Roderick Johnson knows the value of mentorship and teamwork. A Red Seal steamfitter/pipefitter at Halifax Shipyard, Roderick considers himself lucky to have had so many strong role models in his life – from his father and uncles to his “shipyard grandfather,” Gerald “Tubby” Benoit.
Roderick explains that he’s where he is today thanks to support from others. Unsure of his career path, it was a push from his uncle, the owner of a construction company, that led him to pursue a trade. Working in Western Canada as a pipefitter, it was a suggestion from his cousin, an ironworker at Halifax Shipyard, that led Roderick to apply and eventually return home to Nova Scotia. Having previously worked at the Shipyard – taking some time away to experience pipefitting in the oil sands – it was a welcome return for Roderick.
At Irving Shipbuilding, it was mentorship from Gerald, a colleague, that helped set Roderick up for success. Thinking back to when he started as a pipefitter apprentice, Roderick recalls an important lesson he learned from Gerald early on.
“What really stuck with me was this belief that you’ve always got to help people. If I needed help with anything, I always went to Tubby first. And if he couldn’t help me, he’d show me who could.”
Gerald passed away the same day Roderick received his Red Seal Journeyperson certification. While Roderick considers someone like Gerald to be “irreplaceable,” he does his part by paying the support he received forward.
Now volunteering as a mentor for Pathways to Shipbuilding, a program offering education, apprenticeship, and career opportunities in shipbuilding to persons who are historically underrepresented in the industry, Roderick supports the next generation of shipbuilders. He keeps in touch with graduates of the program, staying connected both online and at the shipyard, and is happy to consider some of them good friends.
While it seems that mentorship has come full circle for Roderick, he’s quick to highlight that he still receives support from his colleagues.
“If I have a question, I can ask anyone. It doesn’t need to be someone more senior or someone who’s been there longer – I could ask an apprentice; I could ask someone in another trade. Everyone works together and that’s what makes us succeed.”
Roderick is happy to be working at home in Nova Scotia, enjoying family time, and proudly building ships for Canada.
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