Six NAVAIR employees graduated from the DoN Senior Leadership Program


HEADQUARTERS, NAVAL AIR SYSTEMS COMMAND, PATUXENT RIVER, Md.– Six Naval Air Systems Command (NAVAIR) employees graduated from the Department of the Navy (DoN) Bridging the Gap leadership development program in a virtual ceremony April 6.

Now in its ninth year, the 11-month program serves as a conduit to prepare high-potential individuals for leadership positions by connecting them with the necessary leadership skills, knowledge and competencies. The program is sponsored by the Executive Diversity Advisory Council and the DoN Executive Management Program Office.

Justin Francis, Deputy Director of the Program Executive Office Procurement Group for PEO(T) Tactical Aircraft Programs; and Venkatesan Manivannan, Head of Advanced Technology (Digital), have completed the program to compete for positions within the Senior Executive Service (SES). Francis aspires to take on a managerial position within the supply group. Manivannan is also looking to move into a leadership position as a senior scientific technical director or as a senior executive.

Francis highly recommends the program to anyone considering applying for an SES position. “The opportunity to learn more about SES and all that is needed and expected to join this community will significantly help inform your decision and achieve that goal if you decide to go this route,” he said. -he declares.

John Plets, chief of the Maintenance, Repair and Overhaul (MRO) Engineering Department, Fleet Readiness Center Western Pacific (FRC WESTPAC), Naval Air Facility (NAF) Atsugi, Japan, had a broader focus. “For me, advancement means finding where my skills, experience and values ​​fit best to energize a team,” he said. “I’m open-minded about where my career will go, but I’m interested in international security cooperation.”

Plets recommends that NAVAIR employees “capture the learning” and seek out development activities themselves if they don’t see a clear path for career progression. “Bridging the Gap connected me with experienced coaches, inspiring executives and supportive peers,” he said. “All those precious resources were there in front of me, I just needed to get out there and find the bridge.”

Manivannan said one of the main takeaways from the program was preparation for Basic Executive Qualifications (ECQs). ECQs define the skills needed to build a federal corporate culture that is results-oriented, serves customers, and builds high-performing teams and coalitions inside and outside the organization. They are designed to assess executive experience and potential, not technical expertise. The five ECQs are: Change management; leading people; results-oriented; business acumen; and form coalitions.

For Francis, the biggest benefits of Bridging the Gap were the 360-style organizational climate and leadership styles surveys and the information sessions. He appreciated the help with CV and ECQ writing and his ability to develop his interview skills.

Plets was also looking to add new skills to the leadership curriculum. “When I moved up to a supervisory position in the navy, I got a lot of necessary political training, but not a lot of leadership training,” he said. “I have worked to rectify this by seeking mentors and leadership activities outside of government. I made progress, but I still felt I was missing a key program to really get in tune with the leadership duo in the Navy between civilian and military executives. I recognized that Bridging the Gap could put me on the right track for these key skills, and it did.

Plets would recommend others at NAVAIR to apply for the leadership program. “It creates a bridge to SES opportunities, whether you are waiting at the edge of the gorge or just a few steps away, clearly opening your eyes to what makes and what is expected of a leader,” he said. he declares.

Bridging the Gap’s keynote address was delivered by Robert D. Hoag, Acting Assistant Secretary for Manpower and Reserve Affairs (M&RA) for the DoN. He thanked the graduating class for putting time and effort into their “leadership journey.”

“I hope this turns into another adventure in the Department of the Navy, if not the Department of Defense, where the country will continue to benefit from the dedication and service that you are already showing,” Hoag said.

The following NAVAIR members were part of the promotion:

  • Brian Arena, Technical Director, Patuxent River, Maryland.
  • Erik Barkhimer, Supply Group Division Manager, Patuxent River, Md.
  • Justin Francis, deputy sourcing group manager for PEO(T), Patuxent River, Md.
  • James Humbert, Integrated Product Team (IPT) Office Manager, Fleet Readiness Center East (FRCE), Cherry Point, NC
  • Venkatesan Manivannan, Advanced Technology Manager (Digital), Patuxent River, Maryland.
  • John Plets, Head of Engineering Department, FRC WESTPAC, NAF Atsugi, Japan


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