HANSCOM AIR FORCE BASE, Mass. – Personnel from Air Force Materiel Command and Hanscom Air Force Base partnered to host a diverse mentoring event here Oct. 27.
The event was AFMC’s first tailored-demographic mentoring effort that centered on the benefits and challenges of mentorship and networking in a diverse workplace.
“No matter how self-motivated or confident you are in your own skills and potential, there’s nothing like having the wisdom and guidance of someone who has already carved out that path,” said Steve Ober, Hanscom’s Diversity, Equity and Inclusion chief.
Alphonso Thomas, a member of the Senior Executive Service, was the guest speaker, and shared his personal experiences with mentors throughout his career and suggested ways for others to seek out similar guidance.
“It all depends on what you want to do with your career, and how quickly you want to do it, but start with people you know,” said Thomas, who is the director of Engineering and Technical Management at Tinker Air Force Base, Oklahoma. “We also shouldn’t view mentorship as a singular thing; you can have multiple mentors to help you understand all the aspects of career development.”
Thomas also shared his advice on how to be a mentor.
“The first step is to listen, the second step is to listen, and the third step is to listen,” he said.
In addition to establishing career goals, participants also discussed how topics such as race should be discussed when establishing a mentor relationship.
“Race is not a taboo subject, but when I bring those topics to the discussion, I do it from the standpoint of how I may be able to help because I have a better understanding of something because of what I’ve been through,” said Thomas.
Officials from the Hanscom DEI Cell also hope to see the relationships between networking and mentorship generate connections across Hanscom’s workforce and the Air Force.
“We had some great discussions about networking being as important as mentorship,” said Jacquelynn Coles, Hanscom’s Black Member Employee Resource Group lead. “Hopefully we see an increase in personnel getting to know their peers and enlarging their network pools. It’s a small Air Force.”
Base leaders said personnel can expect similar events in the future to continue developing the best, most diverse talent at Hanscom.
“Mentoring is a critical tool for every Airman to have in their tool kit as they navigate a successful progression of duties and responsibilities over the course of an Air Force career,” said Col. Katrina Stephens, installation commander.