Brown-bag lunches offer unique way to mentor at the 409th Contracting Support Brigade
September 23, 2013
KAISERSLAUTERN, Germany - The 409th Contracting Support Brigade here is taking a back-to-basics approach for professional development with brown-bag lunches.
Col. William Bailey, commander, 409th CSB, has been regularly conducting lunches with officers and non commissioned officers as part of a mentoring and professional development initiative.
"This is an opportunity to sit down with our officers, NCOs and civilians in an informal setting to discuss issues that are important to them," Bailey said. "This allows us to conduct professional development and interact in a more relaxed atmosphere."
Bailey got the concept from his time working as the executive officer for Lt. Gen. William Phillips, the principle military deputy director, Office of the Assistant Secretary of the Army (Acquisition, Logistics and Technology).
"Lt. Gen. Phillips conducted these with all of the acquisition colonels in the National Capital Region. I was responsible for setting these up for him and I saw the benefit," remarked Bailey.
The brown-bag luncheons, which are conducted quarterly, are set informally and give the staff an opportunity to discuss a variety of topics. The lunches consist of small peer groups and held with various members of the brigade leadership.
Capt. Tround Ruud, contracting officer, 903rd Contingency Contracting Battalion, likes the luncheons.
"This is a good opportunity to have the face time with the brigade commander, Ruud said. "We get a macro prospective from his insight, and we see the big picture."
Brown-bag luncheons are just one of the professional development opportunities happening at the 409th CSB.
"Often we conduct professional development activities but they are not recognized as such," Bailey explained. "When a supervisor assigns workload that is different or more complex than the individual's normal workload it is a professional development opportunity. When we conduct after-action reviews, those are professional development opportunities as well."
The command also takes advantage of opportunities with senior leaders available in the local area.
"We have invited guest speakers to discuss different perspectives on contracting and leadership, Bailey said. "We had Maj. Gen. Richard Longo, the deputy commanding general of U.S. Army Europe, speak to us about contract corruption. We are always looking for new and unique ways to further develop our workforce. We have to keep it interesting, keep them engaged in order to be value added for both the employee and the command."
"Mentoring is key, but is often misunderstood. Many if not all of our Soldiers have been and are being mentored in an informal way. Formal mentoring is a little different and has more structure involved. I enjoy the mentoring portion of my job more than any other portion," said Bailey.