Two sailors in a class of their own

CPO2 Robert (Sean) Wilcox and CPO2 Andre Aubry
CPO2 Robert (Sean) Wilcox, left, and CPO2 Andre Aubry congratulate each other upon receiving their Master’s degrees from Royal Roads University

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By Peter Mallett

Two sailors celebrated an academic feat when they graduated from Royal Roads University in Victoria recently, each with their Master’s degree.

Donning their dress uniform with graduation cap and gown, the two Royal Canadian Navy Marine Technicians were the only non-commissioned members (NCMs) in their graduating class at the June 12, 2018 convocation ceremony.

Chief Petty Officer 2nd Class Andre Aubry, who works as a career manager at National Defence Headquarters in Ottawa, stepped up to the podium and received his diploma, a Master’s in Leadership. His classmate, CPO2 Robert (Sean) Wilcox, who works in Ottawa as a Naval Signature Management and Survivability Chief, was honoured twice: receiving his Master’s in International Leadership and the Royal Roads Founders’ Award for Leadership.

Both men were low-key about the uniqueness of their accomplishment – a level of academic achievement normally achieved by officers.

“We aren’t the first, nor will we be the last, NCMs in the Canadian Armed Forces (CAF) to receive a Master’s degree, but yes, this is certainly rare,” says CPO2 Aubry, who has been in the military for 20 years. “Working towards this has been an incredible benefit to my career, but also for my personal growth.”

Both indicated their road to higher learning came with a huge time commitment. Their programs each took approximately 30 months to complete on top of their full-time job requirements. Each sailor estimated spending between 30 to 40 hours a week attending lectures, studying and writing assignments.

CPO2 Aubry says he is looking forward to applying what he learned, and the implementation his thesis The Tactical to Strategic Petty Officer 1st Class/Warrant Officer and CPO2/Master Warrant Officer of the CAF. His research looked at how to effectively transition senior NCMs from the tactical to the strategic level.

He adds that “part of the implementation of this project will enable future senior NCMs a complete strategic outlook in order for them to make the best decisions for the organization and people they serve and lead collaboratively.”

CPO2 Wilcox has been a CAF member for over 22 years and focused his studies on developing liaisons with foreign governments that included a residency project in Ecuador. His thesis Institutional Mentorship and How it Can Advance the Position of Women within the Profession of Arms and was sponsored by Ecuador’s military.

“Accomplishing this program has opened my eyes to a global perspective [of the military] which falls in line with the strategic aspect of the forces versus the tactical aspect,” said CPO2 Wilcox. “It really means being able to see the forces as a whole and how we fit into the world instead of just how we fit into Canadian Forces Base Halifax or Esquimalt, for example.”

The Ecuadorian military has set out to achieve gender equity and therefore embraced the opportunity to work with CPO2 Wilcox. He spent a lot of time in Ecuador touring military bases and academies, and speaking about the increasing influence of women in Canada’s military, while learning about the gender inequities that exist in their society.

Pending CAF approval, he is hoping to return to Ecuador at some point later this year, along with a team of Canadian military personnel who will form a working group that will work towards the establishment of a leadership institute.

To further that effort, CPO2 Wilcox says he wants to continue his studies at Royal Roads. He is waiting for CAF approval and university funding that will enable him to work towards his PhD in International Leadership.

Article courtesy of Lookout

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