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7th AF leaders reflect on first-ever Chiefs Business Symposium

  • Published
  • By Tech. Sgt. Emili Koonce
  • 8th Fighter Wing Public Affairs

Last month Chief Master Sgt. Jeremiah W. Ross, 7th Air Force command chief, hosted the Chiefs Business Symposium as the first event of its kind for chief master sergeants stationed throughout the Korean Peninsula at the Dragon Hill Lodge, U.S. Army Garrison Yongsan-Casey, ROK, Oct. 12-13, 2023.

After five months of planning, 45 of the Air Force’s most senior enlisted leaders in the ROK gathered to nourish their professional leadership skills in a collective environment, with key speakers featured from Pacific Air Forces and Headquarters Air Force.

“The Chiefs Business Symposium provided an opportunity to create a two-day course filled with specifically targeted briefings that were relevant and beneficial to chiefs serving across all of Korea,” said Chief Master Sgt. John Coyle, 5th Reconnaissance Squadron senior enlisted leader and one of the primary planners for the event.

Two of the most prominent virtual briefers were Chief Master Sgt. of the Air Force JoAnne S. Bass, and Chief Master Sgt. John Alsvig, Air Force first sergeant special duty manager, who provided the attendees top-level perspectives on common unit level obstacles as well as ways chiefs can help re-optimize of the force within their units.

“The reality is that development can stop at this rank, so this symposium is set up to ensure chiefs continue to receive tools and development to take back to their work centers,” said Chief Master Sgt. Steven G. Creek, 8th Fighter Wing command chief.

Now a month later, several of the participating chiefs took some time to reflect on the symposium.

“The most impactful part of the event was the opportunity to gather together in-person as the chief master sergeants on the peninsula—chiefs developing chiefs,” said Chief Master Sgt. Robert Ybay, 7th Air Force Forces Staff and Cyberspace and Information Dominance Directorate senior enlisted leader. “It reinforced dynamic discussions aimed at empowering and developing the enlisted corps.”

For Creek, the most personally impactful briefing came from the host of the symposium.

“Hearing Chief Ross’ personal reflection of a time when he pushed himself too hard as a command chief reemphasized to me that no matter where you are in your career, you have to pay attention to the signs your body, mind and loved ones are giving you,” said Creek. “It was so important to hear his vulnerabilities so I and others can pay attention to our own signs and learn when to take a step back, trust those around us to pick up the slack, and take care of ourselves personally so in the long run we’ll always be able to take care of the people and mission.”

Anthony Cruz Munoz, Pacific Air Forces Diversity, Equity, Inclusion and Accessibility chief, attended the symposium in-person and shared the importance of DEIA and how leaders can foster an inclusive environment.

The briefings by Munoz and Ross also stood out the most for Ybay in the weeks following the symposium.

“Both presented valuable, raw, and authentic perspectives from their experience over what it means to be a chief master sergeant and the lessons learned senior leaders rarely talk about: how to take care of oneself as a [chief],” Ybay said.

A notable takeaway for Chief Master Sgt. Ismail Taylor-Kamara, 8th Mission Support Group senior enlisted leader, was the discussion on the Air Force’s recent optimization of professional military education through the Enlisted Airmen Continuum, as it helps Airmen and supervisors at all levels take care of themselves and those in their charge by providing new developmental opportunities.

“Supervisors need to embrace this new model of enlisted professional development,” said Taylor-Kamara. “It gives Airmen tools much earlier in their careers and as they progress through the ranks.”

As the enlisted professional development model continues to increase opportunities for all ranks, 7th Air Force leaders anticipate the annual Chiefs Business Symposium becoming an essential forum for connecting the top enlisted rank on the peninsula with senior Air Force leaders and are looking forward to next year’s event.

“Attendees gained valuable acumen to strengthen leadership skills, promote diversity and inclusion, and uphold excellence across the service,” said Ybay. “The in-person attendance by Air Force senior leaders must be an imperative for future symposiums.”