HomeNewsFeaturesDisplay

Elevator pitch perfect for MacDill Airman

U.S. Air Force Senior Airman William Eldridge, a 6th Contracting Squadron contracting specialist poses for a photo Aug. 15, 2019 at MacDill Air Force Base, Fla.  Eldridge supported Air Force level Small Business Innovation Research events in Austin, Texas, and Boston, awarding nearly $149.5 million in contracts to developers. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Shannon Bowman)

U.S. Air Force Senior Airman William Eldridge, a 6th Contracting Squadron contracting specialist poses for a photo Aug. 15, 2019 at MacDill Air Force Base, Fla. Eldridge supported Air Force level Small Business Innovation Research events in Austin, Texas, and Boston, awarding nearly $149.5 million in contracts to developers. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Shannon Bowman)

Elevator pitch perfect for MacDill Airman --

The innovative ideas of Airmen are critical tools in improving the capabilities and effectiveness of the Air Force. An idea can be presented while speaking to a supervisor about difficulties in the work shop, or in rare instances ideas are shared during an elevator pitch to an Air Force senior leader.

This was the case for Senior Airman William Eldridge, a 6th Contracting Squadron contracting specialist, when given a unique opportunity to serve as a liaison to Lt. Gen. Jerry Harris, the Air Force Deputy Chief of Staff for Plans and Programs during the June CORONA South Conference, at MacDill Air Force Base, Florida.

Eldridge spoke to Harris while carrying his bags at the MacDill Inn and presented some of the innovative concepts that have been implemented by the 6th CONS including MacDill’s own Pitch Day.

Eldridge said that the interaction set the course for him to support the Air Force Personnel Center’s contracting career field team at an AFWERX Small Business Innovation Research program in Austin, Texas.

“Our objective was to push out as many contracts as possible in a short amount of time to small business developers whose projects can ultimately help support Air Force priorities,” said Eldridge.  “In the Austin SBIR event we awarded 20 contracts for $9.5 million.”

Through his bold leadership, Eldridge was able to take charge of a team of higher ranking Airman resulting in one of the best run SBIR events to date, said Lt. Col. Brian Sheehan, the 6th CONS commander.

“Senior Airman Eldridge did a great job in Austin and his performance impressed the team so much that they requested he support another SBIR event in Boston,” said Sheehan.

During the Boston SBIR event, Eldridge said he was given a lead role and his team awarded many more contracts than in Austin.

“The numbers are not official yet but it’s estimated that in one week we awarded 400 contracts for about $140 million,” said Eldridge.

Noting the similarities between MacDill’s Pitch Day on Aug. 1 with the national SBIR events, Eldridge stated that he is motivated to help with future pitch day efforts.

“Having participated in national innovation and research programs, I can apply my experience to help with future pitch day events and continue to improve things at MacDill,” said Eldridge.

According to Sheehan, when Airmen in the junior enlisted tier are empowered, they can be a driving force for positive change in their units.  However, when these Airmen want to present an idea to leadership they should do their homework, and be willing to assume calculated risk, Sheehan stated.

“Success is what happens when preparedness meets opportunity, and not everything you present to leadership will be enacted,” said Sheehan. “Do not be afraid of no, but when you hear it, learn from your mistakes and continue to push the envelope, fall forward, not back. Remember change is hard, but worth the effort.”