This week we caught up with Jason Soza, Chief Procurement Officer for the State of Alaska.
Jason has served as Alaska’s Chief Procurement Officer (CPO) since 2013. As CPO, he and his staff work to ensure understanding of and compliance with the laws and regulations that govern procurement for the State of Alaska, while also always looking for ways to do things better. Jason has nearly 20 years of experience in purchasing at all levels, from the front lines of an agency to his position now as CPO. Jason is a member and board member of NASPO and is NASPO’s President-elect for 2019.
NASPO STAFF: Jason, you have been heavily involved with NASPO since you joined us in 2013. Why do you value your membership with NASPO?
JASON SOZA: There are just so many reasons. Between the educational opportunities and resources, the networking, and the support, NASPO allows me and my team to do our jobs better and more efficiently. I’m not overstating it when I say we wouldn’t be where we are without NASPO.
NASPO STAFF: If I were a fly on the wall in Jason’s office, what would I hear and see every day? Walk me through a day in the life as the CPO for the state of Alaska.
JASON SOZA: Well, depending on the day, I may not be in my office much! I try to get up and visit with my awesome team and of course, there are always meetings. No matter where I’m at though, a typical day is basically a game of “Stump the CPO”–lots of questions from lots of different folks about anything remotely procurement-related. I love it.
In between the questions, I’ll put my earbuds in and rock out while I strategize and plan out the next steps needed to take procurement in Alaska to the next level!
NASPO STAFF: As CPO, your days are probably filled with multiple priorities. What has been your biggest challenge since stepping into the chief procurement officer role, and how has that affected how you manage an office that is faced with frequent procurement challenges?
JASON SOZA: Probably the biggest challenge—which is also our biggest opportunity—has been the implementation of Alaska’s first e-procurement system. We literally went from paper to electronic overnight in 2015. We are working hard to leverage that system to its full capability, which includes not only the transparency, accountability, and automation of data collection, but also the alignment of our various executive branch agencies to amplify the efficiency of the system.
In terms of how that affects how we manage in the face of frequent procurement challenges, it’s basically a backdrop to everything else we do. Anytime we can highlight a benefit or demonstrate a success with our system, we make
NASPO STAFF: Name one accomplishment throughout your entire procurement career that you are most proud of.
JASON SOZA: As of this year’s Annual Meeting, my proudest moment is being able to accept the Gold Cronin Award on behalf of everyone in Alaska that had hand in making it happen! That was a great moment, knowing that all the work that went into—and continues—on those efforts was recognized and rewarded. Our team here was ecstatic when I let them know we’d won.
Of course, right up there is another thing that happened at this year’s Annual Meeting: being elected as NASPO President-elect for 2019. I am incredibly humbled to have earned the trust and confidence of the association to take on the presidency in 2020 and will do everything I can to continue advancing NASPO’s mission and vision. I look forward to giving back to an association that has given me so much.
NASPO STAFF: Any words of wisdom, things you’d like to share with our Procurement Pulse blog community and procurement professionals around the country?
JASON SOZA: Respect failure, don’t fear it. We’ll never elevate our profession if we are afraid to try new things and trying new things doesn’t have to be an all-or-nothing deal. We can be thoughtful in how we implement a new approach, process, or technology and build on small successes, all while still being careful custodians of public funds and working within our laws.
NASPO STAFF: What do you enjoy doing in your free time?
JASON SOZA: Oh jeez, I have a ton of hobbies. My favorite pastime is spending time with my family; they keep me grounded and remind me to relax once in a while. Along with that, I am also an avid home chef and love making delicious food—mostly because I love eating delicious food. I also enjoy playing hockey, traveling, reading, photography, carpentry, programming, fishing, skydiving… the list goes on.
NASPO STAFF: Easter candy or Halloween candy?
JASON SOZA: Easter, for sure. You get the same Halloween candy selection, just bunny-shaped, plus you have the added bonus of Cadbury Crème Eggs—and you don’t have to dress up and ask for any of it!
NASPO STAFF: If you could have any superpower, what would it be?
JASON SOZA: Great question. It’s a toss-up between the ability to fly and time travel. Wait, this is my answer, why does it have to be a toss-up!? My superpower would be flying time traveler!