We met with Sandra Seaton Pina, Chief Contracts Officer to see how she defines success in the Contracts and Procurement (CP) department and to learn more about what leadership means to her.
1. How would you define your role as Chief Contracts Officer and why is it important?
As Chief Contracts Officer, my role is to lead the contracts and procurement activities for the company by managing a diverse portfolio of contracts for Federal, State, and Commercial customers. My team provides expertise in contract and procurement knowledge, risk mitigation, and negotiations. We ensure all contractual requirements are met and are in accordance with company policies and procedures, and regulatory laws.
2. If you could describe Cognosante in one word, what would it be and why?
Inspiring. Cognosante has an inspiring CEO and Founder, Michele Kang, who walks the talk. I am impressed with her commitment to inspire other women leaders and her passion for broadening employee talent and exposure to bigger ideas and opportunities.
3. What is your favorite thing about working at Cognosante?
I enjoy the collaborative work environment and how everyone is willing to lend a helping hand! Cognosante embodies a culture that
keeps employees top-of-mind and makes them feel cared for.
4. What is one thing employees should know about the CP department?
A few months ago, the CP team held a teambuilding session where we discussed the past, present, and future—establishing goals for ourselves and defining where we want to be as a department. We rebranded our ourselves and created this mission statement to clearly define who we are as a valued partner to our internal and external customers:
“[We are on a mission] To drive Cognosante growth by applying diverse integrated skills across contracts and procurement to deliver compliant, compelling, and competitive business solutions for our customers.”
5. How do you define success in the CP Department? Are there any interesting success stories you can share?
Success for the department means creating and empowering the team to make impactful business decisions that are meaningful, ethical, and compliant. I encourage the team to take pride in their accomplishments—be it customer satisfaction mentions, new contract awards, supporting an improvements initiative, or working across functional teams on a project.
Recently, we created 12 new contractual policies and procedures. We held peer review sessions, gave honest feedback, and in the
end, the output was much better due to collaboration and teamwork. I am so proud of the team and what we accomplished.
We are planning another round of updates to written procedures in procurement, training materials, and other departmental enhancements. In addition, we have hired a GWAC Compliance Staff Member to oversee our IDIQ contracts.
6. What does leadership mean to you?
Leadership comprises several traits: accountability, respect for others, effectiveness, and the ability make decisions. In my experience, a successful leader makes thoughtful decisions about an organization’s mission and goals, and properly allocates resources to achieve those directives.
I would say one of my biggest strengths as a leader is accountability (lead by example) and integrity. To me, valuable leadership skills include the ability to inspire and communicate effectively while also being empathetic, patient, trustworthy, and confident. Everyone can be a leader—it’s not just found at the top.
7. What is one interesting/unique fact about yourself?
I am one of four siblings, the second oldest, and the first girl. I was raised in a traditional home, and although I had an older brother, I was often the one my mother put in charge. She always said, “Sandra will figure it out and I know it will get done.” Early on, I learned to be a problem solver and found value in attending to details. As a result, I set high expectations for myself but also know I must manage these expectations with a balanced approach.
I encourage our employees to lead when you are able, take action, and solve problems (no matter how big or small). I think Nelson Mandela summarized leadership best when he said, “Action without vision is only passing time, vision without action is merely Day dreaming, but vision with action can change the world.”