AFLCMC Executive Director provides encouragement to junior employees Published April 5, 2023 By Sarah Gwaltney, WPAFB Junior Force Council WRIGHT-PATTERSON AFB, (Ohio) – Kathy Watern, a member of the Senior Executive Service (SES) and AFLCMC Executive Director, recently met with nearly 100 members of the Wright-Patterson AFB Junior Force Council on March 24 at AFIT’s Bane Auditorium. Watern spoke to the group about mentorship and career advice. This was the first Junior Force Council in-person event since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic. Ms. Watern began her talk by commenting on AFLCMC’s recent in-person hiring event that drew around 2,500 job seekers. She explained the job seekers were lining up for the same career opportunities held by Junior Force members. “I can’t think of a better place to work," Watern said from the AFIT stage. "I’ve worked in industry, but there’s something special about the government. It’s not a job - it’s a career. What we do makes us unrivaled. Go to the flight line and see all the F15s, F-16s, and F-22s and realize that all came out of this Center.” She advised everyone to take time to reflect on career goals. “If your ambition is to advance in the Air Force, be intentional about taking diverse assignments," explained Watern. "Get acquisition experience and installation experience. Study topics that are important to the Air Force and to the Department of Defense. Read about what the Secretary of the Air Force is saying and study the business of acquisition... industry’s role and their challenges... to best prepare for the future.” Ms. Watern shared that her career-defining position was serving as the Chief Financial Officer of the F-22 program. She traveled frequently to the Pentagon to support program execution. “It was a very intense time for the F-22," admits Watern. "I had an amazing team. There was no playbook at times, and I was challenged to make a lot of important decisions." She used her F-22 experience story to illustrate the point of embracing challenges and learning from difficult decisions. The meeting concluded with Ms. Watern encouraging the young professionals in attendance to stay connected and continue supporting each other in their career journeys. “You’re not ‘future’ leaders... you’re leaders right now. And there are opportunities everywhere!" Watern exclaimed. For more information on Junior Force Council events, email AFLCMCJFC@us.af.mil.