NAWCAD Lakehurst Mentor of the Year helps grow future naval aviation leaders

By NAWCAD Lakehurst Public Affairs | NAWCAD Lakehurst Public Affairs | March 8, 2018

JOINT BASE MCGUIRE-DIX-LAKEHURST, N.J. — The Naval Air Warfare Center Aircraft Division (NAWCAD) Lakehurst recognized a cybersecurity engineer for his dedication to helping develop the next generation of engineers and scientists during a ceremony on the Lakehurst side of base Feb. 26.

Keith Jordan, Cyber lead for the Support Equipment (SE) and Aircraft Launch and Recovery Equipment (ALRE) Department at Lakehurst, was named the 2017 Mentor of the Year for NAWCAD Lakehurst. He was among 12 Lakehurst employees nominated for the site’s Mentor of the Year Award, which is part of an annual recognition event by the Naval Air Systems Command (NAVAIR) Mentoring Program.

“Mr. Jordan’s dedication to helping grow and develop today's scientists and engineers into tomorrow's naval aviation leaders demonstrates the benefit a mentoring relationship can have not only to NAVAIR but to our Navy as a whole,” said Kathleen P. Donnelly, director of the NAVAIR SE and ALRE Department. “This honor is truly well deserved.”

Jordan has been with NAVAIR for more than ten years and started mentoring after he experienced the benefits of being a mentee through the NAVAIR Leadership Development Program (NLDP).

“I looked at the benefits that I got out of it,” said Jordan. “Really it all came down to the little things. Just having people listen and you have an opportunity to vent and run ideas off of.”

Wanting to pay it forward, Jordan started mentoring employees within his team at NAWCAD Lakehurst, but also provides shadowing and mentoring opportunities for employees at Patuxent River, Maryland who want to learn more about his work here.

“Keith has been an invaluable resource when it comes to career planning, interview preparation and mentoring,” said Kyle Cobb, project team lead, NAWCAD Lakehurst Additive Manufacturing. “Keith has always prompted me to go wherever I felt I added the most value to the organization.”

Jordan focuses his mentoring on the needs of the mentee, whether they have specific questions, need help preparing for an interview or just want someone to talk to about their career goals.

“I think having that informal avenue for conversations is really helpful, especially for people who have just started and maybe aren’t used to working in the government or working for NAVAIR,” said Jordan.

“I started at Lakehurst less than a year ago and was intimidated to start my first job out of graduate school; having Keith as my mentor has made my transition into the federal workforce easy and has provided me with many avenues for opportunity,” said Alexa Piccoli, NAWCAD Lakehurst computer scientist. “Keith is a great mentor and I'm grateful for the opportunity to be his mentee and learn from him.”

Working with a diverse set of government partners as a part of his job, Jordan encourages his mentees to take opportunities in other branches of NAVAIR or Navy sites to broaden their perspective and career experience.

“On numerous occasions, Mr. Jordan has made himself available, including after hours, to help individuals seeking rotational opportunities and in some cases, new positions within NAVAIR,” said Chris Brocco, NAWCAD Lakehurst mechanical engineer. “He is excellent in identifying talent and assessing character in individuals and pairing their interests and skillset in order to promote growth and address needs of Lakehurst.”

“He continues to put others ahead of himself and is always looking to help promote individuals instead of himself first, and has become a great mentor, friend and role model for employees within this organization,” said Brocco.

While Jordan assists with the professional growth of his mentees, he finds mentoring provides growth for him as well.

“It is 100 percent a two-way conversation. I probably learn more from them than they do from me,” said Jordan. “Conversations I get a lot out of are talking to some of our newer folks on what it is that we can do as an organization to help attract and keep you here.”

Continuing to develop professionals in the workforce, Jordan will also continue to consult his own mentors when needed and said he never sees that changing.

He encourages others to consider being a mentor, whether formally or informally.

“I think back to the fact that it really is a two-way benefit. Just what you can learn from hearing somebody else’s perspective on maybe the exact same things that you work on day to day, just to get a different opinion from a diverse set of people,” said Jordan. “Little things like that can really pave the way for big change.”