JOINT BASE PEARL HARBOR-HICKAM, Hawaii -- An Airman from the 792nd Intelligence Support Squadron was recently presented with the Air Combat Command’s 2018 Outstanding Airmen of the Year award.
Staff Sgt. George Skon received the award from former ACC command chief, Chief Master Sgt. Frank Batten, during the 480th ISR Wing’s annual award ceremony at Joint Base Langley-Eustis, Virginia, May 29.
The award is given to 12 enlisted Airmen who go above and beyond what their job entails, what others expect of them, and give fellow Airmen a blueprint of how to excel and embody the whole Airman concept.
As a Knowledge Management Technician, SharePoint and process improvement specialist, Skon innovated an emergency service web platform that Headquarters Air Force fire chief selected as the Air Force model. By directing a 25 unit digital routing system Continuous Processing Improvement team, he slashed processing time from seven days to three and saved 12 thousand hours per year. Additionally, Skon led a 14 member CPI team that developed best practices for 152,000 patients; earned an industry process management certificate, which he used to cut project times from eight months to one; and had two of his projects highlighted by U.S. Air Forces Europe, culminating in his winning the 692nd ISR group’s Airman of the Quarter.
Skon credits past teachings from his supervisors for helping get him to point he is today in his career.
“One of the most impactful memories in my career was while I was stationed at Osan,” said Skon. “I was an airman basic and my team was tasked with cleaning part of the building, and I was struggling to see why it was important. My supervisor was working with us and said something along the lines of ‘Skon, this stuff doesn’t always make sense - but if I’m mopping, I’m going to be the best mopper in the Air Force’. That stuck with me - his attitude of learning to do a job well, even if it’s not part of our training plan or primary duties.
“I joined in 2014, because I wanted to get out of my home state and see more of the world,” he added. “The Air Force helped me do that by sending me to South Korea within 6 months of enlisting. Before joining, I knew almost nothing about the military, but was almost instantly plugged in to a different world. The opportunities I have been provided since joining have been second-to-none.”
His favorite aspect of the job includes working with people and the learning new processes.
“Part of knowledge management is learning how information flows within an organization, and using Continuous Process Improvement and Lean principles to ensure things are effective,” Skon said. “I love finding ambiguous processes and clarifying them; things like helping a task go from a 30 percent defect rate and 40 man-hours a month to a 1 percent defect rate and 4 man-hours is highly satisfying.”
His impact to the mission is noted by wingmen in his command, and this award solidifies his headwork and dedication to his unit.
“Staff Sgt. Skon was the perfect candidate this year’s recognition, and for a knowledge manager to be recognized at such a high level was incredible humbling,” said Tech. Sgt. Sean Connolly, 792nd ISS and Skon’s supervisor. “His constant optimism and his range of non-standard skill have revitalized interest of the knowledge manger’s capacities in relation to our mission set. He is a constant reminder of what it means to be a professional Airman, and sets a high standard for all of teammates to live up to.”
Though this may have been an individual award, Skon realized he would not have gotten so far without the guidance of past and present supervisors and co-workers.
“From records and Privacy Act to different versions of SharePoint, our career field is vast and expectations can vary,” said Skon. “Due to that variability, our teams need to be agile and ready to take on any project in the blink of an eye. I feel incredibly grateful to have been surrounded by noncommissioned officers and Airmen who embrace the tumultuous waters of knowledge management.”