Assistant Chief Financial Officer, City of Stockton
Jayden Sangha felt a calling. The 32-year-old Turlock native was living in San Francisco working in wealth management for a major bank, but he felt confined, inhibited by the scope of the private sector.
“It felt like being a small piece of the big machine that’s being run,” says Sangha, now the City of Stockton’s assistant chief financial officer.
Sangha wanted more: a leadership role with an organization that recognized and served community needs. In 2016 when a position as the portfolio manager of treasury and debt with the City of Stockton opened up, he decided to apply.
Sangha, who has a master’s degree in analytical finance and international business from San Francisco State University, says that the idea of working in Stockton appealed to him on different levels. It brought him closer to family, but it also promised new professional challenges. In 2012, Stockton filed for bankruptcy, making national headlines as the largest United States municipality to do so at the time. In 2015, a judge approved Stockton’s plan to exit bankruptcy and by 2016 the city had achieved fiscal solvency.
The job was “about giving back and making a difference in the community I grew up in,” he says. “It was also about getting a feel of what local government operations are like — a great kind of opening your eyes to this new world, because private sector is very different from the public sector.”
Sangha worked in Stockton for a few years before deciding to take a new opportunity in 2018 as a financial analyst manager for Prince William County in Virginia. That job, he says, proved to be another eye-opening experience.
“Giving back and making a difference in the community I grew up.”Jayden Sangha, Assistant Chief Financial Officer, City of Stockton
“I went from a city that was fighting for bankruptcy and struggling with a lot of operational issues, to one of the top 10 richest counties in the U.S. in terms of its fiscal position,” he says.
Still, Sangha missed California, and in 2019 he returned, this time as the interim treasury director for the San Mateo Transit District. In 2021 he rejoined the City of Stockton. In his current role, Sangha says he’s able to take everything he’s learned in his previous positions to approach his work from a community perspective.
“We’re conservative in terms of the way we need to proceed (financially) going forward; we’re also making great strides in areas that are going to be affecting the community,” he says. “We have a strong process that we follow in terms of managing our funds, revenues, expenditures and budgeting. All of those things are in place because we’ve gone through that difficult time as a city.”
That difficult time, he says, added another layer of work. “We have something of an image issue and we’re working on that,” he says. “We want to be the stewards of the community and the city that we’re part of.”
One ongoing endeavor is to improve employee retention and recruit interns from the University of the Pacific. Sangha likes working with college students — he taught finance at Sacramento State for nearly four years before the commute became too much.
Sangha, who enjoys wine tasting when he’s not working, says he hopes to one day return to teaching. Until then, he’s focused on continuing to advocate for the city he loves, in a job that holds true to his calling. Stockton, he says, faces continued financial challenges brought upon by the pandemic, but he’s confident the city can weather any hardships.
“There are ongoing things we have to work on,” he says. “But I feel strongly that we’re in really good shape as a city.”
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