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October 2018

My Unforgettable Navy Experience – Lessons Learned

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Written and as experienced by: Maili Wong

I recently joined the Royal Canadian Navy as part of the Canadian Leaders at Sea (CLaS) program. I spent 4 days aboard a naval ship and it changed my perspective forever!

Picture this: 12 leading Canadian business women are invited to leave their stilettos at home and join the Canadian Navy aboard the HMCS Ottawa warship, stepping outside their comfort zones and into the foreign lifestyle of a military warrior. Some of my highlights included:

  • Sleeping in tri-level military bunk beds complete with seatbelts for rough seas
  • Surviving the rockiest night at sea, highlighted by 4 meter swells while sailing at 24 knots 100 miles offshore California to Esquimalt, BC
  • Participating in military surface firing exercises, Man Overboard exercises and “battle problem” demonstrations
  • Be-friending a Naval Tactical Operations Group Leader (i.e. “Navy Seal”) and taking a selfie with him while fully-loaded in military weaponry
  • Within 45 minutes of landing after the 4 day open sea adventure, cleaning up and dining at a formal reception at the official Government House in Victoria, with the British Columbia
  • Lieutenant-Governor Janet Austin, the senior Canadian Naval leadership and Commander of the Pacific Fleet

Would you believe it? Well, it happened, and I’m grateful to share with you the lessons I learned from this incredible life adventure. Upon reflection, this experience has helped me be a better mom, friend, leader and trusted strategic advisor to my clients, by enriching my perspective after “walking the walk” and after gaining a deeper understanding about how to help others find stability amidst turbulent situations. It has also helped me gain a new perspective on how to build a stronger and more deeply rooted foundation, upon which to build sustainable growth.

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