Press Room

AVIAN Employee Owners Grow Together in Mentoring Program

LEXINGTON PARK, Md. – What better way to ensure the next generation of employee owners has what they need to succeed than to help them along the way, to guide them. And that’s what a group of AVIAN employees is doing.   
Employee self-development is an important aspect of the company culture of nearly 400 employee-owners. On July 13, AVIAN hosted a Mentoring Social Event at AVIAN Headquarters in Lexington Park, Maryland.  
“We strive to provide opportunities that help each other learn and grow personally and professionally," said Kelly Perry, AVIAN’s director of human resources. “This event provides the opportunity to meet someone face to face and begin the relationship”.
The event was planned to encourage new mentor and mentee pairings within the company and to highlight a successful two-year pairing between Product Quality Engineer John Blankensop and Director of Quality Robin Gatton.  
Blankensop and Gatton spoke about their experience as a mentor and a mentee and how the relationship has impacted their lives.   
Having a mentor program benefits the entire company,” Blankensop said. “This program provides a whole different level of career development. The program grows confident and productive employees, which will ultimately give back to the organization.”  
Blankensop and Gatton first met in 2018 when John was an external Auditor that assessed the performance of AVIAN’s Quality Management System against the latest ISO 9001 standard. Robin said she learned a lot from John at this time, but no official mentor/mentee relationship was created. It wasn’t until August of 2020 that Robin and John kicked off their mentorship when John joined AVIAN as an employee. Over the two-year relationship, the pair maintained regular monthly meetings despite what was happening in the world around them. They both stayed committed to the relationship, and it blossomed because of it.  
“A big part of being a mentor is supporting your mentee, being a good listener, and inspiring [them],” said Blankensop. “We want to probe our mentees to think; promote their intellectual curiosity and get them out of their comfort zone.”  
This type of relationship can come with many different benefits for both parties. A mentee can develop more of a personal network within the business, learn from their mentor's experience and ultimately experience increased job satisfaction. A mentor can gain leadership skills and exposure to entirely different perspectives.   
“It's like having your own personal tutor,” Gatton said. “I would study and then come to John with questions. The accelerated growth and knowledge have helped me grow and become more confident.” 
Earlier this year, Gatton successfully earned her certification in Manager of Quality/Organizational Excellence from The American Society for Quality, and just this month was promoted from Quality Manager to Director of Quality for AVIAN.  
“I know my relationship with John helped me achieve my career goals these past two years, Gatton said. “John encouraged me to work hard and keep pushing forward.”  

“The best mentors of the future are the mentees going through the program now,” Blankensop said.  
The Mentoring Mingler event, as it was internally called, produced several promising mentor and mentee matches that otherwise may not have had the opportunity to connect due to dispersed or remote teams not having a channel to connect.  

With new energy in the program, AVIAN plans to continue to enhance how mentors and mentees are matched within the company based on skills, knowledge and interest.  

AVIAN plans to continuously expand and mature the program within the company. In the future, the program will be linked to AVIAN’s career pathing program. 


AVIAN (*ae-v-yin*) is an employee-owned government services small business headquartered in Lexington Park, Maryland with annual revenues exceeding $73 million. 

We are resourceful, responsive and reachable for our clients in program, financial, and logistics management; engineering and systems engineering; test and evaluation of manned and unmanned aerial, surface, and sub surface systems; workforce development and training; and communication strategy and graphic design.  

Our philosophy is simple. We care for our employees. Our employees care for our customers. Our customers care to return. Simply put, we take care of each other. 

Go Back