JOINT BASE SAN ANTONO-LACKLAND, Texas – The senior civilian leaders at the Air Force Materiel Command took their quarterly business meeting to a new location for the first time: on the road to a subordinate center.
Lorna Estep, AFMC executive director, said this was an opportunity for herself and the six center executive directors to learn more about the command’s missions and engage in person with the dispersed workforce.
“This is the first stop on a round-robin to have the CA Roundtable at all of our centers in AFMC,” she said. “It’s important that we integrate our centers to deliver capability to the Air Force, because there are things we do across the AFMC enterprise that really need to be packaged together to deliver capability. We’re after a better understanding of the missions across AFMC.”
Estep hosted the center directors for two days of business discussions and a mission immersion, with a focus on civilian workforce recruitment, development and retention Feb. 23-24 at Air Force Installation and Mission Support headquarters here.
She was joined by Executive Directors Kathy Watern, Air Force Lifecycle Management Center; Timothy Sakulich, Air Force Research Laboratory; Dennis D’Angelo, Air Force Sustainment Center; Joseph Oder, Air Force Nuclear Weapons Center; and Samuel Grable, acting executive director, Air Force Installation and Mission Support Center.
As the senior civilian in an organization, executive directors advise their commanders on all aspects of mission operations and oversee the development of the civilian work force. In AFMC, that latter responsibility is a big one with more than 70 percent of the command’s workforce – about 63,000 people – comprised of civilian employees. To put that in more perspective, the AFMC civilian employee population makes up 40 percent of the entire Air Force civilian workforce.
Meeting discussions centered on determining the best ways to take care of the command’s civilian Airmen.
“Much of what we do at the CA Roundtable is talk about the full range of capabilities and competencies we need to drive Air Force Materiel Command,” she said. “We discuss the information we get from you and what your concerns are as we change the way we value growth and competencies. We talked a lot about what is right for the workforce and what we can do to improve the development of the workforce.
“As we look at Civilian Developmental Education, for example, (we look at) what we have right, what you’re interested in, and maybe what we don’t have that you might be interested in so we can consider adding those capabilities in our portfolio and provide you opportunities to grow in your career.”
On Feb. 24, the leaders received immersion briefings from the AFIMSC team before conducting an executive director panel for the workforce on the topics of command missions, leadership, mentorship, and civilian force development.
There was a common thread throughout the discussion of AFMC-wide connectedness and integration.
“We are all linked with the things you do at AFIMSC,” D’Angelo said. “My air base wings couldn’t exist without the help you provide them, and without the training you give to the security forces and installation support (teams). Regardless of what I do to bring warfighter capabilities to the field and the Air Force, you are the foundation by which I can accomplish my job. So, thank you to all of you who make that happen, and though nobody will ever know your name, most likely, don’t ever think you don’t have an impact.”
Yanelle Gavina, a four-year civilian employee and marketing specialist at the Air Force Services Center, stayed after the panel concluded and was able to discuss her professional development one-on-one with Estep and D’Angelo.
“I would say that because our job sets often keep us a little bit more insulated from the rest of what's going on around us, we don't actually get a lot of opportunities to hear from people in supply chain management or research and development,” Gavina said. “Going to a panel like this allows you to see the broader mission so I understand maybe there are some spots I could be helping other people that I'm just not aware of yet.
“I feel very inspired leaving today to do more to educate myself across a variety of topics. There’s so much I can learn and need to learn before I can get to a (senior) level like that, so I feel inspired to go back and start trying to learn things outside of my department.”