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News | Jan. 31, 2023

PaCE Spotlight: Aaron Bunn

By Liz Norvey DLA Disposition Services Pathways to Career Excellence Program

Defense Logistics Agency Disposition Services’ Aaron Bunn works for the Environmental Branch in Battle Creek, Michigan, as an environmentalist. He participated in the Pathways to Career Excellence Program as a part of PaCE Group 34, from 2017 - 2019.

Describe your current position in a couple of sentences, and how being in the PaCE program affected you in that position.

I am an Environmental Protection Specialist working with Hazardous Material Management System – Hazardous Waste Disposition system. This includes troubleshooting and serving as a report writer supporting the field, DLA Disposition Services Headquarters, DLA, the military branches, and outside agencies. I gravitated to the environmental side during my PaCEr rotation through Environmental Support Branch.

In your own words, how would you describe the PaCE program, and what can you gain from it?

The PaCE program is a unique experience that includes one-on-one sessions with senior leadership, visiting sites and meeting many different folks in DLA, learning how to brief and a unique understanding of all processes in DLA Disposition Services that many do not get that training for.

Why did you first apply to the PaCE Program?

I wanted to get into federal service because I already had 10 years of military service – U.S. Air Force. My motivation for a federal position was to use that time toward retirement and the benefits that come with a federal job. 

What was your position before coming to the PaCE Program?

Before the PaCE Program, I worked at a medical instruments company as a buyer.

What have been your favorite parts of the PaCE Program?

My favorite part of the PaCE program is the chance to travel and meet many different folks that I would not have had the opportunity of doing, if not for the program. I went to DLA headquarters at Fort Belvoir, Virginia, with DLA Disposition Services Director Mike Cannon and met all the senior leadership. Additionally, I enjoyed learning about DLA Disposition Services because I had little prior knowledge of the business.

Do you have a favorite memory from your time in the program?

My favorite memories were getting to know fellow PaCErs and building friendships with a few that continue to this day.

If there was one thing that could’ve been different for you in the PaCE program, what would it be?

I thought the briefings were a bit too frequent for our class - we completed three in front of Mr. Cannon. I think one at the end of the first year would have been a better scope of learning and made it easier to understand how the different areas work together.

What would you say is the most important quality to succeed in the PaCE program?

The perseverance to understand that time in the first year will be over quick enough and you will learn your job in the field. The first year is to make connections and understand how headquarters supports the field.

What have you done since you finished with the PaCE Program?

I was a speaker at the first annual Contracting Officer Representative training seminar in July 2020 in Battle Creek. The week-long training included 45 CORs from around the world.

Where did you see yourself going when you first started, and how does that compare to where you are now?

This is where I saw myself going, it might have been in a different job, but in the Environmental Support Branch Operations.

Do you have any advice for current or prospective PaCERs?

Keep your head up and give yourself some grace. Nobody expects you to remember everything you sit through during the “firehose” training rotations. 

Editorial Note: The Pathways to Career Excellence Program for DLA Disposition Services is a two-year program that takes PaCERs through all of Disposition Services and its processes to learn as much as possible about the directorate. The first year takes place at DLA Disposition Services Headquarters in Battle Creek, Michigan, and the second year either takes place in Battle Creek for Contracting PaCERs or at an assigned field site for Property Disposal PaCERs. PaCERs begin as general schedule 7s, move to GS-9s at the end of their first year, and graduate the program as GS-11s. There are multiple pathways to becoming a PaCER, including being hired internally, as a recent graduate, or from military service.