BCE Change of Command

BCE change of command 113, BCE Change of Command

Command of the Base Construction Engineering (BCE) branch changed hands July 11 when outgoing Commanding Officer Col Darlene Quinn said goodbye to colleagues and friends and LCol Matthew Johnsen took the reign.

After two years as Commanding Officer of Base Construction Engineering (BCE), Col Darlene Quinn stepped down July 11. Taking her place is LCol Matt Johnsen.

Below, Col Quinn reflects on her service at CE.

Describe the highlights of your time in this position.

I became Commanding Officer (CO) of the Base Construction Engineering Branch in July 2010.  On the technical side, some of the highlights have been growing our infrastructure maintenance program to a level that will make tangible inroads in improving the condition of our infrastructure, as well as seeing the progress of the major capital program.  

On the leadership side, without doubt my highlight has been watching the individual people in the Branch stretch themselves to new levels, take on new skills and responsibilities and fulfill every major challenge thrown their way.  

On a professional level, I have enjoyed broadening my infrastructure knowledge to include navy-specific infrastructure such as the jetties, the dry dock, and the oily waste water treatment plant.  In the past, I have served as BCEO for both the army and for the air force.  This has been my first experience with the navy and I have thoroughly enjoyed it.

What will you miss most about this post?

I will miss the pace of activity. Engineering at this level is exhilarating because it is such a fast paced and rapidly changing environment.

What is next for you?

I will be moving to Ottawa to take up the post of Director General Military Engineering (DGME). DGME is Associate Deputy Minister Infrastructure and Environment’s (ADM(IE) lead for capital construction, unexploded ordnance clearance and environmental projects. DGME provides strategic-level military engineering advice; exercises functional direction on fire protection; architecture and engineering; and monitors compliance.

What are you looking forward to with the new position?  

I am looking forward to bringing the experience I gained at CFB Esquimalt to the strategic level, where it can be used to inform some of the changes that are forecast for infrastructure over the next few years.

What knowledge or skills you have learned will you take to your new job?

I learned that when you have a talented cadre of people to work with, you need only give them your intent and they will deliver in spades.

What will you miss most about CFB Esquimalt?  

I will miss the day to day contact with the people. They are so willing to share their experiences and their knowledge and I never failed to learn something new from each interaction.

What advice would you give to the next CO of BCE?

My successor is LCol Matt Johnsen. While Matt and I have never had the pleasure of working together, the Canadian Military Engineer Branch is a small, tight group and so we have met a number of times over the years at various venues and locations. Matt has been a BCEO in the past at CFB Borden and comes to CFB Esquimalt with a wealth of infrastructure experience. He is already knowledgeable about the site, having been here as the BCE Executive Officer, departing in 2007.

I would advise him to take full advantage of the Department’s current focus on infrastructure to set Esquimalt up for success in the future. Being one of the largest bases in Canada, he will have the ability to try new things and to be innovative. I would say there are no boundaries, and what the BCE Branch can accomplish will be limited only by the imagination. I am completely at ease turning my Branch over to him as I know it will be in very good hands.

What do you hope that you left behind at BCE?

I hope I leave the people of BCE with the knowledge of what they can accomplish when they set their minds to it and work as a team. We have an incredible variety and breadth of skills at BCE, and everyone has their individual role to play in the success of the Branch.

What will people remember about you?  

I hope that people will remember that despite all the work, there will always be time to have fun.

What will you remember most about being CO of BCE?  

I will most remember the people. Not only is the Branch full of dedicated, technically competent people who share my passion for construction engineering, but they are also some of the most generous people I have had the pleasure to serve with. Despite a full workload, they contribute to an extremely active program of fundraising for charities, providing Christmas hampers for those less fortunate and for a number of years have raised funds to grant two bursaries to graduating high school students from Esquimalt who are entering the construction engineering field.

Shelley Lipke, Staff Writer

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