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Program management graduates get virtual celebration

  • Published
  • By Patty Welsh
  • 66th Air Base Group Public Affairs

HANSCOM AIR FORCE BASE, Mass. – Despite the ongoing pandemic, officials here recognized the recent 2020 class of program management trainee graduates via a video presentation.

Traditionally an in-person graduation ceremony takes place on the base, but due to in-person gathering restrictions, the Acquisition – Operating Location Hanscom Training Manager said they had to get creative.

“We wanted to be able to acknowledge and honor the participants’ accomplishments,” said William Alter. “So we decided to create a video where senior leaders from the acquisition directorates and Mr (Patrick) Marr, senior site functional for AQ-OL Hanscom, could offer their input and congratulations to our graduates.”

On the video, Maj. Gen. Michael Schmidt, program executive officer for Command, Control, Communications, Intelligence and Networks, said he is “really proud” of the graduates.

“I’m looking forward to big things from you in the future,” he said. “I couldn’t think of a better way to start a career than this program.”

A recent graduate working in C3I&N, Alex Pinheiro, said he’s “thankful” for the program.

“Being an acquisition PM within the Air Force is extremely complex,” he said. “This program prepared me for all of those complexities and day-to-day challenges that come up.”

Steve Wert, PEO for Digital, said acquisition program management, more than most jobs, requires an accumulation of knowledge and experience over time.

“You are stepping into a PM role when we are trying to push the envelope and not use traditional acquisition approaches,” he said. “We’re seeking to accelerate technology into our systems and imagine what they could be rather than waiting for requirements.”

Both PEOs also emphasized the leadership roles the new program managers will take on.

Elizabeth Sawyer, now a program manager in mission planning in Digital, learned about the training opportunity from a family friend.

“My major was in communications so I had never really considered program management as a potential career, but as I’ve gained more experience in the field throughout the duration of the program, I’ve realized this is something I truly enjoy doing and I’m very grateful he brought the program to my attention.”

Sawyer said she’s already used skills she learned while in the training in her new position.

“I’m looking forward to building upon my past experiences and continuing to learn as my time here continues.”

The new program managers recently completed either the PALACE Acquire program or a locally-funded trainee program. Other requirements include completing Core Certification Standards courses, as well as their program manager level I and II certifications in order to graduate.

Another graduate, Dayo Oyelakin, Advisory and Assistance Services program manager in the Strategic Services Division, said he learned that program managers need to develop skills focused on cost, schedule, performance and risk while creating collaborative team environments.

“The most beneficial things I’ve learned from the program consist of not just how the Air Force works but how we should work within the Air Force,” he said. “It takes a highly-skilled team to do what we do.”

Pinheiro said mandatory rotations were the most beneficial for him.

“Every 12-18 months we were required to rotate to a new program. I think that breadth of experience prepared me for some of the problems and roadblocks I have faced.”

Marr told the graduates their knowledge will be important.

“As a PM, much will be expected from you by your fellow Airmen.”

And Alter said acquisition program managers put the best tools into the hands of the Air Force so its members can be “ready anytime, anyplace to defend our nation.”


Other graduates in this session were:

Jason Adams
Justin Baker
Tiffany Belz
Jennifer Brock
Keaton Burton
Nicholas Cloe
Will Herbert
Jobina Khoo
Michelle McCarthy
Meagan Myers
Brittany Peterson

Schmidt encouraged the new PMs to tell others about the program so there can be more graduates in the next class.

Organizers sent the video to all graduates to share with their family and friends. For more information about the training program itself, visit https://www.afciviliancareers.com/students.php.