By Lori Kropidlowski, AEI, Sr. BD & Marketing Group Manager
Interview with Karen Morris, Procurement Department Manager for the Ahtna Group of Companies (AES, AEI, AGL, AIT and ASL).
Karen, can you tell us about your department and your team?
When I first started at Ahtna in May 2015, my position had been vacant for over two months. The department was significantly behind and needed processes developed and put into place. There were only two employees, neither of which were shareholders. Once I started digging my heels in, there were many issues that needed to be corrected, cultivated, and implemented.
I envisioned developing a department of motivated, intelligent, and happy employees. We have done an incredible amount of training sessions and webinars to get to where we are at today. With our two recent new hires, I have created my dream team – and all are Ahtna shareholders! It has taken a lot of hard work and dedication to get the department to be a well-groomed, fast-paced procurement steam engine. The department is always extremely busy. We manage all procurement activities for our 5 subsidiaries’ 300-plus active construction, environmental, geomatics, and professional service projects. This includes management of more than 500 subcontractors (and thousands of vendors), for all of our 13 corporate and field office locations. It is our responsibility to assist our Project Managers in keeping their projects moving and profitable.
Let me introduce my incredible team:
Chad Faverty, Contracts Administrator (Naltsiine Clan)
Chad came to us in June 2016 as a Project Assistant I. When he was hired, he came with some accounts payable (AP) experience but none in procurement. Chad absorbed and learned very quickly. He rapidly became a person that we trust and depend upon. In 2019, he was promoted to Contracts Administrator. His responsibilities are to create, process, and track subcontract agreements and change orders. Chad is exceptionally skilled in keeping his workload prioritized, organized, and accurate. Management recognized his contribution and he was selected as a 2020 Employee of the Year.
Rachael Wasson, Procurement Specialist II (Eagle Clan)
Rachael was hired in May 2017 as a Project Assistant I. At that time, she had no procurement experience, but her determination and motivation has proven to be the driving force of our department. She is always thirsty for training, and wants to do more, learn, and grow. She has worked hard to prove herself as a valuable and necessary part of procurement. In April 2019 she was promoted to Procurement Specialist I, and she worked even harder. As she became more comfortable in her new role and learned more about procurement, Rachael started providing great suggestions for improvement to streamline our processes. In 2020, she was again promoted to Procurement Specialist II. Her responsibilities are to prepare purchase orders, subcontract change orders, and maintain procurement’s email inbox. She is the glue that helps keep our department running smoothly.
Melissa Taylor, Procurement Specialist I (Taltsiine Clan)
When I met Melissa, she was the Senior Receptionist for Ahtna, and had been here for nine years. She wanted to do something different but didn’t know exactly what. I encouraged her to apply for a Project Assistant position that the department had open. She applied and was hired in June of 2019. With no previous procurement or AP experience, Melissa has performed her job very well and with steadfast accuracy. During training, she is the one taking detailed notes, paying close attention, and asking questions. Her primary responsibilities are assisting Project Managers with field staff timecards and expense reports, processing purchase orders, and subcontractor pre-qualification packages. She is well liked by all staff and she is a very dedicated worker.
Kaleb Johnson, Procurement Technician III (Naltsiine Clan)
Kaleb began his journey with us in April 2021. He came to us with several years of experience in AP and some with procurement. I hired Kaleb because he was very comfortable and confident in his interview. He is ambitious and was looking for an opportunity for mentorship. In only a few short weeks he already fits right in. He is quickly learning our processes and has done it all with a smile on his face. His primary responsibility is processing invoices against the purchase orders and subcontracts. He has already proved himself to be an asset to our department.
Taliylah Patrick, Procurement Technician III (Udzisyu Clan)
Taliylah has been with Ahtna for a few years. She worked in the AP department and at the front desk prior to applying to the Procurement Department in April 2021. She aspires to grow into a career as a Project Manager, and this was a great place to start while she’s attending college. Taliylah’s responsibilities are processing invoices against the purchase orders and subcontracts, certificates of insurance, and vendor credit applications.
This department underwent many challenges in the beginning, and now here we are, with a dedicated team of professionals, all shareholders. We love what we do and all support each other’s growth and development – and we try to have a little fun along the way! I am so proud of my team and feel lucky to work with such exceptional people.