Paying it forward with a Brandman education
When Wayne Greene was working toward his master’s in organizational leadership (M.A.O.L.), he found the real-world scenarios and experiences his instructors talked about helped him most.
So it didn’t come as complete surprise to him when he switched roles and started teaching a team-building course at Brandman that the students in his class were most interested in what he had been through.
“It’s a good circle of giving and taking,” said Greene, who retires this year from the Air Force with 25 years of experience, most recently with a rank of senior master sergeant and the role of superintendent for nutritional medicine at Travis Air Force Base in Northern California.
Greene will soon head off to Texas with his wife and two children where he hopes eventually to start his own business consulting on workforce development and diversity training. But he didn’t want to leave before letting others know about how important it is to take advantage of the education benefits offered through military service and how what he learned at Brandman has benefited him.
“For active duty military, as you move up in rank, you’re obligated to take care of the people who are your responsibility. It’s also important to always grow and learn for yourself,” he said.
“The Air Force gave me a lot of good leadership tips along the way, but the M.A.O.L. program helped me internalize and really understand the theories and how they’ve evolved over time. When you learn and delve that deeply into a concept or theory, that’s how you can most effectively use it.”
As superintendent for nutritional medicine, Greene supervises about 70 employees who range in age from 18 to 70, include a mix of military and civilians with educational backgrounds that include barely graduating from high school to Ph.D.s. Their duties include patient feeding, staff feeding, a performance nutrition team and an outpatient nutrition clinic.
For Greene, the big question was how to get a diverse group of people on the same page, share the same vision and work toward it.
“Each course that I took, I purposely tried to make my work center the focus of each project. If it was a lesson in change management, I would really focus on what I could work on in my department,” he said. “It was a lot of fun. Read, write about it class and then use it during the day.”
He learned to take a more intellectual approach with some people and a more “personable” approach with others to help them focus on the operation and how they impacted the overall mission and fit into the organization. Including representatives of every group in the decision-making also helped his group make strategic changes.
“You have to follow-up. It’s one thing to invite them to the table, but you have to involve them in the process. If there’s a change that needs to be made, they have to have a say in it. Lots of times they’re the sales person for that change. You gain more support that way.”
Expanding on his education, despite a demanding job and young family, was a big confidence booster, he added. “I think if you’re in a leadership position, it’s your responsibility to better your leadership skills. The diploma is great, but the real value is what I accomplished with it.”
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