News Release, NAVAIR

NAVAL AIR WARFARE CENTER AIRCRAFT DIVISION, PATUXENT RIVER, Md.--Acquisition professionals in the program management (PM) career field must possess a varied and diverse skill set with experience in a broad range of functional areas in order to be effective in their positions and advance in their careers.  “Planning a career in PM is challenging because there is no one prescribed path to success” said Mr. Gary Kurtz, Assistant Commander for Acquisition, AIR-1.0.  Working for each program will pose a unique set of circumstances and opportunities to learn and apply new skills, he said.

The fundamental responsibility of a PM professional is to balance the many factors that influence cost,

schedule, and performance as they develop, plan, and execute projects to satisfy domestic and international program customer requirements across the full system life cycle. Furthermore, PM professionals interpret and tailor the application of the DoD 5000 series regulations that support the overall Defense Acquisition System. Developing skill sets such as these require a combination of varied experience, formal training, and having a robust combination of mentor-mentee relationships.

In the past, much of the PM workforce’s learning and development was a product of their particular circumstances, such as what programs individuals were assigned to, the amount of time mentors were willing to invest in teaching them, and trial-and-error. This resulted in a great deal of variability in the knowledge base and skill set each PM professional possessed. With the advent of Naval Air Systems Command University’s (NAVAIRU) College of Program Management (CPM), this variability has been reduced.“The CPM ensures all PM workforce members have access to the same foundational learning” said Mr. Gary Kurtz, also Dean of NAVAIRU’s CPM. Ultimately, standardizing our training programs will enhance the PM knowledge base across NAVAIR and better position our future PM leaders to meet the ever-changing challenges while continuing to deliver capability to the fleet, he said. While not everyone will be on a career path that leads to Senior Executive Service, there is abundant opportunity to grow at each level of the PM profession.

Mr. Gary Kurtz, Assistant Commander for Acquisition, speaks at a recent PM career field event, “Lunch with a Leader”.

In furtherance of building our PM professional community, a collaboration was formed between a joint SYSCOM team comprised of Naval Sea Systems Command (NAVSEA), NAVAIR, Space and Naval War Systems Command (SPAWAR) and Marine Corps Systems Command (MARCOR) to create the first edition PM Career Field Guidebook. The goal of this career field guidebook is to assist employees in managing a successful career in PM through thoughtful planning throughout the life of their careers, and to assist employees in other career fields to successfully transition into the PM career field.

For background, NAVAIR has more than 1,900 Acquisition professionals in the PM career field, and several thousand employees across the other career fields. Senior leadership within the NAVAIR PM community recognizes that there is no single, prescriptive path to PM career success, and that professional growth and development can (and should) occur through varied pathways and diverse learning opportunities. This career field guidebook serves as a great foundational starting point for both current PM employees and those intending to transition into the PM career field.

“Current and future PM employees can use this guidebook to assess, develop, and manage knowledge, skills, abilities, attributes, behaviors and experiences to achieve a rewarding and successful career” said Joe Wible, Director of Acquisition Workforce Development and Training, (AIR-1.5). The PM career field guidebook can be used to assist in developing Individual Development Plans (IDP), as well as to steer meaningful career discussions with supervisors and mentors.

This guidebook has been issued across all SYSCOMs. As the PM community explores and uses it, feedback is welcomed. The joint SYSCOM team will be reviewing and incorporating feedback to issue a 2nd edition early next calendar year. Feedback is requested to be sent to the following e-mail

To access the PM Career Guidebook, please go to:

For more information about NAVAIRU’s College of Program Management, please go to

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David M. Higgins II, Publisher/Editor

David M. Higgins was born in Baltimore and grew up in Southern Maryland. He has had a passion for journalism since high school. After spending many years in the Hospitality Industry he began working in...