NORFOLK NAVAL SHIPYARD, Portsmouth, Va. –
Recently, Norfolk Naval Shipyard (NNSY) saw the selection of five individuals into the Naval Sea Systems Command (NAVSEA) Next Generation of Leadership (NEXTGEN) Program. The NEXTGEN program offers participants the chance to learn about leadership throughout several different initiatives over the course of a year. For Nuclear Welding Engineer (Code 138) Devante Ruffin, he said being selected for this career-building leadership platform within the enterprise is a great opportunity.
“As soon as I heard about this program and the opportunities it gave its participants, I actively sought out how I could apply and be accepted into its ranks,” said Ruffin. “I want to come out of this as a better leader and soak up as much information, techniques, tactics, methods, strategies, and advice as possible.”
A graduate of Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University (Virginia Tech), Ruffin joined the NNSY workforce in 2018. He first learned about NNSY after attending the Virginia Tech Engineering Expo Career Fair the fall semester after his graduation where NNSY representatives met with promising engineers looking for a future career in America’s Shipyard. “A good portion of my childhood and teenage years were spent not very far from NNSY,” he said. “I got the opportunity to be interviewed by someone who would become one of my current coworkers. In a few months I was called back about my interest in joining the shipyard and I accepted, moving back to the area to join the America’s Shipyard team.”
Ruffin’s role as Nuclear Welding Engineer consists of a range of responsibilities and services within the Welding Division, including his primary role of working on systems that support the reactor and its primary components.
He says he’s always looking for new ways to challenge himself and grow as an individual, seeking opportunities to further develop himself. “I like to take on new and exciting challenges on a daily basis,” said Ruffin. “I’ve taken on a few other responsibilities, including volunteering to become the Code 138 Lead Representative for Vision, Opportunity, Inclusion, Cause, and Execution, Diversity (VOICED) team. In the VOICED team, I help evaluate the DEOCS survey comments, evaluate the ongoing concerns of the workforce, and work on improvement plans to help address those areas of concern.”
Ruffin has also represented the shipyard at recruiting events at his alma mater. “It’s rewarding to help others, aiding them in their path towards their success. When I see the work I do positively impact someone or a project, it brings me so much gratification in knowing that I have the ability to make a difference.”
To his peers, Ruffin is a passionate worker who does his best every day. “Once he puts his mind on a project, no matter how challenging it may be, he will see it through to the end,” said Non-Nuclear Welding Engineer Bilal Khalid. “He always maintains professionalism for himself and the code and treats people the way he would like to be treated. That is, with respect, helpfulness, and being friendly, well-mannered and even-tempered.”
“Devante is known for getting newer team members involved and active within our code and is always willing to lend a hand,” said Nuclear Welding Engineer Jake Galant. “He is very passionate about the people of the shipyard and would like to see this shipyard grow as a family to become more successful as the years pass by. I think he will bring dedication, hard work, and fresh ideas to this NEXTGEN Program and inspire others to succeed as well.”
Nuclear Welding Engineer Mayank Awasthi added, “He is a professional, punctual, and focused engineer. Along with his strong work ethic skills and leadership qualities, I know Devante will contribute his knowledge, innovative ideas, and positive attitude throughout the NAVSEA Next Generation leadership program as well as to the enterprise at large scale.”
Though the COVID-19 pandemic forced the NEXTGEN Program to adapt to a mostly virtual environment, Ruffin is excited for the opportunities to connect with others and learn from his peers across the enterprise. “Being part of the NAVSEA NEXTGEN Program means I have a chance to grow personally and professionally through the entirety of the program. Continuous improvement is something I hold dear to my heart and I’m always trying to improve myself in any aspect of my life. Having the advantage of seeing and learning what it takes to be a great leader and representative of the NAVSEA Enterprise firsthand is something that I don’t plan on missing out on. This program is a foundational building block of my personal journey into becoming the next great leader. I’m excited for what’s to come!”