “true north” metrics: safety, retention, schedule adherence and financial performance.

Danyelle Saunders, the O18 manager whose team leads the Change Agent Program, said having Boykin meet with change agents shows that there is buy-in at the highest levels of the company.

“When it’s important to the president, it’s important to everybody else,” Saunders said after the luncheon. “By being here, she can see firsthand where there are gaps and also hear the workforce’s perspective on solutions. This is definitely a solution-driven effort.”

Pam Pierce, manager of Compensation, was among the change agents who attended the luncheon.

“We are all shipbuilders regardless of our function within the company,” she said. “I appreciate Jennifer Boykin and the senior leadership team for identifying that change is needed and being willing to take steps for improvement. I hope that all shipbuilders will see this as an opportunity and take the journey toward change across our 138-year-old company.”