Sahir Patel is an MBA candidate at NC State University. In this blog post, originally published on his LinkedIn page on September 4th, 2019, Sahir reflects on his experience as a statewide procurement intern with the State of Texas, which he completed through the National Association of State Procurement Officers (NASPO), one of the SCRC’s partner companies.
By Sahir Patel
Hard to believe that Summer has gone by! For the internship program, I was in Austin, the live music capital of the world, for a couple of months. Everything in Austin – art, architecture, natural beauty, food, nightlife – is fascinating. Austinites are doing a pretty good job at keeping Austin weird!
Fascinated by the marriage of Finance and Supply Chain in the modern-day world, I decided to go for an internship outside my area of expertise. I interned with the Comptroller of Public Accounts, an executive branch position created by the Texas constitution. The agency is responsible for estimating and collecting revenues, managing fiscal and treasury operations, unsettled property claims, and procurement of IT and non-IT goods for all local and state government agencies in Texas, a $1.7 trillion economy in itself. Another interesting fact about the agency – Texas is building its own state-backed gold depository, the first state to do so in the United States, and the Comptroller is given charge to build and operate the depository.
Excited with the city and facts about the agency, I started my program working for the Data Analytics team in Statewide Procurement Division. The division develops, awards, and manages numerous contracts, of which various local and state government agencies make their purchases. Data Analytics team is mainly responsible for gathering and manipulating past spend data to generate insights and recommendations for Contract Developers. Working as a team member and being treated like a full-time employee helped me learn about Public Procurement. Apart from sharpening my skills in Excel and Access, I learned Tableau during my internship. I was amazed by the level of detail and insights that Tableau can generate, and the impact that it can have in making procurement function more efficient. I built-up on that hands-on experience and got certified as a Tableau Desktop Specialist. I also had a brief exposure to the Contract Development function, re-soliciting multi-million dollar contracts. I thank my manager, Shannon Sobeck, for encouraging me to get Texas Certified Contract Developer badge!
I also met a lot of people working in different areas such as tax collections, and treasury operations. Most fascinating one was revenue estimating – I couldn’t imagine how exciting and intimidating it must be to estimate world oil and gas prices for the next 2 years, especially because the majority of revenue comes from oil and gas, and there is no margin for error!
Overall, this internship improved my learning curve and gave me a lot of networking opportunities in a completely new area for me. A big Texan thank you to everyone who did/ are supporting me through this journey!