West Bethesda, Md. –
Naval Sea Systems Command (NAVSEA) offers leadership development for all levels of career growth through the Leadership Development Continuum (LDC) Programs. Two of these programs, the Next Generation Leadership (NextGen) Program and Journey Level Leadership (JLL) Program, collectively provide leadership opportunities to NAVSEA employees.
Seven graduates of the 2021-2022 leadership programs are Naval Surface Warfare Center (NSWC), Carderock Division employees. The following Carderock employees graduated from JLL: Timothy Hildebrandt, an acoustics engineer with the Radiated Noise and Decomposition Branch; Kristi Lamone, an acoustic engineer with the Submarine Onboard Signatures Branch; Meagan Parker, an engineer with the Vulnerability Assessment Branch; and Dr. Nicholas Reynolds, an engineer with the Hull Response and Protection Branch.
The following Carderock employees graduated from NextGen: Kimberly Garvin, a materials engineer with the Materials for Advanced Systems and Sensors Branch; Megan Lorey, an engineer with the Structures and Composites Performance Evaluation Branch; and Dr. Maya Nath, a materials engineer with Physical Metallurgy and Fire Protection Branch.
The NextGen program is open to GS-7 through GS-11 or equivalent civilian NAVSEA employees, with less than three years of experience. The program lasts two years and is administered with self-paced leadership courses, a five-day work shadowing and a final course seminar, which is held three times a year. The JLL program is open to GS-11 through GS-13 or equivalent civilian NAVSEA employees with three years of experience. It is a yearlong program with two weeks of leadership training, mentoring of NextGen participants by JLL members, a 90-day rotation anywhere in the enterprise, flash mentoring sessions and a final capstone project. The capstone is assigned a couple of months into the program and each capstone project is designed by a group within the program.
Hildebrandt and Reynolds’ capstone worked with NAVSEA Cyber Engineering and Digital Transformation Directorate, analyzing organization-wide information sharing strategies and ways to make the enterprise more efficient.
Reynolds thinks the JLL helped align his work with larger trends across the Navy while providing a better understanding of NAVSEA’s operations.
“From Carderock, we see the Navy doing very specific things, while NAVSEA has broader reach within the Navy,” he said. “In terms of professional development, it’s allowed me to peek over the fence and see everything NAVSEA is involved in.”
He also advises potential applicants to find a favorite element within NAVSEA’s strategic focus areas to gain knowledge on, such as digital transformation, building a team to compete and win and on-time delivery of ships’ and submarines’ weapon systems. He considers active communication critical for managing the workload.
“Have good working communication with people in your day-to-day projects and with your branch head,” he said. “JLL and the capstone project occupied a fair amount of my schedule over the course of the year I participated in the program, so make sure all expectations are met for both JIL and on-going projects.”
For Parker and Lamone’s capstone project, their team worked with NAVSEA Program Executive Office Integrated Warfare Systems to conduct the Wartime Acquisition and Sustainment Support Plan (WASSP) table top exercise. The JLL WASSP team was responsible for planning and conducting the fourth annual three-day table top exercise which focused on the five R’s (Refuel, Rearm, Resupply, Repair and Revive). The WASSP is a directive from the Assistant Secretary of the Navy.
For Lamone, her 90-day rotation at NAVSEA 00D Office of Corporate Communications under Rory O’Connor provided her professional growth. The rotation specifically focused on congressional affairs and public relations in general. During her time there, she gained valuable insight on how NAVSEA funding and spend plans are communicated to Congress and learned the importance of presenting content to gain audience buy-in.
“I’m excited to take the lessons I learned from the program to Carderock,” Lamone said. “I believe my briefs are going to be better and more concise. They will see that metaphorical big picture, and I will make sure that I communicated it efficiently and with the highest quality I can.”
According to Lamone, the flash mentoring sessions were a major benefit. These are hour-long virtual sessions on Microsoft Teams where students choose their mentor. She also advises future applicants to invest themselves heavily into the program.
“Devote as much time as you can to program,” she said. “If there is something in the program you are looking for, such as emotional intelligence, look for trainings and resources within the LDC program.”
As part of Garvin’s NextGen experience, she took several Harvard Business School leadership courses via Defense Acquisition University online, read and presented several chapters on leadership topics to her class, participated in mentoring with a JLL participant, attended guest lectures focused on imparting leadership knowledge and participated in job shadowing.
Garvin’s capstone project involved assessing NSWC Dahlgren Division and comparing the workplace culture pre-pandemic to its’ current state. This included researching the impact of mitigation strategies and the effects of extensive telework.
Garvin gained invaluable insight into what leadership truly means, which helped her realize what type of leader she wants to be. She also acquired tools to improve her communication expertise and learned key skills for developing in an innovative professional environment.
“As a professional, I can now recognize the characteristics I value in leadership: communication, trust, respect and open-mindedness,” she said. “I have a stronger understanding of the impact that I have in the workplace as part of the workforce and am more effective, as a result.”
Garvin suggests approaching every opportunity as a chance to develop skills and acquire new ones. She also advises applicants to start thinking about their career paths now and to find mentors early on.
“There is a lot of information and guidance provided to you if you have the willingness to accept,” she said.