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NEWS | May 20, 2021


By Kristi Britt, Public Affairs Specialist Norfolk Naval Shipyard

Recently Norfolk Naval Shipyard (NNSY) saw the selection of five individuals into the Naval Sea Systems Command (NAVSEA) Next Generation of Leadership (NextGen) Program, which offers participants the chance to learn about leadership throughout several different initiatives for a year.

For Advanced Planning and Contract Specification Branch (Code 222) Engineering Technician Justin Smith, being selected for the program is a huge opportunity to learn and a “quest of knowledge” he looks forward to taking.

 “For me I want to use this opportunity to utilize the resources the program affords us. I want to learn all I can and see how I can better myself as an individual in my career,” said Smith. “It all starts with understanding NAVSEA as a whole, the complexities of the organization, and specifically our integral role here at NNSY. It’s easy to focus on your job and lose sight of the big picture. NextGen will force me to keep the big picture at the forefront of my mind as the coursework involves assessment, experiential learning and individual development opportunities. I couldn't pass up on an opportunity that empowers me to broaden my horizons; you don't get many of those later in life, especially while on the clock.”

A graduate of Longwood University, Smith began his career at NNSY seven years ago when he entered the apprentice program in the Pipefitter Shop (Shop 56). He eventually found a fit in Process Controls Division - Cost Engineering (Code 222) where his responsibilities included creating and developing advanced planning technical document (E-Specs) for related contractor work, as well as cost estimates and material procurement among other duties.

Smith learned of the NextGen program from his mentor, Code 222 Advance Planning Manager Jeffery B. Williams, who encouraged him to apply. “Mr. Smith is an asset to NNSY and the NextGen program. He continually contributes to the shipyard’s mission through his exceptional work ethic, positive attitude, and never-ending focus on teamwork. My hope is that Mr. Smith will gain a practical understanding and firsthand comprehension of the various processes, people and programs involved in NAVSEA. In turn, he can apply the knowledge gained to advance his career and become a next generation leader.” 

Smith noted that it is thanks to mentors, like Williams and others who have helped him in his career, that he was able to take this next step. “I can think of many seasoned mechanics I’ve learned from along the way. They taught me as much about life lessons as the trade,” said Smith. “I hope all those guys know I was always listening even if I didn’t always want to hear it. But anyone to come out of Shop 56 in the last decade plus who had an opportunity to learn from Randy Thurman was very fortunate. There is something infectious about his passion for the trade, his enthusiasm as a mentor and a teacher. Randy is one of the best teachers/mentors I have ever had, and it is no coincidence that most anyone to come out of Shop 56 CTD (Continuous and Training Development) who had him would tell you the same. I can’t duplicate Randy, but what he taught me is that if I can get to a fraction of his enthusiasm as a mentor, then my mentees will eagerly follow my lead.”