Focus on Military Staff: MWO Andy Skinner, Training Wing Sergeant Major

25366 NCdt Mike Shewfelt recently had the chance to sit down with MWO Andy Skinner, the outgoing Training Wing Sergeant Major. 

e-Veritas: What expectations did you have upon being posted to the College…?

MWO Andy Skinner: Truth be told, I didn’t know much about RMC before coming here. I had known others who had worked as the “DSM” but our conversations rarely if ever led to their time at the College. On the Artillery side I had occasion to instruct OCdts when they were completing phase training but I did not pay attention to their background be it RMCC or Civy University. Our focus as AIGs (Assistant Instructors of Gunnery) was geared towards every candidate’s successful completion of the training.

All that being said my answer would have to be that I expected a challenge! I understood that I was moving out of my comfort zone and that there would be many obstacles along the way. I felt that if ever I really wanted to make a difference this would be my golden opportunity. It was either step-up, take a chance to be that difference maker or shut up and find a desk somewhere to hide behind.

e-Veritas: What highlights from your time at the College, both good and bad, stand out for you…?

MWO Andy Skinner: There are many highlights from my time here at the College. It has been, to say the least, an eye opening experience. On the positive side and at the top of the list would have to be the relationships that are built while dealing with the Cadet leadership, especially those filling the position of CWTO. It really gives you a good feeling when they stay in touch after graduation. It helps to keep us on task and motivated. Showing us we really can make a difference.

Of course all of that wouldn’t have been possible if the relationship with the DCdts wasn’t strong. I would like to take this opportunity to thank both at this time. To LCol Tony O’Keefe for starting me on the right path; he pointed me in the right direction and let me go! And of course to LCol Sue Wigg who made my last two years a very interesting time! We survived the race and have handed the baton off to others to take up the challenge in our place. Her passion and enthusiasm were infectious and she taught me to understand that even though we know a lot we know so little!

On the down side would be the need to wait to see results. The College is only the beginning of a very long voyage. I am also disappointed with the fact that I wasn’t able to leave my office, walk to the Dining Hall and not have to stop and correct some shortcoming or deficiency. I guess I will have to return in the future to accomplish my dream of making it there uninterrupted, sitting down with a group of OCdts sharing a meal and intellectual conversation.

e-Veritas: What do you like about working with the Cadets…?

MWO Andy Skinner: What did I like about working with the OCdts? Good question. Okay, let me think now….. uh. I would say weekends but rarely did we have any off! Just kidding!

I liked the fact that it was always a learning experience and the fact that their desire to learn is always present. (Of course in some it was buried pretty deep, like centre of the earth deep!) Okay I digress. I enjoyed the unbridled enthusiasm, the vigor of youth, the tenacity, especially when they were able to harness their energies and apply themselves to the task at hand. I like the fact that they are not perfect although they aspire to perfection. I liked making them think about things, providing them with the NCM perspective if you will, because if they are thinking about me or something I said then I have made a difference and maybe, just maybe they will reflect later in their lives and say…..OKAY I GET IT NOW!!

e-Veritas: What advice would you give the Cadets…?

MWO Andy Skinner: If I were to provide some advice, words of wisdom if you would, it would be to say that you should never accept that where you are at is where you need to be. What the heck is he saying!? Just that the world doesn’t stop turning and that if you decide to stop and admire the view you will quickly get left behind! That change is inevitable and happiness is fleeting.