LG director encourages LOA members to take ownership of their careers
By Brandice J. O'Brien, Tinker Public Affairs
/ Published February 06, 2013
TINKER AIR FORCE BASE, Okla. --
When Gilbert Montoya walked into the Oklahoma Room Jan. 15, the audience of 50 attendees eagerly awaited his words. Rightfully so, the highly-regarded Senior Executive Service member and Air Force Sustainment Center Logistics director is a subject-matter expert.
Serving as guest speaker to the first brown-bag series Logistics Officer Association Crossroads Chapter and AFSC/LG partnership luncheon, Mr. Montoya spoke about logistics civilian force development. He reflected on his career choices, early goals and offered tips and information about programs available to LOA members interested in advancing their career.
"Nobody should care more about your career than you," he said. "You never know what your situation will be down the road. It might not always work out as you thought."
Mr. Montoya said in February 1985 when he was an aircraft mechanic at Kelly Air Force Base, Texas, he hoped he might one day become a Wage Grade-10 journeyman mechanic. That was his career goal. That was the level he hoped to achieve when he retired. Mr. Montoya never expected he'd surpass his own expectations or that he would leave Kelly AFB and San Antonio.
But, the base closed in 1995. Had Mr. Montoya not taken the advice of his mentors, training or accepted other positions along the way, he might have been at a crossroads. Instead, Mr. Montoya went to work at the Pentagon.
While many see mobility as the key to career advancement, Mr. Montoya said that isn't the only route. As long as personnel are open to opportunities and willing to venture outside of their comfort zones, there are many ways to excel and advance.
Having a mentor is key to the process. By speaking with a supervisor or organization leader, personnel may gain a broader and better perspective of opportunities.
Ivan Yelverton, of the 421st Supply Chain Management Squadron, said several of Mr. Montoya's mentoring messages stuck with him. Among them, "Make your supervisor aware of your goals so they can assist you in attaining them.
"Mr. Montoya addressed performing your current job to the best of your ability, visiting the professional development websites for in-depth information, making yourself available for training such as in-residence courses and distant-learning courses," Mr. Yelverton said. "I'm pursuing Defense Acquisition University acquisition professional development courses to become a well-rounded civil servant supporting the warfighter."
Another avenue is vectoring. Available to General Schedule-13s through GS-15s, personnel can submit a packet containing their training, education and job experience to one of two committees. Appropriate board members will review the applicant's information and determine the next career step, often offering suggestions and advice.
For personnel who are mobile, Mr. Montoya suggested LOA members look into career-broadening programs. Available to GS-11 through GS-15 positions, the opportunity enables career training in another field for a span of 30 months.
"I did career broadening at the GS-13 level and I had the opportunity to go to the Pentagon and learn how business was done at the Air Staff level," Mr. Montoya said. "It proved tremendously valuable to me."
Mr. Montoya said the program is not for everyone as it can place stress on the family, but it is worth researching.
Jennifer Burnett, of AFSC/LG, said as a former participant in career broadening who has received mentoring, she's eager to participate in vectoring.
"I believe there are always opportunities to further yourself," she said. "These opportunities are what have taught me how the big Air Force operates by allowing me opportunities to work in a major command, Air Force Global Logistics Support Center staff, AFSC and Defense Logistics Agency. Each of those opportunities are building blocks that have proven invaluable to my career and without the mentoring I have received throughout my career, I would have never realized that impact and may have missed opportunities."
Luis Rosa-Berrios, LOA member who brainstormed the partnership between LOA and AFSC/LG, said Mr. Montoya was the perfect speaker for the luncheon.
"As the AFSC/LG director and as a senior leader who came up through the ranks from a mechanic on the line to an item manager, branch chief, director, among other jobs to an SES leader, we felt he was a perfect example of someone who took advantage of the development opportunities available to him," Mr. Rosa-Berrios said. "He talked the talk and walked the walk."