NEWS | June 28, 2012

Ms. Cathy Wyatt Receives Commanding Officer's Award for Excellence in Secretarial Support

By Donna McKinney

Ms. Cathy Wyatt, who works in the Electronics Science and Technology Division at the Naval Research Laboratory, has received the Commanding Officer's Award for Excellence in Secretarial Support. The award was established in 1994 to recognize significant contributions made by NRL civilian employees working in secretarial positions.

Ms. Wyatt is cited for:

excellence in secretarial support because she is highly competent, knowledgeable, hardworking, proactive and dedicated to serving NRL. Cathy consistently and voluntarily goes far beyond what is expected of her to help others and to make NRL work more efficiently. She has demonstrated her excellence by voluntarily training each of the secretarial staff for the entire Division, by proactively identifying and solving Division-wide problems and by questioning and working to change inefficient lab policies. In addition, her honesty, integrity and dedication to her job serve as an example for all NRL employees to follow. In short, Cathy exemplifies excellence by her single-minded, dedicated effort to facilitate the work of NRL scientists, their managers and everyone around her.

Ms. Wyatt serves as the branch secretary for the Electronic Materials Branch in the Electronics Science and Technology Division (ESTD). She was hired as an intern in April of 2008 and became a full-time staff member two years later. In that short time, Ms. Wyatt has demonstrated complete mastery of her position, explains Dr. Eric Snow, head of the Electronic Materials Branch. She is now regarded as the expert within the ESTD on almost every administrative issue. Her administrative procedures and record keeping (many of which she developed herself) are often used as a model for the rest of the Division.

Ms. Wyatt maintains and reconciles the Branch budget, which involves approximately 50 job order numbers and totals approximately $7 million. Her Branch regularly has the lowest number of job order number overruns in the Division. In May 2011, the Division Superintendent recognized Ms. Wyatt with an On-The-Spot Award for having no outstanding overruns.

When Ms. Wyatt deals with an administrative issue involving the staff scientists, the staff members respond to her and comply, explains Dr. Snow. The scientists respond to Cathy because they respect her and because they know she is working her hardest for their best interest. Because of this, Ms. Wyatt has greatly improved how the Branch scientists interface with other NRL groups such as security, travel, safety, and purchasing. In fact, he says, she has improved how the Branch operates in almost every aspect.

In essence, Dr. Snow says, Cathy is totally committed to and capable of making sure the Branch runs smoothly. These qualities make Cathy a very good Branch Secretary. What makes her truly exceptional is her willingness to step outside her assigned duties and proactively tackle problems well beyond what is asked of her.

Ms. Wyatt also provides support when other Branch secretaries leave their positions, volunteering to help out until a replacement is found. Then she is the person who trains the replacement. In the last couple of years she has trained every other Branch secretary in the ESTD. This willingness to fill in when necessary and to train new staff creates a substantial amount of additional work for Ms. Wyatt. However, she handles both her work and the work she does for the other branches without complaint.

As a manager, Dr. Snow says, I have learned that the attitude and behavior you exhibit ultimately is reflected in the attitude and behavior of the people you manage. Therefore, it is extremely important to me that the Branch office conduct itself with honesty, integrity, respect for others and dedication to NRL, because this is the behavior I want from my scientists. Without me ever mentioning this to Cathy she has, from the start, demonstrated all of these qualities. She has unknowingly served as an excellent example for the entire Branch to follow. I am extremely fortunate to have an administrative assistant who shares my values.