Developing the Next Generation of Shipyard Leaders

The Careers on Course: Shipyard Leader Development Program is a structured, multi-year program composed of four blocks. Participants move through the program while focusing on key areas such as, increasing self-awareness, building leadership capability, enhancing exposures, and empowering accountability.

The development of our people is essential to Irving Shipbuilding Inc.’s (ISI) future success and growth. This development program provides the experiences needed to build key skills and enable participants to become highly effective Leaders. Participants drive their development in this program and receive direct support, mentorship and coaching as they practice new critical skills and participate in new experiences. Continuous learning and development and growth opportunities are provided through role-specific training and other professional development opportunities.

The first wave of this program kicked off in September 2020 with five participants from various areas of our operations with very different backgrounds. These five participants are demonstrating a willingness to grow and add value to the organization which is critical to the success of the program.

Future intakes of employee participants for the Shipyard Leader Development program will follow. To learn more about opportunities to join our team visit

As the current participants approach the end of their first block in the program, we caught up with them to see what they have learned so far.

GRAHAM ZINCK, Area Manager at Halifax Shipyard. Joined ISI in 2017.

Previous Roles at ISI: Production Work Lead, Production Supervisor

Hometown: Halifax, Nova Scotia

Education: Red Seal Construction Electrician

What drew you to this program? "I’m fascinated with huge construction projects; I’ve witnessed first-hand what a positive impact good leadership can have on projects. I want to be that leader that has a positive impact on this project”.

Biggest take away so far: “I learned a lot about myself. Including my strengths and the areas where I can improve”.

"There is lots of opportunity here at the shipyard, A lot of room for people to step up and become the leaders that they were born to be."

BRUCE COLLINGS, Team Leader - Platform Delivery on the Canadian Surface Combatant Program. Joined ISI in 2018.

Previous Roles at ISI: Marine Systems Engineer

Hometown: Ulverston, Cumbria

Education: Bachelor of Engineering (Honours), Mechanical Engineering from Lancaster University (England, UK)

What drew you to this program? “The opportunity to gain exposure throughout the business to increase my operational knowledge of ISI, gain leadership experience, expand my professional network and to give me a broader perspective of the shipyard culture. I was fortunate to participate in a similar rotation based programme at my previous employer, and was excited about the opportunity to do so here with Irving Shipbuilding!”.

Biggest take away so far: “I have thoroughly enjoyed the opportunity to build lasting relationships with the other candidates in the programme. Working through real-life problems as a group has been invaluable and given me a broader perspective of the shipyard operations".

“I have enjoyed the clear direction on the 70/20/10 approach to professional development at ISI, and the onus on the employee to drive their development. I have also taken full advantage of the formal e-learning material available via Skillsoft and would encourage others to do the same!”.

The 70/20/10 Learning Development Model suggests development plans should have: 70% “on the job” developmental activities, 20% coaching and/or mentoring opportunities and 10% skill development activities by traditional learning methods.

THOMAS LOGAN, Area Manager at Halifax Shipyard. Joined ISI in 2007.

Previous Roles held at ISI: Electrical Apprentice, Electrical Journeyperson, Electrical Supervisor

Hometown: Port Glasgow, Scotland. “When I was 11 our family Immigrated to Saint John, NB. My dad worked on the original frigate program at the Saint John shipyard”.

Education: Red Seal Industrial Electrician

What drew you to this program: “I have been extremely fortunate to have learned my trade and Shipbuilding from some of the most talented and gifted shipbuilders you could ever meet. As a Journeyperson/Supervisor I understood the concept of “How” to build a ship, I was missing the aspect of “Why”, the business side of shipbuilding. I was interested in transferring my skills from the trades into a more defined Leadership role to help new and future generations of Shipbuilders become successful at their craft. I saw the leadership development program as a terrific growth opportunity, not only for myself but, for our Electrical team at ISI as a whole, with a strong focus of developing, building and growing future leaders within ISI”.

Biggest take away so far: “The training/ learning I have experienced through the past year has had a direct trickle down effect throughout our team. At the beginning of the program it was quite self reflective, really getting to know and understand my habits and how I was currently leading my team both in positive and negative ways. My main focus during the first phase of the program was on self- awareness, I challenged myself to make this a priority. It was uncomfortable at stages, yet it changed my outlook on my decision-making process, The importance of being proactive as well as a strong emphasis on empathy, understanding people’s situations and working with them to remove roadblocks the best way we can to be successful in producing a quality product”.

"Having the opportunity to go through the leadership program with the other candidates has been a great experience. We all come from different backgrounds within the business each with our own areas of expertise, this makes for a collaborative environment, which is very important in Shipbuilding, open communication and driving to come up with the best way forward. It has been a great group to go through Leadership development program with.”

GRAHAM CRAWFORD, Manager, Production Planning at the Halifax Shipyard. Joined ISI in 2016.

Previous Roles at ISI: Production Controller, Planning Team Lead, Assistant Planning Manager

Hometown: Halifax, Nova Scotia

Education: Mechanical Engineering Technology Diploma from Nova Scotia Community College

What drew you to this program: “The opportunity to work on a project scope and size of the Arctic and Offshore Patrol Ship and Canadian Surface Combatant programs in my hometown is something that drew me to ISI. I enjoy being successful as a team, by empowering others to be successful. Throughout my experience at ISI, I have been given opportunities for personal and profession development and want to be part of the leadership team that provides these opportunities for development to future shipbuilders.”

Biggest take away so far: “Being aware of my abilities and skills as well as opportunities and toolsets for development to grow my own skills and to pass along to others around me”.

“Very much enjoy being part of the ISI team and grateful for the opportunities I’ve been given. Look forwarded to continued success in the future!”.

CORTNEY BANKS, Area Manager at Halifax Shipyard. Joined ISI in 2017.

Previous Roles at ISI: Systems Engineer, Functional Engineer, Project Engineer, Area Manager at Woodside Industries

Hometown: Shag Harbour, Nova Scotia

Education: Bachelor of Engineering, Ocean and Naval Architectural Engineering from Memorial University. Professional Engineer.

What drew you to this program: “The program was recommended to me, and I enjoyed my time leading the Labelling team for ship 1 and wanted to see what could happen with actual training”.

The labeling team puts equipment identifiers (labels) on all the equipment on board (valves, machinery, piping, etc.).

Biggest take away so far: “Being involved in leadership growth with this group of amazing people is a great boost. I learn from them every time we are together. We can challenge each other using the training and information we are presented with and talk through how to best use it here at ISI”.


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