Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Veteran Spotlight: John Wittig

Hire a Hero sat down with John Wittig, a former Navy Nuclear Instructor, whom Orion recently matched with a career at Cytec, a specialty chemicals and materials technology company.

John received his B.S. in Math and Physics from Xavier University in Cincinnati, OH, and then went on to earn his Ph.D. in Physics from the University of Cincinnati. After completing his Ph.D., he joined the Navy as an Officer to train Naval Nuclear Operators in safe operations of naval nuclear reactors and emergency procedures and analysis in Charleston, SC, at the Navy Nuclear Power Training Command (NNPTC).  

Near the end of John’s tour of duty, he attended a DistinguishedCandidate Conference in Baltimore, MD, hosted by Orion International. At the conference John met Cytec’s Cluster 2 Manufacturing Director, a former Navy Nuclear Officer himself, which would later steer John down the path to employment.  “It was through the amazing guidance provided by the entire Orion team that I had the confidence to be myself and present the best version of my abilities during the interview,” John states.

After the Distinguished Candidate Conference, John was offered a site visit to meet the Site Manager and Quality Manager. From there, John was offered the position of Quality Engineer, which he readily accepted.

Just six weeks into his new position, John was offered the role of Labor Strike Contingency Manager. “I had learned from Orion that you should never turn down a work assignment, and so I accepted the offer immediately,” he states.

John was tasked with performing all safety related investigations presenting findings and corrective actions to site and union leadership. He was rewarded with the Power of One operations leadership team recognition for his ability to diffuse very tense situations through keeping a cool head and allowing data and facts to drive outcomes versus emotions. 

After the labor union contract was ratified, John was offered a position as a Production Area Leader for a relatively small business unit.  He had held this position for three weeks when both the site and operations managers left for an executive leadership team meeting in mid-March 2014. Showing great leadership, John stepped in and ran the site. He managed to run the largest business unit, quickly putting together a two-part plan to focus resources on tackling the major engineering issues Cytec faced, as well as building a bridge to re-engage and re-energize the labor force.

John is proud to report that as of February 2015, the site has experienced six consecutive months of a greater than 90% delivery performance and the first month in recorded site history when they have been able to beat the labor cost budget.  It was because of his leadership and success that John was offered the position of FengXian (Shanghai, China) Plant Manager.

For John, the most rewarding aspect of his career is the team that he has built around him to support his vision. “The business unit is far too complicated for one person to do everything. My success could only be achieved by having the right people in the correct roles that trust me and are willing to follow me through a very difficult time,” John explains. 

John attributes his success to the time he spent as a leader in the military. “I learned many valuable lessons about leading people and how to build relationships with people that are completely different from you, which was essential to my success,” he states.

To learn more about how your company can recruit talented veteran candidates for your open positions, please click here.

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