About Ben Simonton

For more than 30 years, I held management positions where I was responsible for as few as 22 people and as many as 1,300. I started off at the Naval Academy, commanded several ships and after retiring from the Navy moved on to the electric power generation industry.

My last major assignment was with Con Edison, New York City’s electric utility company, as an executive in charge of 1,300 or more unionized employees overhauling electric generating station boilers, turbines and auxiliaries for fossil and nuclear stations. Prior to that, I was the Plant Manager of one of Con Edison’s large fossil powered electric generating stations. If you look East from Manhattan at the 59th street bridge, you’ll see a large power station just to the left. The big stack is Big Alice. We changed her over from oil to natural gas. What a beauty.

Before entering the civilian world, I was a career naval officer with 25 years of active duty, 20 of those years on surface combatant ships. I spent five of those years as Captain, first commanding a destroyer escort and then a nuclear-powered cruiser called the USS South Carolina. The other 15 years were spent in positions where I directed the operation and maintenance of nuclear power plants including the building and launch of the USS Nimitz aircraft carrier.

My final tour with the U.S. Navy was at the Pentagon where for two and a half years I helped direct approximately $3.5 billion annually to research, develop, acquire and support combat weapons systems for all surface ships.

As for my formal education, I am a graduate of the U.S. Naval Academy. I hold a Masters degree in Computer Systems Management and attended a one year nuclear power training program consisting of 6 months of classroom study in mathematics, nuclear physics, chemistry and nuclear plant systems, followed by 6 months of practical qualification at a nuclear powered prototype plant.

Beyond Things – People

Once I entered the U.S. Naval Academy, I set a goal for myself to develop expertise in leading large numbers of people. In pursuit of this goal, I read every leadership and management book I could find and studied the history of human accomplishments, the actions taken and the reasons for those actions. I also studied the disciplines dealing with the inner characteristics of human beings including sociology, psychology, psychiatry, the religions of the world and even how the human brain functions.

It was through years of study and practical experience that I developed, tested, modified and proved the efficacy of what I believe to be a superior set of skills and methods for leading people. It was this set of leadership tools that enabled me to turn around four different “disastrous” management situations, as described by the person hiring me. One was the nuclear-powered cruiser I commanded where the crew was ‘wrecking the ship.’ Another was the 1,300 person large unionized group in New York City I took over that was considered ‘a lost cause.’ Respectively, we ended up as the best ship in the fleet and with a rise in productivity per person of more than 300% over a four year period.

Now, when I say, “I developed, tested, modified and proved” the efficacy of this set of leadership skills and methods, I mean that there were years of trial and error with me making every mistake one can in terms of managing people, and many repeatedly. But I found solutions for my errors, stopped making any errors of significance and then trained my subordinate managers to lead in the same powerful way. My results were substantial and sustainable.

The final part of my credentials of note is that I am married to a woman who is a far better wife, partner, friend and counselor than any man could hope to have and we have two lovely daughters who have never failed to make us proud.

Next: How I Acquired My Leadership Skills

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