The dictionary definition of leadership is, “the capacity to lead, or the act or an instance of leading”.
Yet to Sector St. Petersburg, Fla., crewmembers, the definition of leadership means much more. That was highlighted when Petty Officer 1st Class Joshua Figueredo, a storekeeper, was awarded the Douglas A. Munro Award for Inspirational Leadership.
Stellar candidates from across the Coast Guard compete against one another for the distinction of earning the award, so it came as a bit of a surprise to Figueredo when he was selected.
“It was mind blowing,” he said. “First, I was in shock, it was surreal. I felt so honored to receive such an extraordinary award representing my leadership.”
The award is presented to an enlisted member who has demonstrated outstanding leadership and professional competence. Only two storekeepers have earned the prestigious award.
“Figueredo truly embodies the spirit of Signalman First Class Douglas Munro, “said Cmdr. Bruce Brown, supply and logistics department head at Sector St. Petersburg. “Therefore, recognizing him with this serves its namesake proudly.”
What made the award a bit sweeter involves a bit of history. Enlisted members in a support function face tough competition for the award, so it somewhat rare to see those working in a support function emerges as winners. In 1993, the winner was Brown, a storekeeper serving aboard the Coast Guard Cutter Storis.
Recognizing Figueredo’s special blend of knowledge, leadership, adherence to Coast Guard core values, strong work ethics and a sense of commitment, Brown saw an emerging leader early on. Yet during his time at the sector, he said Figueredo distinguished himself.
Figueredo established a reputation for going above and beyond the call of duty even as he came to Sector following an afloat independent duty tour. He previously served as contracting officer at two previous units, so he was a both a natural leader, as well as highly experienced with a well rounded and diverse assignment history. At Sector St. Petersburg, he earned high marks as a hard worker. Yet along the way, Brown said he was also struck by Figueredo’s uncommon set of leadership skills, coupled with a fierce dedication to details, logistics and doing the job well.
“Not satisfied with simply doing an absolutely stellar job, Figueredo took the time to train and mentor junior personnel and customers in Coast Guard accounting, procurement, purchasing and the Chief Financial Officer Audit Act,” said Brown. “Using his vast knowledge and experience, he directly and indirectly trained subordinates on leadership and rate related topics resulting in the successful advancement of one storekeeper to the next higher pay grade and the designation of three members to the storekeeper rating.”
Figueredo showed his mettle when he stepped up to assume even more duties within his shop. He filled gaps created by early retirement of the chief warrant officer and detachment of the storekeeper master chief from primary duties as assistant supply officer. According to the Munro award, Figueredo flawlessly provided supply and logistical support to the sector, 16 operational subordinate and tenant commands, capably serving as both contracting officer and sector supply officer.
“I said to myself, I know the job, so there is no reason I shouldn’t take on these duties," said Figueredo. “I feel like I did what needed to be done to ensure the sector, units and people were taken care of. I didn’t feel like I was doing anything extraordinary. It’s my job.”
“I was 100 percent confident in his abilities to effectively run the division, which left me to concentrate on a myriad of other logistics issues,” said Brown.
Those responsibilities are normally undertaken by a highly seasoned finance and supply chief warrant officer, which is exactly the goal Figueredo has set for himself.
“I’m aspiring to be a supply officer,” said Figueredo. "This job I’m doing now, and being the Sector's contracting officer during the Republican National Convention has given me the knowledge I need to reach that goal."
Serving as the sector’s contracting officer during the RNC, his efforts ensured continuous and smooth operations for the sector and crews working the event. His work included coordination and approval of orders worth more than $165 million, including critical supplies and services. Those spanned the range from leased trailers for operational support as the security needs of the sector grew during an event of national and special significance, to include generators, vehicles, T-1 communications lines and fuel delivery services.
While that may not sound exciting to some, it means Figueredo’s hard work and leadership ensured the Maritime Operations Center would be fully mission capable to support around the clock operations. Given the influx of high profile visitors to Tampa, and the critical need to ensure the safety and security of the convention delegates as a hurricane bore down on Florida’s major ports; his work was instrumental in the success of the operational support provided by the Coast Guard. As the lead maritime agency with the world’s eyes upon Sector St. Petersburg’s area of responsibility, the supply and logistics role was a vital component of successful operations.
Working as the contracting officer, Figueredo capably negotiated a $90 million agreement, providing safe and affordable lodging for Coast Guard personnel, ensuring they were co-located with maritime law enforcement partners. His efforts yielded a cost savings of more than $45 million.
“The RNC was a challenging event, and it was my job as the sole contracting officer to ensure the supply department ran smooth and the sector shined through,” said Figueredo.
Always quick to highlight the work of others, Figueredo, who also leads the supply shop, credits his team with a successful mission.
“If it wasn’t for our team efforts and the dedication of my crew, we wouldn’t have had a successful operation. They are my inspiration to be the best leader I can be.”
A first generation Cuban American, he is a married and the father of two young boys. He’s is well known for his sense of humor and his fastidious work habits. According to Brown, Figueredo is also noteworthy for his ability to inspire his crew.
Advancement by one pay grade accompanied the Munro award, and he was advanced to the pay grade of E-7 during the annual Navy League of the United States National Convention held in Las Angeles June 22, 2013.
“Figueredo truly embodies the spirit of this award, and I'm incredibly proud and honored, as both as his department head and as a former Munro Award winner, to serve with him, said Brown. “I look forward to watching his future success in the Coast Guard.”