SEPTEMBER 22, 2021 – “Ultimately, I care because most supervisors don’t,” said Air Force Master Sgt. Phillip Bean, the 27th Special Operations Wing Professional Development Center career assistance advisor.
Bean doesn’t make his statement lightly. As the wing CAA, he is arguably one of the most qualified individuals to say it. Airmen from all backgrounds and careers go to him for guidance and assistance.
“I recently had a sit-down with an individual,” Bean said. “He came up to me and he said, ‘I want to become a better supervisor. I want to do the right thing for my Airmen. Will you teach me how?’’
As Bean sat down with the supervisor, it became clear that the individual had no idea who his troops were. He didn’t know their names, and claimed to be an introvert to excuse his lack of insight.
“You can be an introvert, but [supervision is] also just being a good person,” Bean said. “A good leader, a good supervisor is a person. That’s what leading people is: having the passion and willingness to care about what is important to [your troops]. Because if you do, they’re way more willing to [work] for you.”
Bean’s position gives him unique opportunities to mentor Airmen of all ranks. However, one-on-one mentorship is only part of his skillset. As the career assistance advisor he also heads the Cannon Professional Development Center and First Term Airman’s Center.
“Really and truly, when you talk about a mission statement for the PDC as a whole…[it’s] helping Airmen grow,” said Bean. “We offer courses to help bridge you through First Term Airman’s Center to Airman Leadership School, then from Non-Commissioned Officer Academy To Senior Non-Commissioned Officer Academy.”
Bean and his team take the time to learn a plethora of leadership skills, career options and opportunities for Airmen outside their normal jobs. They take those skills and teach them to Airmen through classes, on-demand training, and one-on-one career guidance.
“We are there to host courses to better these individuals, to not only be better Airmen, but better members of society as a whole,” Bean said. “We give an individual the opportunity to learn, to be a leader, a supervisor, a mentor, a better listener and a better speaker.”
The PDC is a team-run organization from top to bottom, but the makeup of the team may surprise some.
Some would think the task of mentoring and training Airmen would take quite a few people, yet Bean is the only one officially assigned to the PDC.
“The team itself for the PDC is not even my team.” Bean explained. “All of our PDC courses, with the exception of maybe one or two, are [because] an [Airman] wrote a course and said, ‘hey, I think this would be a great topic for the PDC.’”
While the team is volunteer-driven, the heart and soul of the PDC is Bean’s leadership and drive. He serves as a learning catalyst for Cannon AFB.
“I provide the space, I provide them the opportunity to talk, I provide them with… everything [they need] so they can get their knowledge out to the base,” Bean said. “If you don’t have that buy-in to what you’re teaching, the material doesn’t necessarily work.”
Bean takes the principles taught in the PDC into real world situations. He regularly ventures around the installation hunting for opportunities to teach, mentor and learn.
“The center itself is more than just those courses,” Bean said. “It’s great that we offer classes, but when you’re talking about retention or helping an Airman grow, the classroom and the classes [aren’t] it. I can’t teach you to be a leader with a slideshow. What I drive myself towards are out and about one-on-one interactions. That is where I get my opportunity to show people their purpose and drive.”
Teaching leadership, teaching followership, and teaching humanity is Bean’s mission as the career assistance advisor. Reach out to Master Sgt. Bean at firstname.lastname@example.org, or at 575-784-7041, to get involved at the PDC or get career advice.
Story by Staff Sgt. Candin Muniz
27th Special Operations Wing Public Affairs