BY CMDCM (SW/AW) THADDEUS T. WRIGHT
Master Chief Petty Officer Monique L. Chatman is a native of Erie, Pennsylvania. She enlisted in the United States Navy in September 1989. After completing Recruit and Apprenticeship Training in Orlando, Florida, she reported to her first command on the USS Vulcan (AR 5). She struck into the ship’s serviceman (SH) rating two-and-a-half years later.
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MCPO Monique L. Chatman
Chatman’s previous sea duty includes tours on USS Shenandoah (AD 44); USS Emory S. Land (AS 39); USS Hayler (DD 997); USS Iwo Jima (LHD 7); USS Cole (DDG 67); and USS Bataan (LHD 5).
Her shore duty assignments include Defense Commissary Agency Oceana, Virginia; Naval Brig Norfolk, Norfolk, Virginia; Naval Support Activity Norfolk, Virginia; Guantanamo Bay, Cuba; and Afloat Training Group (ATG), Norfolk, Virginia. She is currently assigned to the Ship’s Store Program (Code A), Navy Exchange Service Command, Norfolk, Virginia.
Chatman is a graduate of Excelsior College where she earned her associate degree in business administration specializing in management. She is actively pursuing her bachelor’s degree at Saint Leo University and is a graduate of the Senior Enlisted Academy Class (168).
I met Chatman when she was a Chief Petty Officer assigned to the USS Cole (DD 67) in 2006. I was impressed that, in addition to her duties of the Supply Department Leading Chief Petty Officer (LCPO), she was also filling the S-2 LCPO gapped role and helping the ship transition to the Navy Standard Core Menu. It was an honor to tap her shoulder with the below questions. Her answers are “spot-on” and provide successful lessons of deck plate experience for all paygrades.
What was your favorite job position (E1 to E5) and (E7 to E9)?
My favorite position as an E5 was being the records keeper (RK) in S3 Division. As an SH, if you learned and mastered the records, half the battle was won in being successful. The job skill set as RK could make or break the entire retail sales operation. That job kept you in the pubs (NAVSUP P-487, SURFORINST 5040 and AIRFORINST 4400). As the RK, you have the opportunity to share that knowledge with others who are eager to learn.
As an E8, I enjoyed working as a trainer and assessor at ATG. This position opened many doors and avenues to connect with the Sailors on the waterfront. As an ATG inspector, being able to encourage and challenge so many Sailors made this the perfect job for me. When I came onboard a ship, Sailors knew they had to be on their “A game” every moment. I was known for asking basic-level-of-knowledge questions, and if the SHs did not know the answer, they knew it before I left at the end of the week. Many are grateful today because I pushed them to study harder, and many advanced thanks to the additional learning.
What are the most valued qualities that a leading petty officer (LPO), resale operations management RK, and a sales officer should have?
As an LPO and RK, first and foremost, lead from the front. As a SH first-class petty officer, my SHs knew I had a high level of expectations. We always achieved those expectations, and at times it required me to be right there on the deck plate with my Sailors, which I did not mind doing. Furthermore, a very important quality as an LPO is to ensure that professional boundaries are always maintained. Many leaders don’t know how to balance that today. When you know your people, you know how to interact with them and show them that you care, without becoming their buddy.
As a sales officer, be involved and know what is going on in your operation. This requires adhering and reading the NAVSUP P-487. This prepares a sales officer for success in that next position, whether as a disbursing officer, postal officer, hazmat officer, etc. This eventually prepares him or her for that next tour which could be a SUPPO.
Understand and be involved with the Sailors in your division. Take that division officer (DIVO) approach; let them know you care, but also let them know your expectations. Be well rounded; the DIVO has always worn four hats. Be sure you are engaged with the wardroom, and achieve those pins (qualifications). Make a name for yourself as a sharp officer who the commanding officer (CO) and executive officer (XO) will always remember. Remember, don’t stress out, and never let them see your sweat – others are watching.
What were some of your goals when you were coming up through the ranks?
I developed and set some of my goals coming up through the ranks at an early stage as a deck seaman. One determined goal was to transfer out of deck division. While under the boatswain’s mate rating construct, I was focused on becoming a crane operator onboard the USS Shenandoah (AD 44). This was a skilled trait for E5 and above only. I requested to complete the qualification and was approved. It took a lot of dead and operational lifts, along with safety training, but I succeeded. This is when I established a level of expectation for myself to maintain.
While the surface and air warfare qualifications were an honor to earn, my greatest accomplishment was completing the engineering training team member qualification. I thank Gas Turbine Technician (Mechanical) Master Chief Augustin Charles (TOP SNIPE) and the main propulsion assistant during the USS Cole (DDG 67) deployment 2008, who entrusted me with this privilege and challenge to train their engineering watch teams.
Who were some of your mentors over the years?
Retired Master Chief Ship's Serviceman (SHCM) Ples Hodges was my “sea daddy,” or as known today, my mentor. He could always be very direct with me because of my personality and character. He helped me excel to where I am today and for that I am grateful.
Culinary Specialist Senior Chief Lythe Dozier was also a great mentor. He showed me how to take care of Sailors and how to deal with the upper chain of command while we were stationed together at combined bachelor housing. I miss him and all his silly songs; rest in peace.
Lastly, my mentor who taught me to eat the meat and spit out the bones was long-since-retired Boatswain’s Mate First Class Mulholland. She provided my first encounter with naval leadership and taught me many things not to do.
What are your expectations for Sailors who work for you?
My expectations for Sailors under my leadership are to maintain a high standard of excellence, and achieve results. My Sailors know I expect them to put forth and show off their best and to always push themselves. When you understand your Sailors' backgrounds, as a leader, you know what they are capable of, and the greatness inside of them; you know to what degree you can tap into their potential without pushing them over the edge.
What are some tips for Sailors in the supply enterprise?
Four tips I recommend for supply Sailors are:
What was your most enjoyable work station within the SH rating?
- Study, study, study. Sailors know I regularly ask exam questions. If you are sitting idle or looking at a phone, you have time to study a rating book. While advancements are challenging, if you stay focused and dedicate 30 to 60 minutes a day for study, you will see results and it will pay off.
- Network not only in your rate but within the supply department and the command. You never know who you might work for in the future. Supply is a family within a family; we take care of each other.
- Have an immediate and long-term battle plan. What is your two-year immediate plan for your career and family (if applicable) with or without the Navy? What is your five-year plan? Once you accomplish one goal on that plan, add another challenge or idea.
- Take advantage of tuition assistance. If that means taking online courses, Navy College Program for Afloat College Education, or instructor-based courses, do it. Don’t let this opportunity pass you by.
As a SH I can honestly say I did not have a favorite work station. I enjoyed the entire rating and what it has to offer, especially for networking with other crew members. I taught my SHs the definition of networking. However, one thing I didn’t look forward to was inventory.
Who was the most influential leading SH and sales officer you worked for?
Coming up through the ranks, you cross paths with some exceptional leadership with whom you build relationships and some come into your life for a reason. As a third-class petty officer, I was grateful to have SH1 Dwight Bell (LPO) in my corner as I faced some personal and professional challenges. He took a special interest in all of his SHs. He took care of his Sailors and treated us all like his own children; but he also held us accountable like the mature adults that we were. After serving in deck for about two-and-a-half years, my division on the USS Emory S. Land (AS 39) was the first in which I felt a part of something bigger and made a difference. So, during my challenges, I was not reprimanded or told to figure it out, but I was provided plenty of guidance and spoken to like a human being. I’m honored to have worked with SH1 Bell.
Although I trained several sales officers over the years, the quickest was Lt. j.g. Steave Phann. He was “sharp as a tack” and was excellent with numbers. As a prior chief, he knew the schedule of the military lifestyle. This was a “win-win” for everyone, especially when interacting with the supply officer, XO and CO. He was a breath of fresh air for me because his division engagement allowed me to step outside of S3 division as a chief petty officer. I was able to break out of the box in other areas within the command, allowing me to become competitive for senior chief. Thanks, sir, if you’re reading this.
While I served with plenty of well-educated and well-rounded supply officers, one in particular stood out: Capt. Pamela Theorgood. We served on the USS Bataan (LHD 5) together, and our tour was nothing less than perfection. The supply department achieved and excelled in so many benchmarks – when the department head, assistant supply officer, and departmental LCPO (DLCPO) are well-connected and walk as one, what else is to be expected? Supply Sailors were taken care of in so many areas, which reflected in their customer service to the crew and the command’s mission. “Supply” words that will always stay with me, which are also words to live by, are “trust but verify.” These were not only words that Theorgood echoed but also a testament to the leadership she displayed on a daily basis. Thanks Capt. Theorgood. It was a pleasure to be a part of your team and serve as your DLCPO!
What was your most rewarding tour?
My most rewarding tour was Afloat Training Group (ATG), Norfolk from 2009 to 2012. ATG restored my faith in the Navy. After completing an arduous, demanding sea tour on the USS Cole (DDG 67), I thought I was ready for retirement. Before submitting my Fleet Reserves retirement request, SHCM Eduardo Marcial sat me down for a long mentoring discussion. He convinced me to give ATG a chance, and if in a year I had not changed my mind, to then submit my paper work.
What helped you balance you and your career?
The gym balanced me throughout my career. Those who truly know me know I love to work out. This has helped me relieve plenty of unwanted stress. My body is physically paying for it right now.
What are you looking forward to in your next assignment?
It has been a pleasure and honor to serve in this United States Navy for 27 years, but my next assignment is CivLant. This community will welcome me after 30 years of honorable service.
Do you have any additional comments?
Stay connected and engaged with what is going on in the United States Navy. The Navy is consistently evolving and developing toward the future. Understand and know the policies and available programs; you never know when it may benefit you. If anyone ever needs a bit of mentoring or just an ear to listen, my door is always open. My motto is, “It’s not easy being in supply.” Hooyah!