Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Working on the First Coast; A Navy Man's New Challenge Former Mayport Commander Now Runs BAE Systems Complex

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Working on the First Coast; A Navy Man's New Challenge Former Mayport Commander Now Runs BAE Systems Complex

Article excerpt

Byline: Drew Dixon

After three years of handling all the duties that come with being commanding officer of Mayport Naval Station, Aaron Bowman still finds himself immersed in the nautical business.

Shortly after retiring from a 32-year career in the U.S. Navy, Bowman was hired in March by BAE Systems on Heckscher Drive to serve as director of business operations at the sprawling 170-acre facility along the banks of the St. Johns River that specializes in ship building, repair and maintenance services. The complex used to the be the home of Atlantic Marine before BAE completed an acquisition in August, 2010. It was the latest acquisition for the company that has sites worldwide.

In addition to running the business operations, Bowman is also in charge of community outreach and compliance and ethics within the company's Jacksonville site. At the age of 50, the former military man who also piloted Navy jets said he welcomed the transition into civilian life.

Still, the BAE facility and Bowman maintain connections to the military after landing two contracts to service destroyers and cruisers based at Mayport. But the company services myriad other civilian ships, including, and maybe most notably, the St. Johns River Ferry Service vessel.

You've gone from running Mayport to a high executive position at BAE. Is that frying pan into the fire or is it a lot less stressful here?

It's still a learning process for me. They couldn't train you for five percent of what I came across every day [at Mayport]. That part is certainly different than running a naval station. I would say it's a little less of a stress level over here.

There are certain regulations in the military for everything you do. How much did that prepare you for entering the private, corporate world?

I would say BAE is, in some regards, like a military organization. Most of our business on a big BAE scale is supporting the military and the Department of Defense. ... It's very similar. But the biggest difference is that we [at BAE] care very much about making a profit.

As you know, BAE got ensnared in a very controversial situation. …

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