Stephen P. Keller is a self-employed Manufacturer’s Rep. starting Keller Maritime Associates in 2005 when he moved to California. He is Past Chairman of the New York Metropolitan Section, Society of Naval Architects and Marine Engineers (SNAME) and Past President, Sacramento Area Section, CWEA.
What do you believe is the future of the water profession?
The water profession is essential to society, and has a lot of growth potential, for people at all levels.
How did you get involved in the water sector?
I enlisted in U.S. Naval Reserve while in college and reached Third Class Quartermaster (Navigation Rating). I attended Officer Candidate School (OCS) during college summers when I earned my B.S. in Biology. I was commissioned on Active Duty, and reached rank of Lieutenant, serving at sea & ashore, worldwide. I started out as a supplier of safety and environment protection service & equipment in the commercial marine industry where I supplied a pipe protection and repair product that started in the marine industry. I then moved into public utilities. At the suggestion of another Manufacturer’s Rep., I joined CWEA soon after my move to California.
Are/were there any similarities in the water sector that you encountered while in service?
In the Navy, there are many similarities to organizations where CWEA members work. A ship is a city. There are systems for: desalination for potable water; wastewater systems; firefighting systems; HVAC, electricity generation, etc. All the services have Civil Engineer Corps, which do all kinds of construction, often under adverse conditions.
Which of your military skills are really helpful for your job?
The military requires teamwork, responsibility and accountability. It is the only segment of American society where 18 year-olds are treated as adults. As a Seaman and Petty Officer, I had to get myself here & there, and handle essential functions.
As a Commissioned Officer, I was a manager and had to get other people here & there. It was being a project manager. While standing watch at sea, I was responsible for people’s lives.
What would be your advice to veterans to get them to join the sector?
As a method of outreach to the military community, I recommend the CWEA, and utility districts take out ads in Navy Times, Army Times, etc. You will attract quality people. The military is selective. 70% of men of military age today would be rejected for military service as soon as they walked in the door. Men and women of the same rank are paid the same, and do the same jobs.