Jul 26, 2012
NAVAIR Leadership Development Program (NLDP) Spotlight
NAVAL AIR WARFARE CENTER TRAINING SYSTEMS DIVISION, ORLANDO, Fla. — For Selina Vik, one of the best parts of NAVAIR might just be its leadership development program.
The program has given Vik, a supervisory human resources specialist in NAVAIR’s Training and Career Development Division, the confidence to lead.
“It taught me that leadership is in the person, not the position,” she said. “I felt empowered to lead in every aspect of my position.”
Vik took those lessons to heart when she helped lead the Orlando mentoring team in 2010. The team won a NAVAIR Commander’s Award — the highest team award in NAVAIR — for raising the percentage of mentor/mentee relationships in one year from 4 percent to 30 percent.
Vik hasn’t stopped there. She has helped implement several mentoring events in Orlando, including forums for employees to discuss their career passions and town halls to share ideas about education. She also plans to establish a “buddy mentor” program for new employees to introduce them to the workplace culture.
“I believe that everyone, at every stage in their career, needs a mentor,” she said.
Vik is passionate about her job and helping develop her co-workers’ careers, because she didn’t get that same kind of guidance early in her career.
“I lead from my heart and my gut and know that it’s the right thing to do,” she said. “I have an affinity for reaching out and have a passion for people and want them to succeed in their careers.”
‘I belonged there’
Vik decided to apply to NLDP in 2009 because she realized most NAVAIR senior leaders are selected from the ranks of current or former NLDP participants. She wanted the opportunity to prepare herself for a senior-level position through leadership classes, shadowing and rotational opportunities and formal mentoring.
NLDP, established in 2005, is the command’s flagship leadership program, designed for high performing mid- to senior-grade NAVAIR employees with demonstrated leadership potential, such as Vik. The program helps develop their leadership, management and productivity improvement skills and clarify their career goals.
“Because I am an African-American female, I also hoped to share my unique workforce experiences and my gift of bringing people together,” she said. “I wanted other minorities to see me in that role, see someone who looks like them. I wanted the opportunity to let other people know we are capable of participating and being part of this program, like everyone else.”
From the beginning, Vik’s first impression of the program was “wow!”
“When we walked into our first class, it was as if we had arrived. We were already being treated like the leaders that we would become,” she said. “It validated for me that I belonged there.”
After that first class, Vik said she began to believe she is a leader.
“From a confidence standpoint, [NLDP] has given me the opportunity and confidence to lead,” she said.
Her favorite parts of the program were the Capitol Hill Workshop — sitting in the rafters of the U.S. Senate learning the inner workings of government during the 2010 health care debate — and the USS George H.W. Bush (CVN 77) carrier tour. Both were part of the contemporary leadership issues and practices course and took her out of her usual office environment.
Most notably, she said she felt a personal and direct connection to the fleet.
“It was the Sailors in the fleet, to look at them and realize they are out there doing their jobs every day to protect us — an instant connection to what we do. ‘Supporting the warfighter’ now means something to me,” she said. “It was a very humbling experience.”
From introvert to leader
In addition to learning leadership and communication skills and the intricacies of the worldwide global and political environment, the program helped shape Vik personally.
An introvert by nature, Vik said it was a challenge to share her thoughts and experiences with a larger group.
“The group interactions and projects definitely pushed me out of my comfort zone,” she said.
The program also encouraged Vik, a believer in lifelong continuous learning, to pursue her second master’s degree in human resources development from Webster University.
“The friendships and networking opportunities available to you with people from other sites and other competencies are priceless, the opportunities to lead are ever present, and the program really is the premier leadership program in NAVAIR,” she said.