NAVAIR Leadership Development Program welcomes 80 Future Leaders

September 11, 2017

The tradition of NAVAIR’s Leadership Development Program (NLDP) is alive and well as the 2017 cohort begins their journey to expand their organizational knowledge and sharpen their business and leadership skills.

The newest cohort, comprised of 80 civilians and military members, has already taken part in the first of five classes: leadership orientation and foundational training. As the months, and years, progress, so will they — traveling to various NAVAIR locations and forming a close-knit team that will allow them to extend their professional and personal networks.

“I’m always excited when we select a new NLDP cohort and get them started in the program,” said Steve Cricchi, NAVAIR assistant commander for Corporate Operations and Total Force. “From day one of their very first class, the participants are developing their leadership capabilities, expanding their networks to accelerate collaboration and gaining a broader understanding of how the work they do — and NAVAIR in general — fits into the bigger picture.”

Revamped in 2013, NLDP is the command’s flagship leadership program designed to promote mentoring, job rotations, career planning, diversity, wellness, professional reading and networking. The three- to five-year program boasts more than 400 graduates from all NAVAIR locations.

Learning to see the big picture

“When we are in the thick of our jobs, completing everyday tasks, it’s easy to get so focused on our portion of supporting the fleet that we forget to look at the enterprise as a whole,” said Angela Bell, a current NLDP participant. “The ability to look at the organization in a global perspective helped me see the interdependencies of the various competencies and the contribution each makes to the naval aviation enterprise (NAE). It helped motivate me to look for areas of improvement and allowed me to understand who and what would be involved to enable change.”

Bell is working on her NLDP developmental assignment as the NAE sustainment vision 2020 In-Service Support Center Thread lead, a role she said she took on to help transform how business is done.

“Even in areas where we do things well, I think we can do things even better if we continue to question the status quo,” she said.

Senior Aerospace Engineer Theresa Shafer also said seeing the big picture improved her mindset that leadership and change can start with anyone.

“NLDP has changed my perspective in both visible and unexpected ways,” she said. “The new perspective helps me balance safety, capability and warfighter needs as I make engineering decisions.”

Sam Filali, also a senior aerospace engineer, said he tries to share and communicate NAVAIR’s vision and mission — and how it relates to current Department of Defense (DoD) policy — with his team members.

“Sometimes, with all the deadline pressures and funding constraints, people seem to forget about who they are supporting — the fleet — and focus more on very short-term objectives,” he explained. “If you remind your folks about the big picture and what is their impact on the fleet, you tend to get some positive change in attitude and more commitment and engagement.”

Discovering your personal leadership style

One unique aspect to NLDP is the participants’ chance to receive a personalized Emergenetics profile, which is a tool used to analyze individual thinking and behavioral attributes.

“I think, for me, the revelation happened when I discovered the results of my Emergenetics profile,” Filali said. “It was the first time for me to understand or grasp the concept of our unique makeup, which is the foundation of understanding yourself.  I think to be effective as a leader, you should have a strong emotional self-awareness and emotional intelligence. Because of this, I am more curious about people’s attributes and way of thinking, so I am more open to new ideas and welcome unique thoughts.”

“NLDP has made me look more closely at my own strengths and weaknesses, which effects how I interact with others,” Shafer agreed.

New selectees begin their journey

Selected from 229 applicants, many of the new cohort members said they are looking forward to the networking opportunities, the chance to expand their skills and the opportunity to further their careers.

Tracey Pintell-Quade, a senior information systems security manager, said she decided to apply to NLDP for “the opportunity to build strong relationships with folks in our cohort of highly motivated leaders.” She hopes to take those relationships and help lead NAVAIR to enhance the U.S. defense posture, she said.

Matthew Riggi, the deputy acquisition program manager for logistics in common support equipment, echoed Pintell-Quade’s sentiments.

“I believe in maximizing my opportunities by taking advantage of every career development program and learning experience NAVAIR and the DoD has to offer,” he said. “When you invest in yourself, unexpected opportunities arise.”

Bob Voelker, the deputy division head for information technology and cybersecurity, said he has long considered a career in DoD leadership to be a worthy goal.

“I enjoy the sense of duty and purpose accompanying the work,” he said. “Whether being or supporting the warfighter, I want to be a part of the mission, and I’m proud to be furthering that goal by participating in NLDP.”

Learn more about NAVAIR’s employee training and developmental programs.

Some of the newest members of the NAVAIR Leadership and Development Program gather at their first class, “Leadership Orientation and Foundational Training,” in Orlando, Fla., Aug. 24. Eighty employees were selected into the program to hone their business and leadership skills. (U.S. Navy photo)

Some of the newest members of the NAVAIR Leadership and Development Program gather at their first class, “Leadership Orientation and Foundational Training,” in Orlando, Fla., Aug. 24. Eighty employees were selected into the program to hone their business and leadership skills. (U.S. Navy photo)