Q&A with Jeff Kuper, Ivy Johansen Award for Excellence Winner

By Adina Young 05/05/2022
Q&A with Jeff Kuper, Ivy Johansen Award for Excellence Winner

When Jeff Kuper, Senior Manager of Pricing at SourceAmerica, received the Ivy Johansen Award for Excellence, he said, “While it might sound cliché, it really is an honor to just be nominated.” But he really earned this special annual employee award. Named for Ivy Johansen, the CEO of SourceAmerica from 1979-1992, this award recognizes an individual who upholds the highest standards in everything they do. As someone who always strives for excellence and leads by example, Jeff is the epitome of integrity!

Through his solid working relationships with the pricing team and others, Jeff worked hard to identify ways to make the pricing job easier and more efficient for SourceAmerica and its nonprofit agencies. In addition, he created a new team that discusses procedures and issues, helps train each other, and ensures consistent adherence to procedures. Because Jeff believes in the value of teamwork and collaboration, he also became a key driver in putting together and leading the team that created the Air Force Custodial Cost Analysis Tool, which collects pricing data on Air Force custodial projects and analyzes new base year proposals.

Talk about upholding the highest standards in service – Jeff even helped create some of these standards! Here’s what he had to say about the importance of integrity in the workplace:

What does receiving this award mean to you?
While it may sound like a cliché, it really is an honor to just be nominated and winning is just something that is so special. But more than anything, I’m grateful for my great team, because true excellence comes about only as a collaborative effort where we leverage different perspectives to arrive at new and better approaches. I’m very fortunate to have people on my team who believe in striving to make things better for our team, our customers, and the people we serve.

What does the value of “integrity” mean to you?
I think integrity is closely aligned with character, which is what you do when no one is looking. In striving for excellence, I try to lead by example and do both the small things and the more impactful things that make this program work better. Even if the change only impacts one NPA, one customer, just my team, or even if it just impacts the value that I can bring to the program, I try to develop the habit of striving to do incrementally better. While the pricing team has undertaken quite a few improvements in the last couple of years, I think our most successful endeavors happen when we listen to and empower pricing managers to collaborate and come up with new ways of doing things. It’s important to be clear with the team about looking for areas of improvement and then empowering, facilitating, and assisting our project managers to take ownership and make the improvements in a collaborative fashion.

How are you “A Force for Integrity?”
I strive to be honest and ethical in my dealings with all people with whom I interact. But I think, more than anything, I try to align my actions with my words and walk the talk. There’s that famous Ralph Waldo Emerson quote about how people can’t hear what you're saying because your actions are shouting so loudly. And part of having integrity is striving, however imperfectly, to align your actions with your words.

How do you encourage others to be a force for this value and others?
Probably the most important way that we can encourage others to exhibit integrity or any of our other values is to strive to exhibit them ourselves. By living the values, I’m hopeful that it has more impact than by continuously bringing them up in discussions.