SSP’s Tracy Arnold-Berrios Challenges Limitations, Creates Pathways for Future Generations > United States Navy > News Tales

Director of Built-in Nuclear Weapons Security & Safety on the U.S. Navy’s Strategic Methods Applications (SSP), Arnold-Berrios reveals the qualities of a poised chief—a lady who has efficiently translated the ‘nerd’ of her adolescence right into a storied and rewarding profession.

She is without doubt one of the roughly 53,000 girls who serve within the Division of the Navy’s civilian workforce. Twenty-eight p.c of the Navy’s civilian management within the Senior Govt Service (SES) are girls. In 2019, Arnold-Berrios was competitively chosen for her SES place—a standing equal to a basic or flag officer with the DOD. SSP’s mission is to offer credible and reasonably priced strategic options that equip America’s Warfighting Navy to discourage strategic assault and underwrite the safety of our nation and our allies. Arnold-Berrios’s work at SSP encompasses a important obligation inside that mission: overseeing the Nuclear Weapons (NW) safety coverage, program administration, compliance and coordination throughout the enterprise to assist the nuclear mission.

Although she was well-suited to math and science, an engineering profession wasn’t the unique plan for Arnold-Berrios—and it actually wasn’t her first decide for school.

“I all the time wished to go to med faculty and my unique diploma was going to be Chemistry,” she stated.

She and her buddies—who attended an all-girls catholic highschool within the better Washington, D.C. space—weren’t afraid of taking pictures for the celebs. They had been a aggressive and decided group of younger girls who took superior math and science courses at an all-boys faculty as a result of there was no accessible funding for courses on the ladies faculty.

“We had been the women towards the world,” she thought aloud—however Arnold-Berrios was additionally a realistic thinker, so when she received to varsity she determined to barely alter her plan.

“My first week at Northwestern, I made a decision I wished to be an engineer—one thing that gave me extra flexibility if I didn’t, as an example, get accepted into med faculty.”

And in 1982, Arnold-Berrios graduated with a Bachelor of Chemical Engineering diploma from Northwestern College. Her entry into authorities work was one thing of a household custom. Her father had served within the Navy and labored on the Naval Floor Warfare Middle (NSWC) White Oak the place he retired. Her mom labored in Human Sources at NSWC White Oak and later retired from the Nationwide Institutes of Well being (NIH).

“Working in authorities was form of just like the household enterprise,” she stated.

In related vogue, Arnold-Berrios started her profession with a job on the NSWC-Indian Head as a producing engineer. She conspicuously superior by way of the group, holding a number of management positions and labored on the event, manufacturing, and testing of Energetic Supplies.

On the time, she and her friends represented a rising variety of girls in Science, Expertise, Engineering, and Arithmetic fields.

“At Indian head, I received to do actual work,” she stated.

“Whenever you work with the federal government group of engineers and operators, you get expertise early on and publicity to hands-on tasks. You additionally get much more duty.”

Practically 20 years later, when Arnold-Berrios started at SSP, she stated the work was simply as thrilling and attention-grabbing. She defined that one among her first large tasks was targeted on the Ohio-Class Guided Missile Submarine (SSGN) Assault Weapons System Program. The job was to handle concurrent design and manufacturing actions together with the Demonstration Validation of the primary profitable launch of Tomahawk missiles from an Ohio-class SSGN.

“The SSGN demonstration validations was an incredible studying expertise,” stated Arnold-Berrios as she recalled the challenge’s success within the early 2000s.

“We had to determine find out how to get this method able to launch inside 9 months… how do you try this!?” she contemplated.

“SSP has afforded me the chance to study a myriad of various issues… and you’ll’t purchase that have.”

However being a feminine within the STEM profession area isn’t all the time simple. Oftentimes, work-life stability wasn’t afforded within the profession path, and girls actually didn’t discuss their households or the balancing-act it was to lift youngsters and work typically 60+ hours weekly, Arnold-Berrios defined. The sphere was troublesome to get into, however pioneers like Arnold-Berrios haven’t let gender limitations stand in her method. Based on a examine printed by the NIH’s Nationwide Library of Medication, girls in 1980 had been awarded 37.2% of all bachelor’s levels within the fields of science and engineering. However the group of ladies—as Arnold-Berrios describes them—had been decided to proceed defying the norms and surpassing glass ceilings.

“All of us began—so many people—we had been extra decided to succeed and didn’t let anyone put us in a field,” she stated.

Arnold-Berrios famous the limitations in her early profession weren’t actually about her being a minority lady within the STEM area as a lot as they had been plainly about being a feminine within the job. She described how the vitality in a room would change when she walked in. Despite the fact that she didn’t really feel her gender was an impediment within the job, at occasions, the remedy she obtained indicated in any other case.

“I feel I received my first shock throughout my first job in a manufacturing setting,” she recalled.

“You [women] had been simply handled worse than your friends.”

Arnold-Berrios shared that in her experiences, girls on the job needed to show they’d put within the time by working late shifts or weekends, if obligatory. She highlighted how she and her feminine

colleagues labored tougher to make sure they weren’t the perceived because the weakest hyperlink on the group and had been all the time ready to tackle extra duties.

“You all the time had to make sure you weren’t the ‘note-taker’ in conferences, and I made a promise to myself to by no means take minutes or write on the white-board,” she shared.

“Typically occasions, my male colleagues would say ‘your handwriting is best’, however I’d not fall into the lure as a result of I knew that anybody on the group was able to maintaining minutes—not simply me.”

So, she rose above and refused to just accept inferiority—she demanded to be seen and handled as equal to any males on the job. In spite of everything, she demonstrated she was simply as aggressive, working the identical lengthy hours and proving extremely proficient at technically troublesome work. To be a lady within the area—she notes—typically it’s a must to settle for issues gained’t be flawless.

“The place I consider typically girls create limitations for themselves is that they persuade themselves every little thing have to be excellent,” she stated as she ruminated on occasions up to now the place she needed to sacrifice conventional gender expectations together with her household to work—or vice versa.

“You’re human and also you won’t get it proper 100% of the time, so that you simply have to offer your self grace and dwell for an additional day.”

Arnold-Berrios’s recommendation is in sync with what leaders on the highest echelons of the Navy are conveying. Chief of Naval Operations Adm. Lisa Franchetti lately shared some sensible counsel she was given about taking a seat and exercising your voice on the desk.

“As somebody instructed me at a management course early in my profession, ‘You belong. Don’t subtract your self from the equation.’”

This champion-like angle is shared by one other flag officer who sits in an workplace simply down the corridor from Arnold-Berrios—somebody she says has had an incredible affect on her profession at SSP.

“He has all the time made me stretch and do one thing completely different,” she stated of Vice Adm. Johnny Wolfe Jr, the director of Strategic Methods Applications.

“‘Get out of your consolation zone,’” she recalled with a smile—a mindset Vice Adm. Wolfe persistently verbalizes to the SSP workforce.

“He all the time had one other job for me to do, simply as I used to be getting comfy in my present place… however I’d not be right here at the moment if he didn’t do these issues. His imaginative and prescient was superior and targeted on the long run.”

This is identical sort of sharp steerage a trusted and revered mentor like Arnold-Berrios communicates each day to her friends and subordinates. To no shock, Arnold-Berrios is an lively mentor at SSP and holds one-on-one mentoring classes in addition to group gatherings to impart what she’s discovered—to ladies and men alike.

“I’ve thought-about Tracy a private mentor of mine for nearly 10 years,” stated Megan Donnelly, who heads SSP’s Infrastructure Necessities Integration part.


“She is sort of a grasp orchestrator, guiding and main, whereas empowering people to step into a lot bigger roles.”

Donnelly describes her expertise at SSP as “very supported” and says there’s a rising group for girls supporting girls and inspiring girls in any respect ages and profession levels to tackle further management roles. Whereas working at SSP, she has had the chance to maneuver by way of numerous positions whereas taking up numerous duties and being delegated authorities to execute the job—one thing that Arnold-Berrios additionally stated throughout our interview.

“The admirals at SSP have allowed me to personal my triangle in each job I’ve had right here: duty, accountability, and authority,” Arnold-Berrios stated.

“Such a management philosophy allowed me to have the ability to succeed or fail by myself as a result of I owned it from begin to end.”

Donnelly’s expertise is identical and he or she highlighted the tradition as among the best aspects of working at SSP.

“The command invests within the particular person each personally and professionally by way of further coaching, rotations, and management growth alternatives,” Donnelly stated, including that she sees Arnold-Berrios main the way in which in each technical experience and strategic pondering throughout the enterprise.

Donnelly’s colleague, Regan Hinman, shares the identical evaluation of Arnold-Berrios. Hinman works because the Naval Industrial Reserve Ordnance Plant Program Supervisor for SSP’s department that handles strategic weapons system Enterprise Infrastructure and Capabilities.

“I’ve personally benefitted from Ms. Arnold-Berrios’s mentoring by gaining an understanding of the nuances and significance of being strategic and deliberate in my communication fashion and choices to assist additional my aims and visions as a lady in STEM,” stated Hinman.

She mirrored on how Arnold-Berrios takes a “tailor-made” method to mentoring which supplies the mentee a novel option to perceive their strengths as belongings and their weaknesses as alternatives for progress. Donnelly famous the ladies in STEM are nonetheless thought-about a minority.

“[The] ranges of illustration can typically be intimidating whenever you stroll right into a briefing room and really feel just like the odd one out,” she stated.

“I consider that it is very important be capable of construct a group in all points of life, and I additionally consider there’s very sturdy sense of group shared amongst girls in STEM, particularly at SSP.”

Hinman added that Arnold-Berrios takes a deliberate method to grasp individuals at a person degree—considering their values, motivations, and experiences.

“One primary precept all individuals share is that we wish to really feel related to the individuals we work with and the mission we assist,” she stated, noting that SSP has given her a really sturdy sense of shared group amongst girls in STEM.

Again on the convention desk, I requested Arnold-Berrios about the way forward for SSP—given the difficult strategic setting the USA faces across the globe—and he or she stated she believes the command is at a pivotal level.

“We’re at this moonshot second, and there’s a lot risk sooner or later—and it’s going to prosper for a very long time.”

“We should empower our workforce to innovatively clear up advanced technical challenges—at the moment and sooner or later—which in the end strengthens our skill to safe our Nation,” she continued.

She stated extra have to be executed to draw and retain expertise at a command like SSP, and stated the Navy ought to search methods to raised join at the moment’s youth to STEM packages.

“On the high-school degree, children don’t typically perceive how doing the mathematics would possibly sooner or later translate to creating a missile that flies into house.”

She identified that at the moment’s younger generations aren’t as uncovered to STEM fields—particularly in underrepresented communities—and that’s the place the disconnect is available in recruiting earlier than the collegiate degree.

Lastly, she mentioned how necessary it’s for girls in STEM to be their biggest advocates and stated, extra broadly, that SSP should do the identical to be able to adequately meet its important cost.

“Each greenback that’s invested in SSP brings nothing however worth for the DoD and our nation.”

Equally as important is constructing trusted and long-lasting relationships and partnerships, which is high-value forex at a command like SSP.

“All of us have to be well-positioned to signify our command, and the navy, contractor, and business partnerships we construct at the moment will efficiently mature SSP’s mission far into the long run,” Arnold-Berrios stated.

Arnold Berrios typifies the wonderful qualities leaders of all genders ought to embody to be able to efficiently contribute to the mission. She resides proof that relationship constructing; laborious work and dedication to mission; staying true to your self; and taking good care of your individuals—at each profession degree—are value their weight in gold.