Sharon Jones Carries The Torch At DISA
Sharon Jones met her hero. It was in 1999, when she interviewed for a job at the Defense Information Systems Agency. Fast-forward 18 years, and Jones recently was honored with an award named for the very woman who, years earlier, inspired her.
This year Jones, now director of the DISA’s Office of Small Business Programs, received the Tracey L. Pinson Small Business Professional of the Year Vanguard Award in recognition of her commitment to the Defense Department’s small business mission—an award she was not even aware of receiving until two weeks before the April ceremony.
“Tracey helped me understand why it’s important to support small business programs,” Jones says.
Jones met Pinson in 1999, delighted to meet a female African-American SES (Senior Executive Service).
“I feel like I need to carry the torch,” Jones says about receiving the Vanguard award that honors Pinson, a former director of the Office of Small Business Programs in the Office of the Secretary of the Army who passed away in 2014.
The DOD’s Small Business Vanguard Awards Program extols professionals who influence small business participation in defense procurement. In fiscal year 2016, the department procured 22.95 percent of all DOD prime contracting with small businesses, exceeding the goal of 21.26 percent for the third consecutive year, according to the Director of Acquisition Career Management office.
This is the second year the Defense Department has awarded the small business achievement. While Jones is the second recipient, she is the first female to receive the honor. The 2016 Vanguard award was given to the Department of Army.
“I’ve never been ‘the first’ with anything,” Jones jokes. “But I don’t think gender really matters with this award, I am just honored.”
Four employees, including Jones, comprise DISA’s Office of Small Business Programs. The team works by three rules to stay successful: Take care of details, make everyday a small business day and always help others in DISA, Jones says. “They give their heart,” she comments. “I have a very good team.”
Jones didn’t set out to receive the Vanguard award, but keen mission focus likely contributed to her obtaining it.
She pays attention to leading technology trends and incorporating them into the agency’s mission, making sure to highlight small business. Her team also aims to be as personable as possible, because that stands out in business relations, she says.
Winning this award raised the caliber for the office, and Jones says she aims to keep improving how she runs her office.
Numbers show improvement and Jones has the digits to back up her accomplishments. “We went from bringing in $352 million in the early 2000s to bringing in about $1.5 billion now for small businesses,” Jones says.
Jones oozes gratitude for the Vanguard Award and claims there is no secret to her success; she simply carries out the duties of her position.
“I guess my secret is my team and I always try to be as personal and professional as possible with anyone we work with,” Jones reveals. “The service we provide is important.”