Teaching Through Fellowship

NG Fellow Mentorship Inspires Possibilities

Helen, a software configuration analyst in Melbourne, Florida, had learned a little about cybersecurity early in her career, and as she watched that field grow and expand she wanted to dive back in. Cybersecurity is very technical and complex, so, she sought out a mentor who could teach her more.

Black woman in computer lab

At an African American Task Group (AATG) employee resource group event designed to pair up mentors and protégés, Helen met Francis, an Northrop Grumman (NG) Fellow who has a doctorate in cybersecurity.

“I was intimidated at first,” Helen said. After all, NG Fellows are renowned throughout the company and industry for having decades of leading-edge experience in their fields.

She said she worried about being able to understand and learn from someone with such advanced knowledge of cybersecurity, especially cybersecurity as applied to the aerospace and defense industry. Francis is an NG Fellow in cybersecurity and system security engineering. He served 23 years in the Air Force in roles that showcased his increasing level of technical expertise and leadership.

But the pair clicked, and Helen soon found that there was nothing to be intimidated by. Francis was a natural teacher. “He brings everything down to my level where I can understand it,” Helen said. “He has been showing me how the pieces all work together; the whole process, from start to finish, whether it’s the hardware or software portion.”

NG Fellows are not just charged with solving difficult technical challenges related to their fields. They also share their technical expertise in an effort to grow their fields, and one of the key ways Francis does this is through mentor-protégé relationships. Helen said Francis strives to help her understand even the most complex cybersecurity principles.

Today, Helen has moved into a role as an analyst on the cybersecurity system team. Before teaming up in the mentor-protégé relationship with Francis, Helen said she never considered moving her career down a technical path. Now, she sees it as a possibility.

“Knowing why we’re doing certain things within cybersecurity, and how we’re helping the customer, really benefits me. When I go to a different department to work on a project, I know how those pieces fit because of Francis.”

Helen is not the only one benefiting from the mentor-protégé relationship. Francis said he has learned a lot from her, too. “She has fresh ideas. Her different perspectives allow me to reexamine problems we’re faced with today, and I learn a lot from that process,” he said.

Francis said he hopes to inspire and educate junior information technology professionals to enter the cybersecurity field. And he is not alone.

There are more than 200 NG Fellows across the enterprise, all advising on matters ranging from cybersecurity to engineering to business management. They support programs and initiatives across the enterprise and undergo a competitive selection process to earn the title. NG Fellows are reviewed bi-annually and are retained based on the business needs and strategic growth initiatives.

Are you a Northrop Grumman employee? Find out more information about mentorship at Northrop Grumman by speaking with your manager. For more professional development opportunities, visit My Learning Exchange.

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