Hello everyone. I pray all is well as we fight through adversity from difficult times in our lives these past few years.
My name is Kenny Briggs. I have been a New Orleans/Baton Rouge Steamship Pilot (NOBRA) for the past five years. I would not have been able to obtain this opportunity if it were not for my faith and having great people in my life to help me out along the way. However, there is one individual that I would like to shine the spotlight on.
I am under the belief that you have to find your mentor; your mentor does not have to find you. Most of the time, if you are seeking a mentor, that person is probably admired by many, and time is of the essence for them. This is true of my mentor Captain Lee Jackson.
I met Captain Jackson at an APA (American Pilots Association) conference in Houston, Texas. We exchanged contacts, and I began to nourish a relationship with him. Captain Jackson has been a NOBRA pilot for 18 years. I felt connected to Captain Jackson right from the start.
He helped me navigate through the beginning of my career in the maritime industry by giving me advice on career advancement opportunities as well as showing me a great example of someone I could emulate in my life. In addition to being a pilot, Captain Jackson is also the CEO of Jackson Offshore and gave me an opportunity to work for his company.
This opportunity allowed me to gain a new experience, skill set, work ethic, and ship handling that a book at maritime school could not teach. In addition to the skills that I learned, I also was able to gain a level of respect from Captain Jackson. Captain Jackson organically became my mentor at this point, and our relationship continues to this very day.
When I was blessed enough to be accepted into the pilot development program, I struggled with the learning curve from being a mate to a training pilot on the Mississippi River. I remember countless days of coming home and calling Captain Jackson, voicing my frustrations to him.
He always picked up the phone and listened to my concerns. He gave me words of encouragement, and a few times, he had to provide me with some tough love to put me back on the right track.
After being commissioned to pilot vessels without a senior pilot on board, I received my first orders to pilot a ship alone from dispatch. I hung up the phone, took a deep breath, and my phone started ringing again. I looked at the phone, it was Lee Jackson--but this is the difference between a mentor and a great mentor-- he wanted to ride the first ship with me but reminded me on the way to the vessel that he would not be assisting me in any form or fashion. It was my show!
For a relationship to be productive, it has to have reciprocity. Captain Jackson, I thank you for investing your time into my life; your leadership has allowed me to grow as a mariner and as a man. One of your favorite scriptures is Luke 12:48, "To whom much is given, much will be required." I will pay this forward by mentoring young men with the same class and integrity that you have shared with me. Love you!