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The U.S. Air Force Expeditionary Operations School hosts reverse mentorship panel

Graphic of people sharing ideas.

Airmen from across the U.S. Air Force Expeditionary Operations School campus gathered for a unique mentorship panel on Nov. 5, 2020. (U.S. Air Force graphic by Danielle Brooks)

JOINT BASE MCGUIRE-DIX-LAKEHURST, N.J. --

Airmen from across the U.S. Air Force Expeditionary Operations School campus gathered for a unique mentorship panel on Nov. 5, 2020.

What made this mentorship panel unique was the reversal of roles.

The panel of five was composed of junior enlisted and company grade officers, while the audience was their senior leadership.

The event was organized by 2nd Lt. Cristal Moody, Officer in Charge, Intelligence Operations, 423rd Mobility Training Squadron.

“It was initially hosted for officers studying at Harvard and I found out about it on the Facebook U.S. Air Force Women’s Officer Forum,” said Moody. “I used their event as a template.”

Speaking on his impression of the event, Ken Arteaga, Director, USAF Expeditionary Operations School, said, “It was well prepared and it was very professionally done. I thought that a lot the questions and topics were well thought out and presented well.”

The aim of this “reverse mentorship” was to aid senior leaders in connecting with younger Airmen, bridge the generational gap, and empower Airmen to succeed.

“I felt it was important to bridge the gap between young Airmen and leadership, as well as empower younger Airmen,” Moody said. “My main goal was to provide insight to leadership that they could take back with them and establish a way forward that is best for everyone, as well as feel more connected with their younger members.”

The need to bridge the generational gap is something that is recognized by the USAF Expeditionary Operations School leadership.

 “A lot of the discussions I am hearing with younger Airmen are really the same discussions I remember having when I was a young Airman,” said Arteaga. “Most notably work-family balance and what kind of things do we expect from our leaders.”

Arteaga noted that it is good for senior leaders to hear the perceptions of younger Airmen, because, while the topics being discussed were not new, they serve as a good refresher for leadership.

“I gained valuable professional development from the experience,” said Lt. Col. Christopher MacDonald, Commander, 423rd MTS. “I found that many challenges expressed during the reverse mentorship are not necessarily new frustrations.”

MacDonald added, that there is much more similarity than difference between the different generations and “a common ground is a great place to build from.”

For all involved, the reverse mentorship event was considered a success.

 “In my opinion, the event was a total success, because I saw leadership engaging in positive conversations about the mentorship provided,” said Moody.

Arteaga echoed that sentiment, adding, “I think that what they did was fantastic and I would encourage them to do it again.”