Deep curiosity is the foundation of Mike Petters's leadership. Petters grew up on an orange farm in Florida and became a sailor. Armed with a degree in physics from the U.S. Naval Academy, he was a submariner on the USS George Bancroft before joining Newport News Shipbuilding. That was twenty-five years ago, and since then he has risen through the ranks as the company became part of Northrop Grumman, which emerges today as Huntington Ingalls Industries (HII), the world's largest shipbuilder.
Even though Petters leads a company of thirty-eight thousand people designing, constructing, and overhauling a variety of ships, including nuclear-powered submarines and aircraft carriers, he devotes ...