May 30

The Hero Experience

On the weekend of June 23rd and 24th, David Johnston and I had the honour of representing Promation in Wasaga Beach for the First Annual Heroes Festival. For those of you who unfamiliar with this event, their website describes it as “… a weekend designed to honour our military, first responder and public safety agencies. A family-friendly weekend where Canadians can interact with the men and women who keep us safe each and every day…”.

Saturday morning started out dark, wet and foreboding. However, the skies soon cleared up enough to provide a glimmer of hope that the air show starring the Canadian Forces Snowbirds would commence in the afternoon. The Promation Aerospace & Defense and Promation Nuclear banners were sharing a booth for the first time. It goes without saying, having a common professional culture, entrepreneurial spirit and corporate values made this pairing a sure thing. We were set up in the “Career Village”, where it was expected that attendees interested in a career in Public Safety (Police, Fire, Paramedic) and those inclined to a life in the military would visit and engage with the employers. I should also mention that there were military veterans looking for opportunities through which to transition into civilian life. As a veteran of the Canadian Forces myself, I can assure you that the transition from a life in the military to a civilian career is a very difficult and daunting experience for most. Veterans often perform best in highly structured workplaces, jobs governed heavily by procedure and protocol, careers where there is often a great deal of trust and responsibility placed in the individual and where integrity rules the day. Promation Aerospace & Defense and Promation Nuclear are a great fit for a transitioning veteran.

David and I greeted scores of visitors and eagerly described the type of work that Promation does in its various endeavors. It was plain to see that those that stopped to talk were clearly impressed by the work we do. While being boastful doesn’t come naturally to either of us, we had no problem expressing the pride in our work and the accomplishments of all at Promation. Many of the exhibitors were giving away all manner of cool swag such as Frisbees, waterproof cell phone cases, pens, lanyards and fridge magnets, but we had one of the greatest draws at the festival. We had Wizard, a 16 month old Australian Shepherd and David’s best friend. Quite literally, hundreds of people over the course of the weekend got down and hugged him and gave him belly rubs which Wizard didn’t mind at all. To be fair, I should mention that there was one other dog with another exhibitor who did a few tricks like sniffing for bombs and drugs or something like that, but he didn’t let anybody rub his belly!

During the drive to Wasaga, I was wondering how good a fit this event was going to be for Promation. After all, I can say to you that with 25 years in the Nuclear Industry I have never met a “Hero” at work, and to be quite honest, I don’t ever want to. In the Nuclear industry, we strive to create a culture and a workplace where when all goes as planned, it is virtually impossible for any individual to “save the day” or have an opportunity to “display a degree of courage not found in all”. Indeed, the exact same can be said for the Defense and Aerospace industry.

Highly regulated industries governed by the most experienced peers, working within the boundaries of proven procedures and employing highly skilled workers using tools and equipment manufactured and designed to the very highest standards in an environment of trust and integrity is not a fertile breeding ground for heroes. So, back to my reflection and how Promation fits into the Heroes Festival.

Consider the following:
– Doing the right thing when nobody is looking.
– Self reporting one’s mistakes.
– Following the rules every time.
– Continuous self improvement.
– Peer coaching.
– Constant cooperation with others to achieve a common goal.
– Having the complete trust of our superiors.
– Facing and overcoming adverse conditions calmly.
– Mastering all of the above and doing it every single day.

Within the Nuclear and Aerospace & Defense industries, we have set the bar so high for ourselves that what we consider the qualities of a good employee are indeed quite exceptional.

As a veteran, I am very uncomfortable with the word hero, as is everyone I ever knew in that capacity. Likewise, I often hear first responders downplay the word hero and say that they “were just doing what they were trained to do”. They have “normalized” exceptional behavior and so have we, and that, is how we fit in. What public safety professionals and the military do is quite often a very visible and public endeavor. What we do is very much out of the public eye and behind the scenes.

When a house catches fire, we expect that the fire department will get there quickly to put it out. When a bank gets robbed, we expect that the Police will catch the perpetrator and take him off of the streets. Despite seeing images of war all over the world, we go to sleep at night knowing that we are safe because we have people in the military willing to put themselves in harm’s way to protect our peace. When we board a plane with our family, we expect that that aircraft is going to make it to its destination safely and without incident. When we flip a light switch to read our children a bedtime story, we assume that that energy is coming to us reliably and continuously from a generating station that is being run safely and responsibly.

Are we all heroes? I don’t know.

Are we all exceptional professionals? We certainly are.

Bruce Conning
Senior Application Associate at Promation Nuclear

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