News Release, NAVAIR
NAVAL AIR SYSTEMS COMMAND, PATUXENT RIVER, Md.–To become a leader, a person must thoughtfully balance business acumen and strategic relationships, according to Naval Air Technical Data and Engineering Service Command (NATEC) Deputy Director Rhonda Hunt. “When I mentor junior employees, my approach combines a strong preparation for leadership and an emphasis on opportunities to serve,” she said. “Both advance organizational goals.”
Hunt was recently named Naval Air Systems Command (NAVAIR) 2018 Mentor of the Year for NATEC. She has mentored 18 employees across three commands and her efforts resulted in a Fleet Readiness Center Southwest Business Office and a Naval Air Warfare Center Training Systems Division employee winning the Women of Color Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics “2018 Technology Rising Star” award. Hunt was one of six NAVAIR employees recognized by their organizations for this award.
Angela Ingram-Smith, an acquisition program analyst, credits Hunt for starting her career at Fleet Readiness Center Southwest. “She helped me identify my strengths and areas for improvement that were instrumental in creating my Individual Development Plan,” she said. “With her assistance, I explored career possibilities, received education training, participated in job shadowing opportunities, improved my resume writing skills, learned interview tips and set goals to follow.”
Most junior employees Hunt mentors have earned college degrees and are experts in their fields, but find navigating a career in civil service one of their biggest challenges, according to Hunt. “I advise them that relationships are the most important resource and strive to serve as an example of how to successfully build and maintain them,” she explained.
One such person is NATEC Distribution, Repositories and Sales Division Director and NAVAIR Leadership Development Program participant Jim Patricola who earned his master’s in business administration. He appreciates Hunt’s emphasis on developing communication skills, critical thinking skills and her willingness to leverage a vast network of influential leaders to find professional and personal growth opportunities for her mentees. “Every business organization is dependent on strong personal relationships to be both competitive and effective,” he said. “This includes relationships across the business groups and competencies that have been fostered over time through demonstrated leadership, mutual trust and professional excellence. Ms. Hunt’s expansive network of professional contacts both inside and outside the government provides mentees and life-long learners with opportunities we would not have otherwise.”
“Ms. Hunt advises all employees to always be prepared to present themselves with a strong voice and treat everyone with the respect and dignity they deserve,” Patricola said. “Rhonda teaches mentees to never assume that leadership at the senior headquarters level is aware of your contributions and performance excellence,” he explained. “We must each make it a priority to speak with senior leadership and tell our story whenever possible.”
Dexter Givens, Technical Data Management Specialist lead at NATEC Detachment Mid-Atlantic uses strategies Hunt taught him to hone his leadership approach. “Mrs. Hunt emphasized how vital communication and positive interaction are to each individual I come in contact with,” he said. “Her advice on interpersonal communication helped me be more outgoing, which improved the effectiveness of my communication with teammates, coworkers, NATEC leadership and other organizations responsible for management of technical data in the Department of Defense.”
Hunt’s dedication, knowledge and willingness to share inspired Ingram-Smith to serve others. “Ms. Hunt provided encouragement and boosted my self-confidence,” she said. “She taught me how to be the mentor I am today.”
Patricola was influenced by Hunt’s professionalism as well. “Ms. Hunt has shown us the value of paying forward with your time and emphasized our responsibility to mentor others when the opportunity arises,” he said. “She is a shining example for all to emulate.”