HEADQUARTERS, NAVAL AIR SYSTEMS COMMAND, PATUXENT RIVER, Md.– Two hundred nineteen NAVAIR civilians and military members graduated recently from the NAVAIR Leadership Development Program (NLDP) and Journey Leadership Development Program (JLDP).
“These programs have challenged you to get out of your comfort zone and put you on the path to be NAVAIR’s future leaders,” said acting NAVAIR Deputy Commander Jerry Short at a virtual graduation ceremony on Oct. 7. “We’ll look to you to answer Vice Adm. [Carl] Chebi’s call to action to apply our resources to the most important issues facing naval aviation and our Navy today: speed, affordability, availability, and outcomes. We must deliver the critical capabilities and readiness our fleet needs, and we must continuously look for should-cost opportunities across the acquisition life cycle. The networks you’ve started to grow in NLDP and JLDP will help you identify those opportunities and overcome obstacles to achieve mission success.”
Administered by NAVAIR’s Career Planning and Development Division, a part of the Human Capital Management Dept., both programs help prepare mid- to senior-grade employees at all NAVAIR sites to learn and master leadership skills more effectively. Over the course of several years, participants take classroom-based leadership development courses and online training, shadow senior leaders, find a mentor and engage in professional reading, among other things.
One of the classes focuses on Emergenetics — a measurable way to recognize and apply the thinking and behavior patterns people use regularly at work and in their communication and interpersonal relationships — which several graduates said they benefited from.
“Emotional intelligence is so powerful,” said JLDP graduate Katie Bailey of the NAVAIR Comptroller Office. “It provides the backbone to understanding the way to strengthen team building, productivity, morale, and more. Whatever model each individual or team you work with follows, emotional intelligence affords leaders the ability to understand other people, what motivates them, and how to work cooperatively with them. It often leads to better business outcomes, happier employees, and more productive teams.”
NLDP graduate Kelly Davis of the V-22 Strategic Planning Dept. said Emergenetics helped her understand her behavioral and thinking attributes so she could capitalize on her strengths and build on her weaknesses.
“Emotional intelligence helps me with my personal competence and social competence and ties it back to my results from Emergenetics,” Davis said.
And Jackie Heiner, assistant program manager for Unmanned Air Systems Logistics from the PMA-266 U.S. Marine Corps Group in the NAWCAD Systems Acquisition Group, said Emergenetics was eye-opening.
“I wouldn’t say I was surprised by my profile, but seeing it on paper and understanding my preferences was enlightening,” she said. “Really taking a moment to realize that not everyone has the same thinking preference as myself — that was a blind spot.”
Graduates of both programs said networking is invaluable. Participants travel to different sites and take classes together, mixing with and meeting co-workers they might not normally.
“We can often become containerized within our different codes,” said JLDP graduate John Newton, a contracting officer’s representative, and deputy maintenance/material control officer at VX-31. “Branching out, networking, and using each other across the grand NAVAIR scope will make us more effective.”
Beth Foster, Optimized Organizational Maintenance Activity baseline manager for the H-1 Fleet Support Team, agreed.
“Being located at Cherry Point, we are disconnected from the program officers, and JLDP gave me a chance to network into different areas,” she said.
Heiner said the networking via NLDP is inestimable. “You are surrounded by motivated and passionate leaders who are all striving to become better leaders of people,” she said.
Shadowing senior leaders is another key aspect of the programs.
“My favorite part of the NLDP is the opportunity to shadow senior leaders to gain insight into their personal career journeys, leadership styles, and their sincere advocacy for mentorship, career development, and life-long learning,” said Supervisory Logistics Management Specialist James Patricola. “This validates and furthers my sincere desire to pay forward and lead and mentor our future federal workforce. Great leaders are supportive of shadow opportunities, rotational assignments, or mentoring.”
As a result of their participation in the programs, the graduates have gone on to apply their skills and lessons to their daily jobs.
Matthew Forrestal, an NLDP graduate who serves as the Lakehurst Digital Division enterprise architect, founded the Lakehurst Data and Cyber Analytics Branch as a result of the knowledge he learned in NLDP and the networking connections he forged.
“It [NLDP] helped me believe that it was possible, as opposed to leaving things as they always had been,” Forrestal said.
“Career development never ends,” said Michael Szczerbinski, the NAWCWD Airborne Electronic Attack Integrated Product Team Deputy Lead. After a 25+ year career as a military officer, he was worried about transitioning to a civilian career.
“NLDP showed me the future paths to learn, apply and execute more,” he said. He is an active mentor and now works as a civilian leader to influence and lead others. “I knew to grow and serve better, I had to expand to advanced leadership concepts more applicable to a civilian, professional environment.”
Aerospace Engineer Laura Welch said since graduating from JLDP, she has learned to make her work environment more inclusive and how to foster better communication.
“This program has helped us understand each other’s personality better and how to use that to better communicate,” Welch explained. “The program has also helped with networking and putting Naval Air Station Whidbey Island on the map, as many people don’t know we exist up here on an island.”
Some graduates have even expounded on their lessons outside of work.
“I was surprised how the training in JLDP not only helped me professionally but also personally,” said Logistics Management Specialist Elena Sarno, a JLDP graduate. “While being a new mom, I had to learn work-life balance, and taking these courses really helped me with that.”
LeAnne Mason, a supervisory financial management analyst, and NLDP graduate said her favorite lesson was leveraging diversity to manage across generational differences.
“Not only have I been able to apply this at work, but I have also applied this lesson in my personal life while volunteering in the community servicing different age groups,” she said.
For Wynette Perry, a JLDP graduate and logistics management specialist, the program was just plain fun.
“Many of the virtual classes were fun,” she said. “We laughed a lot, shared stories, and learned from each other as well as the instructors. Also, learning about myself was interesting. I didn’t know that there were going to be classes that would teach me about me.”
NLDP and JLDP were founded in 2008 and 2012, respectively, as part of NAVAIR’s Leadership Development Continuum to cultivate a community of leaders at all levels. For more on NAVAIR’s career development initiatives, visit https://jobs.navair.navy.mil/training