I love to teach. As a navy helicopter pilot, I enjoyed spending time teaching the younger pilots in my squadron and while on detachment. I taught them flight skills. I quizzed them about the machine that we flew, then helped to explain the parts that they didn’t quite get. Most importantly, I taught them about how to make decisions as a Helicopter Aircraft Commander (HAC). While at HSL-48 as the Detachment Officer-in-Charge embarked on the USS Doyle (FFG-39), I remember hours and hours of training time spent with the four junior pilots under my command. Looking back, I see that my navy career was full of workforce training and teaching experience.
In the relative safety of the ship, we would discuss scenarios, problems, and dilemmas they may face in the air. They would breakdown the decision-making process, consider their options, then express their choices. I would help them through this by providing feedback, instruction, and correction. The purpose was to help them prepare for their HAC Board. When we returned from our deployment, they would undergo this challenging oral examination to become fully qualified pilots. All four of my charges passed their HAC boards.
From time to time I thought about becoming a teacher, but always in an academic setting. When at Postgraduate School in Monterey, California, I remembered how much I enjoyed the classroom and learning. I remember thinking about the teaching styles, techniques, and skills of my professors as much as the Aeronautical Engineering that they taught. Eventually my love of teaching, my teaching experiences, and an understanding of workforce training blended into who I am now.
Active Duty Teaching
One of my navy jobs was Rotary Wing Instructor at the US Naval Test Pilot School (USNTPS). This provided an amazing mix of exactly what I needed. I taught in the classroom, speaking to groups of students about the exercises and projects that made up their year-long course. Also, I tutored one-on-one during pre-flight and post-flight debriefings. But most difficult and rewarding was when I reviewed students’ work and provided feedback and instruction during exercise debriefs. The grading was primarily of students’ exercise documents: test plans and reports. I evaluated their technical writing, critical thinking, and communication skills. In addition to written communication, I graded their flying skills, presentation, and competence as a student Test Pilot. I taught in the cockpit – a challenging environment in which to instruct if there ever was one! My tour time at USNTPS a highlight of my career, and there I gained teaching experience.
Even after leaving the cockpit and entering the acquisition world, working in program offices, I stayed close to aviation. I served several years as an occasional guest lecturer at my alma mater, the US Naval Academy. There I taught the senior aeronautical engineering students about how helicopters work from a performance and flying quality perspective. This helped to augment their normal instruction, which primarily covered fixed-wing aerodynamics. Because of my teaching experience, I considered a career change to Permanent Military Professor. Upon further reflection, family concerns, career timing, and other issues ultimately convinced me not to pursue that at the time. But the desire for the classroom never left me.
Post-Military Workforce Training
Immediately after retiring from active duty at the end of 2011, I went to work for AVIAN, a contractor support services company. AVIAN primarily serves the needs of the Naval Air Systems Command (NAVAIR), in Lexington Park, MD. At first, AVIAN specialized in Test & Evaluation (T&E), primarily due to the experience and expertise of the initial employees of the rapidly growing small business. Over the 8 years that I worked for AVIAN, they branched out to include Logistics, Program Management, Contracts, System Engineering, and other disciplines in their support for NAVAIR. Additionally, AVIAN gained expertise in Information & Multimedia Services, and put that to use in developing training curricula.
At AVIAN, I supported the Naval Aviation Test & Evaluation University (NATEU) with instruction and course development. During my first several years with AVIAN, NATEU training received recognition and award for excellence. Ultimately, this led to NATEU being demoted into the College of Test & Evaluation (CTE) and the creation of NAVAIR University. Along with an overarching university, NAVAIR created several other colleges, and I soon began supporting them: College of Program Management (CPM), College of Logistics and Industrial Operations (CLIO), and College of Interdisciplinary Studies (CISL).
On My Own: Combining Workforce Training and Teaching Experience
In the fall of 2013, I launched my own business, not knowing exactly where I was headed. Fundamentally, I knew that I wanted to be in the personal growth and development field. After reading John Maxwell’s book, 3 Things Successful People Do, I committed to follow his advice: Know your purpose, Grow in your purpose, and Sow seeds of value in others. I found success in the classroom, and was reaffirmed repeatedly that I was able to take otherwise dry training and convert it into something of value. I developed my concept of the Leadership Links for Success. Communication, specifically public speaking, was my purpose. I was growing and learning, and I enjoyed helping others develop their abilities. Thus, I found the area of particular interest (i.e., my purpose). I help experts learn how to turn their expertise into vibrant, effective, and dynamic workforce training.
From my own business, as a subcontractor through various primes, or as an independent contractor through AVIAN, I continue to do exactly this. I teach CTE courses in test planning and reporting. CPM relies on me to develop and teach program management, organizational dynamics, and team building. I teach for CISL about how NAVAIR as an organization functions, and an introduction to cyberspace and cyberwarfare. For CLIO, not only do I help develop and instruct their material, but I also instruct, coach, and counsel logistics subject matter experts (SMEs) in how to facilitate training on their own. CLIO hired me to be Instructor Support, which allows me to work in my purpose with others to develop their leadership, communication, and training facilitation capability.