Pulse news magazine

Volume 27, November 2019

Their mission continues

Stories from our employee veterans on their time in the service, where they are today, and why operational excellence is critical

Stories from our employee veterans on their time in the service, where they are today, and why operational excellence is critical.

It takes a certain kind of person to run into harm's way to aid others – someone who exhibits leadership, integrity, and courage. R.J. Gagnon and Shawn Hussey, two of our more than 1,300 employee veterans working in Electronic Systems, are no exception. Like many high school kids their age, R.J. and Shawn were motivated to enlist after the attacks on September 11. "I always wanted to be a part of something bigger than myself and make a difference," says Shawn, a former United States Army sergeant and Black Hawk crew chief.

Raising the bar

When you're in the field, lives depend on equipment and systems functioning properly. As Shawn recalls, "When I was stationed in Korea, we had a situation that resulted from a quality defect of a critical component of my aircraft. The tail rotor paddle sheared off midflight with 4 crewmembers and 11 passengers. The aircraft began to shudder and spin to the right. You could hear the vibrations in the co-pilot’s voice as she radioed the tower requesting an emergency landing. If it weren't for the quick thinking and exceptional teamwork of the crew, I may not be here today." For Shawn, striving for operational excellence in every aspect of his job is an imperative.

Shawn Hussey in Iraq before the first flight of the day.
Shawn Hussey in Iraq before the first flight of the day.

While he does not work in the direct manufacturing of the components, as a contracts administrator he works with customers each day to bring the best technology to the warfighter that fits their unique needs. In this regard, having a military background to lean on is helpful. When asked what Achieving Operational Excellence means to him, he says, "It means flawless performance in all we do and always trying to raise the bar for ourselves and our customers. We are all responsible for ensuring that our soldiers have the most advanced technology with unsurpassed quality."

A collective effort

When asked what AOE means to him, United States Marine Corps veteran Corporal R.J. Gagnon says, "Operational excellence doesn’t just fall on one person, or one process. It is a supportive network with a common goal. Everyone supports each other at all levels of the business; everyone is equal in the overall mission's success."

Employees greeting R.J. Gagnon after a flag-changing ceremony.
Employees greeting R.J. Gagnon after a flag-changing ceremony.

Like Shawn, he continually draws on his military skills and background for support. Hired through the Warrior Integration Program, R.J.'s first role at BAE Systems was to take his military experience and streamline a manufacturing line in a factory. "I shared my story of who I was and why I was there. I told them, I can't fight on the battlefield anymore, but I can still support my brothers and sisters on the front line who are risking their lives on a daily basis. Can we all work together on making sure this product leaves our factory in the best shape possible?" His words inspired the team to complete backlogs of product, strengthen their quality standards, and meet year-end goals when no one thought it was possible. To this day, R.J. still talks to those colleagues and holds them in high regard.

All about the mission

Shawn and R.J. are similar to many other employees in their strong connection to the ES mission: "We Protect Those Who Protect Us"®. "I made the choice to defend others when I joined the military; I just loved helping people," says R.J. "Working at BAE Systems, I'm able to continue to do this every day." For Shawn, he says, "It isn't just a slogan; it's about ensuring our fighting service members have the safest, most advanced equipment. Our mission allows me to continue to give back to those who are willing to sacrifice everything to protect us."

By Vincent Ardizoni, Communications, Hudson, New Hampshire


BAE Systems' Veterans Support Network (VSN)

BAE Systems' VSN Employee Resource Group connects former service members, active duty members, reservists, and those who are supportive of the Armed Services. The ERG not only provides an esprit de corps and sense of community, but also helps its members grow professionally and better serve our military customers through the exchange of ideas and resources.