Q & A With CIRAS Government Contracting Director, Jodi Essex

Q: Tell me about your role at CIRAS and the type of clients you work with.

Jodi Essex, Government Contracting Director

A: I am currently serving as the Program Director for the APEX Accelerator program that assists businesses with selling their products and services to government agencies.  I primarily support a team of government contracting specialists that provide one-on-one counseling, training events and networking opportunities to businesses.  Our team works with business from various industries:  IT, construction, engineering, manufacturing, and professional services.

Q: What is the best part of your job?

A: I really enjoy being part of a broader mission to serve our country and local business community.  I also love when I hear about a success that a client had and knowing that while they did all the work, I might have played a small part in their success.

Q: What are the benefits of working with the government?

A: Most business sell business-to-business or business-to-consumer.  Deciding to sell business-to-government helps diversify your portfolio of clients and just might help your business stay afloat during a recession or a pandemic.

Q: What traits or resources does a company need to be successful in the government contracting sector?

A: A business needs many things to be a successful government contractor:  a viable government market, a competitive edge, past performance, an understanding of procurement process and the ability to comply with the various regulations.  However, the two most important traits are ones we cannot teach:  patience and perseverance.

Q: Some companies can struggle to win awards. What are the common reasons?

A: If you are bidding on contracts and not winning, there could be several reasons.  It could be that the business lacks past performance and can’t prove their ability to do the work.  It could also be that they haven’t articulated their value proposition or clearly expressed why they should be chosen over their competitor.  Or it could simply be that they put forth a great proposal, and just missed out based on pricing.  Regardless the reason, it’s extremely important to follow-up with the agency and find out “why” your proposal wasn’t accepted so you can make improvements for next time.

Q: What would you say to someone that is hesitant to get started?

A: Know that you have the support of our team of government contracting specialists. We want to see you succeed as much as you do.

Q: What do you think the future of government contracting holds for businesses?

A: I think the future of government contracting looks promising.  The government is pushing to create more opportunities for small diverse businesses.  They are also looking for new innovative technologies that can help us stay ahead of our adversaries and creating simplified pathways for those companies to work with the government.

To be contacted by your Regional Government Contracting Specialist, submit a Request for Counseling.