Gaurang Dave - Naval Surface Warfare Center Dahlgren Division (NSWCDD) Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) Special Emphasis Program manager (right) - mentors Navy civilians at an NSWCDD "flash mentoring" event. The Navy engineer's vision is to achieve the NSWCDD AAPI mission - create and sustain an environment that attracts, assists, promotes, and invigorates the careers of AAPI personnel. Dave and his Special Emphasis Program team are looking into various venues, such as the flash mentoring event, that will promote understanding and help overcome barriers to the recruitment and advancement of Asian and Pacific Islanders. (U.S. Navy photo/Released)
DAHLGLREN, Va.—An engineer's quest to boost the careers of Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) Navy civilian professionals and increase their representation in "high grade" government positions is becoming reality.
Navy engineer Gaurang Dävé's vision is to achieve the Naval Surface Warfare Center Dahlgren Division (NSWCDD) AAPI mission - create and sustain an environment that attracts, assists, promotes, and invigorates the careers of command AAPI personnel.
Dävé, the NSWCDD AAPI Special Emphasis Program manager, didn't have to look far. He heard about recent "flash mentoring" success stories and quickly made the connection.
"Once I learned about flash mentoring events, I saw its ability to make our Asian American and Pacific Islander program's vision and mission a reality," said Dävé. "Where else can the AAPI community find an opportunity to network with eight mentors in two hours?"
Dävé - who is also the NSWCDD Chemical, Biological and Radiological Analysis, Testing, and Systems Engineering Branch head - contacted the command's mentoring program coordinator Audrey Lohr to discuss their mutual goals.
"It was an exciting opportunity to support the objectives of both the NSWCDD AAPI special emphasis program and the mentoring program, weaving together event topics that were of particular interest and significance to the AAPI community, while also pertinent to non-AAPI employees throughout the NSWCDD workforce," recounted Lohr, NSWCDD's New Employee Development manager.
Lohr and Dävé scheduled an AAPI-sponsored "flash mentoring" event in the wake of Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month held throughout May with a national theme of "I Am Beyond," capturing the aspirations of the American spirit and how Americans of Asian and Pacific Islander decent have sought to excel beyond the challenges they have faced over the years.
Jim Yee, the command's AAPI senior leader champion, collaborated with Dävé to create and develop this unique human resources initiative. Together, they briefed the benefits of flash mentoring to 40 Navy civilian mentees at the event held on the University of Mary Washington Dahlgren campus June 9.
"The event presented a unique opportunity to bring together both AAPI and non-AAPI senior leaders and workforce personnel to discuss topics essential to professional development and career enhancement," said Yee, NSWCDD Engagement Systems Deputy Department head. "It's the first in a series of events we are planning that will focus on building community and enhancing communication among our AAPI workforce."
NSWCDD mentors led discussions in small group settings on four topics: increasing success in your current position; development opportunities; mentoring; and career planning. The eight mentors - including six leaders with AAPI heritage - shared their experiences and perspectives with mentees while guiding the conversations.
"I personally enjoyed learning more about the AAPI community and culture and employee feedback indicates participants benefited from the opportunity to network and share lessons learned," said Lohr. "Many mentioned it motivated them to pursue further mentoring opportunities and many indicated it helped them generate ideas for developmental opportunities to achieve career goals."
The mentees networked with other employees in similar roles to learn about best practices and success stories. They engaged in discussions about the challenges they face as well as the development opportunities within and outside of their positions.
"We are seeking to cultivate a sense of community and vision within the NSWCDD Asian American and Pacific Islander population," said Yee. "We informed employees about the special emphasis program and associated challenges faced by our community."
Yee, Dävé and their NSWCDD AAPI Special Emphasis Program team are looking into various venues, such as the flash mentoring event, that will promote understanding and help overcome barriers to the recruitment and advancement of Asian and Pacific Islanders.
"Our desire is that those in attendance (at the flash mentoring event) will spread the word within their respective organizations that our AAPI leadership is very interested in helping the AAPI community come together, providing much needed support for professional development and growth," said Yee. "Based on feedback, the event was a resounding success, both among AAPI and non-AAPI alike."
This was the fifth in a series of NSWCDD flash mentoring events since November 2012, with the next event likely taking place this fall.
For more information about the history of Asian and Pacific Islanders and their numerous contributions to the Navy, visit http://www.history.navy.mil/special%20highlights/asian/asian-index.htm.