Heinsma is honored as Mentor of the Year at China Lake

Heinsma is honored as Mentor  of the Year at China LakeDwayne Heinsma, Naval Air Systems Command’s Mentor of the Year at the Naval Air Warfare Center Weapons Division China Lake, is recognized by Joan Johnson, NAWCWD executive director and one of Heinsma’s mentors, following a Jan. 31 ceremony honoring mentors across NAVAIR. — U.S. Navy photo by Paul Kakert



NAWCWD Public Affairs

Out of the 75 nominees up for the Naval Air Systems Command’s 2018 Mentors of the Year, Naval Air Warfare Center Weapons Division’s Dwayne Heinsma received that honor at China Lake during a Jan. 31 NAVAIR-wide ceremony.

Heinsma, who serves as the director of acquisition, has been supporting NAWCWD for nearly 30 years. In that time, according to his nomination by Sandy Scharn-Stevens, deputy director for contracts, Heinsma has mentored more than 50 employees in professional development, increased organizational awareness and career planning.

“By passing on lessons learned through his leadership experience, such as the necessity of a healthy work-life balance and focused career goals,” Scharn-Stevens said, “he has encouraged employees to be cognizant of their roles as good stewards of the whole of NAVAIR and motivated the request and approval for many initiatives that improved competency effectiveness and work environment.”

Heinsma mentors a variety of employees including members of the Engineer and Scientist Development Program, senior scientists as well as competency leaders. For him, it’s the enjoyment of helping those who want to learn and, specifically guiding them on the courses of action to take or options to consider in their career development. His favorite questions for his mentees are, “What are you passionate about? What attributes of a dream job really set your hair on fire?”

Heinsma said he has found value in having mentors and has used what he learned from them in his roles at NAWCWD including head of the Software Simulation Division of Weapons and Tactics Analysis Center, externally directed team lead for the Y2K Solutions Team, Integrated Product Team lead for AV-8B, director for the Unmanned Systems Activity and associate director for the Software and Mission Systems Integration Department. He also credited his mentors with helping him go where the team needs him and motivating him to find a better work-life balance.

“The things I’m passionate about transcend the positions I’m assigned and that energy goes wherever I go,” he said. “Linda Andrews was my mentor when I took the WEPTAC and Y2K positions, and she had a tremendous impact on me 10 years into my career at WD. She taught me that leaders are positive and optimistic about the future. It gives people hope, and hope during adversity and challenging times helps keep a team moving forward.”

When it comes to facing adversity, Scharn-Stevens noted, Heinsma regularly mentors new and seasoned supervisors on how to resolve contentious situations and other workplace challenges by improving their communication delivery.

“He motivates supervisors to initiate and maintain open lines of employee communication, increasing mutual respect and team cohesiveness,” she said. “He continuously provides just-in-time mentoring to senior Contracts Competency leadership, often regarding how to script difficult or high-risk communications with employees.”

For those looking to build mentor-mentee relationships, Heinsma believes NAVAIR’s iMentor tool is a great place to start.

“I highly recommend that any mentee consider both informal as well as formal mentoring relationships and, more importantly, to have multiple mentors,” he said. “There’s no substitute for the rich learning opportunity that comes from a diverse set of personal and professional lifetime experiences.”

Story First Published: 2019-03-08