FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE August 26, 2021
Release #2147 Point of Contact—Jeffrey Prater (401) 832-2039
Cmdr. Cindy Keating discusses key elements of leadership during visit to NUWC Division Newport
by NUWC Division Newport Public Affairs
Open communication is key to fostering a workplace based on respect and equality. Creating those open channels of dialect may not be the easiest thing in highly technical environments, though, Cmdr. Cindy Keating, lead of the Cyberspace Activities Portfolio at Navy Cyber Warfare Development Group (NCWDG), told a group of Naval Undersea Warfare Center (NUWC) Division Newport employees on Aug. 5.
“I know what you’re thinking: Communications, we’re NUWC, we’re mostly engineers and scientists and we’re a little bit introverted. That sometimes comes with the territory, but that’s exactly my point,” Keating said. “NUWC, NCWDG, the submarine and cryptologic communities have highly talented, technical folks, and sometimes we tend to be introverted. That’s OK, introverts are great. They tend to be great listeners — I’m married to an introvert. Sometimes you just have to communicate a little different.
“… It’s difficult to know if an introvert is upset or having difficulty with something,” Keating said. “Most discrimination goes unreported regardless if the victim is an introvert or an extrovert, so it’s even more important to foster that environment of open communications.”
The Equal Employment Office (EEO) and Federal Women’s Program (FWP) hosted Keating’s discussion on equal opportunity and employment as a part of Division Newport’s “Celebrating Our Mission — Appreciating Our People” campaign. The presentation also was recorded and livestreamed to the workforce.
“She gave a really excellent talk,” Division Newport Commanding Officer Capt. Chad Hennings said. “I learned a lot from it. It wasn’t just the diversity and inclusion piece, but what she talked about on leadership and some of the background on what they do at NCWDG was really good as well.”
In discussing how to create those open lines of communication, Keating identified what she believes are four key principles of leadership.
“The first is to know your people and co-workers,” Keating said. “Getting to know introverted teammates may take a little longer and more patience, but it’s important to make quick, personal connections.”
This can be as simple as having a conversation in the hallway, but Keating noted it is important that you actually listen to what the other person has to say and not talk over them.
“Interrupters are the killers of open communications. As you get to know your people, you’ll learn who you need to keep an extra eye on, but also who you need to empower,” Keating said. “Unrealized potential is detrimental to any organization.”
The second element, Keating said, is to care for your people and help them navigate through difficult situations. The saying “praise in public, chastise in private” fits into this category, according to Keating.
Knowing yourself is the third key, Keating said, particularly paying attention to how you communicate. She added that self-analysis is an important element of this.
“Early in my career, it was brought to my attention that I have a condition called RBF — resting boss face. Sometimes there’s another B word there,” Keating said. “The most severe case of RBF I’ve ever seen to this day is in a male counterpart; he looked like he was going to rip someone’s head off 24 hours a day. He actually was just a severe introvert.
“So what am I going to do about my condition? What I do is I own it and I talk about it. When I join a new team, I put out my expectations, my pet peeves and I say I have this condition. Yeah, it’s kind of funny, but I let them know I have an open-door policy. If it looks like I’m mad or upset, I’m probably not, I may just be wondering if I took the chicken out of the freezer for dinner for my family tonight. Talking about it has really helped make me more approachable.”
The last element, Keating said, was to explain the “why” so that employees can understand how all aspects of a project interconnect.
“Developers and engineers love to get in the weeds of a problem, but they often lose sight of the operational impact of what they’re working on — sometimes, they’re not even aware of it,” Keating said. “Employees that understand the ‘why’ are more confident at work, more likely to stick around and more likely to bring issues and recommendations to leadership’s attention. That just makes the whole team better and that’s the goal.”
In addition to her thoughts on leadership, Keating also discussed some of her background and that of NCWDG.
Based in Suitland, Maryland, NCWDG for more than 30 years has conducted technical research and development to create, test and deliver advanced cyber, cryptologic and electronic warfare capabilities to the U.S. Navy using rapid prototyping and acquisition authority.
As U.S. Fleet Cyber Command's lead for cyberspace operations innovation, NCWDG military and civilian personnel experiment with and test new cyberspace capabilities to meet the strategic and operational goals of fleet and combatant commanders.
During her time at NCWDG, Keating has led a department of software developers creating and testing cyber effects as well as coordinated with vendors to contract additional software projects.
About the speaker
A native of Locust Valley, New York, Cmdr. Cindy Keating graduated from the U.S. Naval Academy in 1998 with a bachelor’s degree in oceanography and a commission as a Surface Warfare Officer.
Keating’s first duty station was on the USS Port Royal (CG 73), where she served as an anti-submarine warfare officer. She later served as an auxiliaries officer and completed a Western Pacific and Arabian Gulf deployment. From 2001-03, she served on the USS Comstock (LSD 45) as a weapons officer and force protection officer. She also completed a deployment to the North Arabian Sea in support of Operation Enduring Freedom.
In 2005, Keating transferred into the cryptology community and reported to Navy Information Operations Command (NIOC) San Diego as an information operations (IO) planner. She was assigned as the IO detachment officer in charge as part of Carrier Strike Group Seven embarked on the USS Ronald Reagan (CVN 76), completing a deployment in support of Operations Iraqi Freedom and Enduring Freedom. Shortly after returning from deployment, she assumed duties as NIOC San Diego’s executive officer.
Keating’s shore duties include Tactical Training Group Pacific from 2004-05; commander, Third Fleet from 2009-11; Fleet Cyber Command/10th Fleet Staff from 2012-14; and Undersea Warfighting Development Center from 2014-17. While at Third Fleet, she volunteered for a one-year individual augmentation to establish Expeditionary Strike Group Five (ESG-5) in Bahrain. While with ESG-5, she served as deputy future operations and deputy information warfare commander, providing foreign disaster relief during floods in Pakistan in 2010.
Keating graduated from the Naval War College in February 2012, earning a degree in National Security and Strategic Studies while participating in an advanced research group studying Integrated Air and Missile Defense. In 2017, she reported to NCWDG as the head of the Cyber Effects Department and in 2020 assumed duties as the lead of Cyberspace Activities Portfolio, managing the development and delivery of advanced software development projects.
Keating’s personal decorations include the Meritorious Service Medal (two), Navy and Marine Corps Commendation Medal (six), Navy and Marine Corps Achievement Medal, and various campaign and service ribbons.
NUWC Division Newport is a shore command of the U.S. Navy within the Naval Sea Systems Command, which engineers, builds and supports America’s fleet of ships and combat systems. NUWC Newport provides research, development, test and evaluation, engineering and fleet support for submarines, autonomous underwater systems, undersea offensive and defensive weapons systems, and countermeasures associated with undersea warfare.
NUWC Newport is the oldest warfare center in the country, tracing its heritage to the Naval Torpedo Station established on Goat Island in Newport Harbor in 1869. Commanded by Capt. Chad Hennings, NUWC Newport maintains major detachments in West Palm Beach, Florida, and Andros Island in the Bahamas, as well as test facilities at Seneca Lake and Fisher's Island, New York, Leesburg, Florida, and Dodge Pond, Connecticut.