SAME’s Communities of Interest provide opportunities for members to become involved nationally with other professionals focused on a particular technical field or demographic within the A/E/C industry. The Enlisted COI provides added value to enlisted SAME members through professional development, credentialing, training, mentoring, and networking; advocates for greater integration of enlisted members across the Society; and acts as a voice for enlisted service members within SAME.

Bricks & Clicks recently chatted with 1st Sgt. Shane Payne, USA, 526th Engineer Construction Company, and Chair of the Enlisted COI, on his areas of focus since taking on the position of COI Chair, lessons learned from the challenges of the pandemic, and how the COI plans to continue to support enlisted SAME members into the future.

Bricks & Clicks: Can you describe the mission of the Enlisted Community of Interest (COI) and the value it provides to its members?

Payne: The Enlisted COI promotes professional development for the Total Force enlisted community; oversees the integration of enlisted members throughout the spectrum of SAME operations; advocates and engages enlisted support of SAME’s Strategic Plan through outreach, training, networking, and recognition; provides value added to enlisted members; mentors enlisted members; and voices and addresses the concerns of enlisted service members. Our BLUF is to take care of enlisted service members across all branches.

Bricks & Clicks: You recently took on the position of Chair of the Enlisted COI. What are your main areas of focus?

Payne: I would lead off with, I have a great support team from SAME National as well as past Chair members that are helping me tackle the challenge of filling some of our vacant positions. The COI is hurting from vacancies in a couple of key positions right now, so to ensure we can run effectively as a COI our main push is ensuring we get the right people in the seats.

Bricks & Clicks: Preparing service members and veterans for the A/E/C industry is one of the main goals of the 2025 SAME Strategic Plan. How is the Enlisted COI addressing this need?

Payne: We are taking every advantage to ensure that service members have access to getting the credentials they need to be successful in their careers after they leave service. The Enlisted COI works with the Young Professionals COI to assist service members through the credentialing process with professional development and financial assistance. Visit the Young Professionals COI Credentialing Committee page to see how we can be of assistance to you.

Bricks & Clicks: How is the Enlisted COI helping increase the presence and integration of enlisted members across the Society? What challenges are there?

Payne: The challenges right now are in ensuring that the Enlisted COI message is getting to members. To address this, we are taking advantage of social media (Facebook and LinkedIn). Once we can get a dedicated member to ensure that communication is happening, I really do think this will help increase the presence and integration of enlisted members. Also, we all understand that COVID has played a huge part in needing to cancel face-to-face events and networking opportunities.

Bricks & Clicks: On that note, how did the COI overcome the challenges of the pandemic? Are there any best practices you plan on continuing in the post-pandemic world?

Payne: COVID was a challenge, but with all of the virtual meeting platforms we were able to continue working, communicating, and participating with SAME events. We really never took a long break—I want to say no longer than two months. What we learned is the value in being flexible. Another good thing that came out of the pandemic was the COI being able to get more involvement from members across the globe. It was nice to see members’ faces, even through screens. The COI still uses virtual meetings, and I think we will continue to use for the foreseeable future.

Bricks & Clicks: As the new Enlisted COI Chair, what are you most excited about?

Payne: I would like to say thanks to everyone who have supported me in taking the position, especially the past Chair Master Sgt. Amanda Jones, USAF. I’m excited to pick up where Amanda left off and put the COI in the best position to be successful. Being the Chair gives me the opportunity to make an impact to so many enlisted members, and I will do my best to ensure that I give them my best every day.

SAME is invested in providing its membership with the tools and resources to develop and advance their careers within the A/E/C industry. The Credentialing Committee, part of the Young Professionals COI, can provide the resources you need to understand the importance of credentials, what credentials apply to the A/E/C industry, and how to get and maintain them. Through programs like the Credentialing Assistance Program, SAME provides education and financial support to members seeking further professional development. Visit the SAME Credentialing Committee and make a move to benefit your career today.