Anne Shybunko-Moore, chief executive officer and owner of GSE Dynamics Inc., a military contractor in Hauppauge, has gained a reputation over the years as a leading advocate for the manufacturing industry on Long Island. She joined the company in 2001 and became owner and CEO 16 years ago. The company was started by her father, Daniel, a Grumman engineer, in 1971. She serves on Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s Long Island Regional Economic Development Council and, in 2016, founded Ignite, the Manufacturing Consortium of Long Island.
You were once pretty much alone as a woman heading a defense company. Have things changed over the years? Absolutely. In the last 10 years, I’ve seen a sea change. Marilyn Hewson is CEO at Lockheed Martin. Eren Ozman is owner and president at Sierra Nevada Corp. But at the beginning, I had to prove myself. I had changed careers. I was in physical therapy before. Then I went into aerospace. I had to become more confident. I felt I needed to learn to have a stronger voice.
Do you see yourself as a leader for women? I never saw myself as a role model for women.
But women have come to see you that way? Well, because of the choices I made and the personal changes I made, suddenly people may see me as a role model. The young women within the industry look up to me. I try to steer them to science, technology, engineering, and math in schools.
How has GSE Dynamics done since you took over? When I first came to GSE in 2001, we had under $10 million in Defense Department contracts and we employed about 23 people. Today, we have close to $100 million in DOD contracts and we have 76 employees. Two years ago, we were ranked No. 10 in terms of small business volume by the Defense Department and ranked No 1 for woman-owned small business.
What accounts for that kind of growth? We have been very strategic in our work with the government and prime contractors. A few years ago, we entered the world of composites. We were ahead of the curve on that. We haven’t let metal work go, but there’s more composite work now than there was 10 to 15 years ago. The composites are more flexible and stronger.
What makes up the majority of your work? We are very much involved with the U.S. Air Force and the U.S. Navy. We deliver periscopes and antennas for Navy submarines. We also have contracts to build devices for Army tanks. All our work is military.
You play a very active role in promoting manufacturing on Long Island. How is it doing? There are 3,000 manufacturing companies here and 70,000 employees. These companies all say they could grow if they had more support from the state. Many trade organizations in the state are funded, but we have not been able to get our trade organization funded. It’s hard to get a solid answer as to why. We have an organization called Ignite. It’s an advocacy group. We’re helping companies with development and their workforces.
What do you think is one of the manufacturing industry’s main problems? Image. It needs a rebranding. We have to get parents of high school and college kids to see manufacturing is not back in the old days of putting bolts and rivets into metal. Today, it’s research and development, materials science. Things like that.
Are the schools in line with manufacturing today? They are not connecting with manufacturing companies. They are not connecting to the core competencies, to the work we are actually doing. I don’t think they teach the career pathways.
Is there a future for manufacturing on Long Island? There better be. Without it, this region cannot survive. We rely on manufacturing, tourism, and the health industry. All three face the same challenges and are impacted by the same issues. We need to get people to talk about coming to Long Island and staying here and working here. It is all a matter of branding ourselves.