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Reflecting on being WOAF

The position of Warrant Officer of the Air Force (WOAF) is special. As a Senior Non-Commissioned Officer (SNCO), I always wanted to be a Warrant Officer.

17 December, 2021

I wanted to represent people through positive influence and be part of change that will make an impact and improve our Air Force.

It has been a privilege to represent you, our Air Force people, as your Senior Enlisted Leader. To achieve this appointment is a career highlight and I am especially proud to have balanced raising my two sons, who I am incredibly proud of, while being able to accomplish a successful Air Force career. There have been sacrifice and challenges along with wonderful opportunities and a sense of achievement.

People and culture are at the core of the WOAF role. It is a role of influence, one that listens, connects, builds and maintains relationships and one that takes action. The past four years have raced by and I have kept my foot on the accelerator right to the end. I am passionate about continuous learning and professional development and this has been a focus. As sponsor of promotion courses and recruit training, I have been eager to influence the best quality training for our people. Project Mana Tangata provided the vehicle for improvements and as a result, all courses have been refreshed. When I have visited the courses, I have been thankful for course members to be open and straightforward, to tell it like it is.

The power of connecting through networks is well known. I was pleased to sponsor a leadership conference series: Warrant Officer Conference (2018), Junior Leaders Forum (2019) and the SNCO Leadership Forum (2021). This was a way I could give something tangible to our enlisted cadre and get them in front of senior leadership. All conferences had a common theme: informing Air Force current priorities and command intent, discussing challenges and opportunities, and providing tools and skills to navigate them. The valuable networking these conferences provided also created new cohorts of people to bounce off and develop peer mentors.

I believe in the strength of a diverse and inclusive workforce. Diversity of thought benefits planning and contributes to operational effectiveness. Inclusion enables people to feel accepted and empowered to work together for common goals. In 2018, we developed the Air Force Creed, a belief statement that describes what it means to be an Airman, binds us together and acknowledges our sense of duty and shared purpose. What is great about the creed is that it was developed by you, for you.

In 2019, we introduced the facial hair policy, quite a culture change but very well received and a huge boost to morale. Despite the fact that I can’t grow facial hair, this has been a highlight!

Connecting through relationships and engaging with people has been very rewarding. Visits with Air Cadets, accompanying our Invictus whanau to both Toronto and Sydney Invictus Games, award ceremonies and parades celebrating success, Base visits, international engagement and of course our exceptional recipients of “Airman of the Year”. I wish to specially mention the recipients I have worked alongside: Carlin O’Neill, Kim Gilbert, Reiner Angelo and Dennis Tommy. They have great character, demonstrate competence and have been an inspiration to me.

I have a lot to be grateful for, it is worth pausing and considering this as we don’t always invest in reflection time and appreciate what we have. I am thankful for this fulfilling opportunity, I have thoroughly enjoyed being the current custodian of the WOAF role and will treasure this experience always.