United States Navy
Briefly describe your daily job duties.
Provide project management and oversight into the execution of over $30M dollars in support of Navy Special Warfare munitions procurements and sustainment. Routinely work with the special operations community to fulfill all requirements for operational and training usage for “service-common” ammunition. This ammunition is commonly used by other branches of the armed forces. enabling the United States Navy to arm its warfighters with the latest/greatest munitions at a reduced cost to achieve mission objectives. Daily Job duties include:
-Hosting meetings, answering data calls, and balancing a budget so that all benchmarks are met.
-Ensuring that financial benchmarks are met for all procurements and sustainment actions.
-Liaise with the special warfare community for news, notes, and emerging requirements for ammunition.
-Serve as the primary point of contact for all “ammunition-related” questions and work with 2-3 other people daily, in constant communication.
As a person who stutters, share the most challenging part of your job.
The most challenging part of my job while having a stutter is very simple. As a project manager, your primary role is to provide oversight, which requires oral/written communication with your peers. Important briefings, phone calls, and questions are sometimes difficult to convey and come out choppy or not the way I intended. Being a stutterer in this profession is difficult, but not impossible to overcome. There are other ways to communicate and while in the workplace, orally is normally the number 1 method, the fact that you try to communicate through speaking garners the respect of your peers and professionals alike.
What are your long-term career aspirations?
My long-term career aspiration is to become a program manager for a major acquisitions program in the private or public sector. It will be challenging but armed with a sense of confidence and an office full of professionals that see past my speech issues something that can definitely be achieved.
Did you self-disclose your stuttering during the job hiring process?
Yes, I was very forthright and upfront about my stutter. If I had to describe it, I would say it is moderate to severe with blocks and uncomfortable pauses in my speech. While this can be a nerve-racking process, I have found that being upfront with my speech impairment lessened my anxiety about the hiring process and always allowed me to convey what I want to say, without the fear of judgment from my coworkers. After overcoming this hurdle, I include a note in most of my briefings or meetings that I am a stutterer. 99.9% of the people who I work with honestly don’t care and will wait to hear what you have to say.
What is your proudest moment at your current company?
The proudest moment for me is when I transitioned to federal service after six (6) years as a contractor within the Navy Special Warfare Office. It was for me a long hard road, coming from a person who tried to hide their stutter to a person that embraced it because it made me unique. Unique in a way that I had to overcome difficult hurdles in the program management profession which is dominated by briefings, reviews, and phone calls. Love it or hate it, you will have to speak sooner or later, so why not just say, “hey guys before we start, I want to let you know that I am speech impaired, so it may take me longer to get out my words.” My current supervisor, who I also supported as a contractor saw this and told me that my stutter was a part of me and will always be, but it does not have to hamper my professional career. The fact that I did stutter provided some of the primary motivations for my hiring into federal service and showed to my office that despite all the landmines placed in front of me, I was willing to put my head down and charge forward.
Describe how stuttering makes you a better, more valued contributor at work.
While being a project manager requires some degree of oral eloquence and fluency, I have found that my stutter allowed me to hone my other skills, namely technical writing and analytics. Through software programs such as MS Project and MS Excel, I have found a method for communicating my ideas, analysis, and opinions through my work rather than always having to explain this orally. In my profession, you would be surprised at the number of people who can speak beautifully but have a hard time conveying written arguments or ideas. But do not rely on this entirely. This is a professional world full of oral communication. Use your written work to buttress your argument, and regardless of your stutter, your coworkers will see the effort that you put into it.
What’s your best advice for people who stutter just entering the workplace and for those in a career striving to achieve greater success?
I think the hardest thing for stutters in the workplace is that you are on a day-in/day-out basis always trying to validate yourself and provide that you have value. This is a constant battle where the art of oral fluency is constantly on display. Just sit down at your desk and listen. All around you are people that do not stutter and seemingly can rattle off metrics and data points that make them look like program management all-stars. You are an all-star too, but you cannot say it clearly, so in your mind, it becomes a feeling that you don’t know what you are “trying” to talk about.
My Advice: Regardless of how uncomfortable and awkward it may be, don’t ever be silenced by your emotions or perceptions. You’ll be amazed at the professionalism, compassion, and respect that your coworkers will give you for just trying something that they know is personally difficult for you. I have been truly blessed to work in an environment where DEEDS NOT WORDS, define you professionally. This mindset has driven my success, and although my stutter is still there and not going away, it will not stop me from achieving my goals because I know deep down there is more to me than just that.