Mentoring Stories - David (Duke) Snider

06 May 2021 Institute News

In the third in our series of Mentoring Stories, David Snider shares his experiences with mentoring throughout his career

I have had the good fortune to learn from many incredible mariners throughout my career.  The ones that stand out are those who took the time to mentor me on technical issues teaching, or providing career guidance.

Captain Fred Wedgewood was a man of talent and diplomacy.  On the bridge of a Coast Guard patrol ship at anchor over Christmas he provided me with the most valuable advice.  I was his Chief Officer, loved the job, the ship, the mission and of course the Captain.   In a pause in conversation, gazing out the bridge windows “Wedgy” turned to me, and surprisingly looked me in the eye and said, “Duke, time for you to move on.”  I was shocked.  Leave this ideal job?  “Yes,” he explained, “you can do this standing on your head, you need to grow, to be challenged.” 

He explained that he saw a hidden talent and that I should trust him.  “You need to go to the Mackenzie River, you have Arctic blood in your veins…remember what you told me about your father in the Arctic”.  He laid out his case which was logical, well thought out and profoundly prophetic.  He knew I was comfortable, too comfortable in my present position, that I needed something else.  At the time I thought him insane, or at least off track.  I was wrong.

At first, I tentatively followed his advice.  I requested an assignment at a junior level onboard a Mackenzie River/Arctic buoy tender.  Wedgy was spot on.  I took to river and ice navigation as if it were always part of me.  His advice set me onto a passion that has always ensured I am stretching myself, learning, improving and growing.  In the years since I have embraced mentorship both upwards and downwards, offering my time and experience and eagerly accepting it from others.