Four Naval Surface Warfare Center (NSWC), Carderock Division employees graduated from the Naval Sea Systems (NAVSEA) Next Generation Leadership Program on January 19.
The graduation was streamed live via Microsoft Teams, with Vice Adm. William Galinis, the Commander at NAVSEA, and Giao Phan, the Executive Director at NAVSEA Command, presiding.
The NAVSEA Next Generation Leadership Program, a year-long program, is the first in the three-step NAVSEA Leadership Development Continuum. The Continuum allows employees to focus on leadership development through various stages of their careers, in preparation for future opportunities within the organization. The other two stages consist of the Journey Level Leaders (JLL) Program, as well as the Commander’s Executive Fellows Program.
Being the first in the Continuum, the Next Generation Leadership Program focuses on entry-level NAVSEA employees within their first five years of employment, who are looking to take on more leadership roles at NAVSEA.
The program consisted of nearly 50 individuals from across NAVSEA, and was split into seven different groups. Each group were assigned a mentor, and given several assignments to be completed throughout the year, including online leadership courses through the Defense Acquisition University, reading and examining two leadership-centric books, hosting a leader within NAVSEA as a guest speaker and a final group capstone project.
Dr. Kylee Fazende, the Corrosion Control Assistance Team Deputy Project Engineer in the Corrosion and Coatings Engineering Branch; Alexis Douglas-Hargro, Deputy of the Supply Branch; Gabriel Upton, a structural composites engineer in the Structural Composites Branch; and Akeel Channer, a materials engineer in the Additive Manufacturing Branch were among the Carderock participants.
For the final project, each group was assigned a different naval installation, and were tasked with doing surveys and conducting interviews to gather information on the culture at these installations, and how they align themselves with the NAVSEA Campaign Plan 3.0. The two main focuses were to determine the workforce perception of culture, as well as finding out the cultural perception of the Navy’s leaders and supervisors.
“This has been a great experience seeing the different ways people do things across the Navy — we all view the Navy’s mission differently,” Fazende said. “It was refreshing to interact with people who aren’t science, technology, engineering or mathematics (STEM) – type technical people, and it has been a good reminder that there are other parts of the Navy than what you specifically work on. It helped us visualize how big the Navy really is, and how what we do fits into the larger picture.”
Fazende’s group was assigned to Supervisor of Shipbuilding (SUPSHIP), Conversion and Repair in Bath, Maine.
“During our group work, we talked a lot about integrity and honor, and having trust with your employees,” Fazende said. “It was really enlightening. Some people take doing the right thing for granted, but as a supervisor you have to be able to trust employees to do the right thing and have integrity.”
For the mentors, each participant was assigned an individual participating in the 2021 JLL Program. Coincidentally, Fazende, along with Channer, were both assigned Dr. Matthew Draper, a metallurgist in Carderock’s Physical Metallurgy and Fire Branch.
“This was as much for the JLL participants as it was for us,” Fazende said. “Part of their development was to build up to being supervisors and leaders where they have people under them that they mentor. Having Matt as our mentor is great, and we learned quite a bit from him. He showed us the importance of planning out our career goals over the next five years. The main takeaway I have is that you don’t always have to stick to your plan, but if you have a plan it is a lot easier to pivot from rather than going blind without a plan.”
Channer, who was also mentored by Draper, was assigned to SUPSHIP Conversion and Repair in Groton, Connecticut.
“It was definitely a great experience to be able to go up there and check out the work that they do,” Channer said. “It is a smaller activity, with only about 450 employees. I immediately noticed that they have an advantage since it is so small, which made it more personable. Everyone was nice and inviting and super helpful in any way they could be of assistance. I would describe their activity as a family culture.”
Douglas-Hargro spent her portion of the final capstone project at NSWC Crane Division in Indiana.
“You can have such a singular experience at your command, but going to see how other Warfare Centers are doing business is eye-opening,” she said. “This type of experience gives you a new perspective of organizational culture. I was excited to bring that valuable insight back to the command and share it with my colleagues.”
Douglas-Hargro and her group at Crane, were provided the opportunity to meet with the command and senior leadership in order to learn about their culture.
“We went through a number of interviews, and in a week’s time, we were able to understand their culture and strategic framework principles,” she said. “We were able to see what works for them and areas for improvement. Her appointed advisor is a champion of “fearless feedback”, a concept she says is, “transformative”. The main takeaway is that permeates through what we do — our values, beliefs, and motivations. At the beginning of this experience, we were unaware of just how much culture is embedded in our day-to-day. I am encouraged to continue cultivating a positive one.”
For Upton, like Channer, he was provided the opportunity to experience life at a smaller naval installation, going to the Southeast Regional Maintenance Center (SRMC) in Mayport, Florida.
“My group’s overall consensus at SRMC was that, because of their smaller size, communications are able to flow quite freely between leadership and enlisted and civilian personnel,” Upton said. “They seemed really proud of the work they do, especially their ability to provide combat power on time, and making sure ships get in and out as quickly as possible. Their leadership wants to keep open communication, which seems to work well for them due to their smaller size.”
Each of the four Carderock employees were successful in completing their program. They seem grateful for the opportunity to not only see what life is like at other naval installations, but for the ability to bring the knowledge gained back to Carderock to enhance the culture in their everyday lives.
The groups presented the results of their final capstone project to Galinis and Pham on January 18, which was followed by an official graduation on January 19.