From left, Exchange Chief Operating Officer Jason Rosenberg, Stuttgart Exchange General Manager Sandra Reed, KMCC Administrative Assistant Birgit Scholz, Region Food Business Manager Thaise Jennings and Melisa Rosenberg.

Q&A with the Exchange’s New COO: Meet Jason Rosenberg

Jason Rosenberg is the Army & Air Force Exchange Service’s new chief operating officer.

Jason Rosenberg, former senior vice president of Europe/Southwest Asia Region, is the Army & Air Force Exchange Service’s new chief operating officer. The Exchange Post talked with Rosenberg to learn more about his 31 years of service to the Exchange, his family serving family spirit and what lies ahead.

How did you first hear of the Exchange?

Some of my earliest memories are shopping at the Exchange. I was an Army brat growing up in Germany. Back then, there were a lot more military installations there, and weekends were all about going from Exchange to Exchange to shop at all the installations in the area. As a kid, the Exchange was the place to get video games or sneakers or the best milkshakes and burgers around at the “Snack Bar.” My mom and grandmother were avid Exchange shoppers and I always came along. I even remember all-nighters for Ramstein’s midnight madness sales!

When did you start working for the Exchange?

I was getting close to graduating high school in Germany, and my dad told me I wouldn’t have a [base] ID card once I graduated unless I got a job or went to college. I wasn’t ready for college at the time, and my dad mentioned that you get an ID card if you work for the Exchange. I applied and, after a few weeks of bugging the store manager at Kreuzberg (Zweibrucken) about my application, I was hired as a summer hire custodial worker. I quickly moved to sales associate and worked in Sight & Sounds [the PowerZone] and had a blast doing that. After a couple years, things were going well, and I began to think about this as a career. At age 22, I had my first PCS as a manager with the Exchange and that was when I was locked in. I knew I wanted to do this. My goal was to one day be a main store manager.

How is your family connected to the military?

Everybody in my family served. My grandfather served in the Army. He met and married my grandmother in Germany after World War II. My uncle served in the Air Force, my aunt was a military spouse, my dad served in the Air Force for more than two decades, and my stepdad served 22 years in the Army.

I wanted to serve the military, but I knew active-duty military wasn’t for me, so the Exchange was a perfect fit. Like [Exchange Director/CEO] Tom [Shull] says, there really is no greater honor than serving those who serve.

What was your most recent position before becoming chief operating officer?

I served as the Vice President for Europe/Southwest Asia for three years prior to assuming the Senior Vice President position in 2017.

How many different places have you lived during your Exchange career? Where was your favorite?

I’ve been assigned to 13 different locations. I’ve never had a bad assignment, but my 2004 deployment to Iraq was a favorite. It was such a special assignment. Anyone who deploys talks about what it means. Soldiers are so grateful for that taste of home that the Exchange brings to deployed locations. It’s such a humbling and gratifying experience. And it was such an adventure! From the helicopter flights to working with our associates from all over the world on the ground. It’s something I will tell my grandchildren about one day.

I also loved my Europe assignment. It’s home for me having grown up there.  Being deployed or overseas, you really see the meaning of the Exchange for troops and families away from home. It magnifies the mantra of “We go where you go!”

Every assignment was special to me and I’m still in touch with people from every place I’ve been. These are the people and teams that have made me the leader and operator I am today. There is a piece of every one of those teams engrained in me.

What do you hope to bring to your new role?

My goal is always to leave a place better than I found it—an aggressive goal because we already do things that no company in the world does.

We’re in great shape thanks to Tom and [former COO] Dave [Nelson]. I want to keep building on what they’ve built and pay forward everything I’ve received in my 31 years with the Exchange. I want to continue to “build the bench,” helping develop and shape our future leaders in the organization, with diversity at the forefront. I’d like to see even greater gender and race diversity at all levels of leadership while continuing to drive our business growth in every channel. The goal is to make sure we’re strong for the next 125 years.

What’s ahead for the Exchange?

We’re going to keep expanding the ways we support our military—expanding our food portfolio, services and wellness options as well as adapting to the “new norm” in retail. We want to strengthen the Exchange from a business perspective—whenever we increase earnings, we increase dividends and organizational relevancy to shoppers and stakeholders.

You’ve been transitioning into the COO position amid the COVID-19 pandemic. How has that affected your approach?

COVID-19 has truly changed the world. One of my first objectives as COO was to visit a lot of the CONUS Exchanges I haven’t seen or don’t have much familiarity with, but I haven’t been able to do that due to the pandemic. We’re finding ways around the challenges posed by the virus. Take Microsoft Teams as an example—we’ve demonstrated that we can have productive online meetings, do virtual visits and host online award ceremonies, often with even greater flexibility than before.

From a business standpoint, by the time the pandemic is over—whenever that is—the retail landscape is going to look very different. We’ve already seen things like incredible spikes in demand for contactless shopping, home delivery and curbside pickup. Shoppers were already shifting more and more toward online, but COVID-19 has accelerated that behavior by at least five to seven years.

There will be a lot of unknowns, but the good news is the Exchange is weathering the storm—that’s what we do. We’re the combat retailer. We’ve been adjusting and have been able to do so without layoffs or furloughs. We’re still here, and we’re still going strong.

What do you like best about working for the Exchange?

Hands-down, the best part is the mission. Our mission of giving back and supporting troops is what makes us different from everybody else. A lot of people say they support the troops—and they do!—but everything we do is for our military. Whether getting a haircut, stopping for gas, grabbing food or buying a TV, the troops depend on the Exchange. And it doesn’t stop there. We give all the earnings back. The combat retail aspect of it is truly special. When I meet former military and they find out where I work, they all say the same thing: They remember when they were deployed and the Exchange was there for them. Our associates are cut from the same cloth as the military. Their loyalty and dedication is unsurpassed. The Exchange is truly family to me and I couldn’t imagine working anywhere else.

What are some of your favorite hobbies and activities outside of work?

I’m a big football and soccer fan. To unwind, I play a little FIFA soccer on my PlayStation every night!

I love to travel with my family—my wife, Melisa, who is a former Exchange associate I met in Iraq, and our two daughters Izabella and Madisyn, ages 12 and 14. I’m proud to say I’ve been to 51 different counties in my travels, and while COVID-19 slowed us down, we’re not done seeing the world yet. Family is extremely important to me and they’ve been amazing in supporting me along this journey. I would not be where I am today without them.

 

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22 Comments

  1. Susan Kolbe on November 9, 2020 at 12:49 pm

    Really enjoyed reading this Q & A session for out new COO! Jason – many congratulations from – Team Mildenhall On Point!!!

    Susan Kolbe

  2. Susan Kolbe on November 9, 2020 at 12:50 pm

    Really enjoyed reading this Q & A session about our new COO!

    Jason – many congratulations from – Team Mildenhall On Point!!!

    Susan Kolbe

    • Lisa Ferguson on November 9, 2020 at 4:14 pm

      Thank you for your feedback, Susan, and best wishes from the Mildenhall team.

  3. Stephen Hinkle on November 9, 2020 at 4:37 pm

    Congratulations Jason

    • Lisa Ferguson on November 10, 2020 at 7:45 am

      Thank you, Stephen.

  4. KAYREN McDUFFIE on November 10, 2020 at 12:32 am

    Congratulations Jason! The team members at Fort Lee still talk about the positive influence you had over them! Good luck in your new position and continue to stay safe!!

  5. Coltro Claudia on November 10, 2020 at 12:38 am

    I had the opportunity to meet Mr. Jason many times during his visits at Aviano Main Store Italy and I am very happy for his new assignment. He really deserves it. I really enjoined reading all his experience at the Exchange and how he started. I wish him good luck!

    • Lisa Ferguson on November 10, 2020 at 7:47 am

      Thank you, Claudia, for wishing Mr. Rosenberg well in his new role.

  6. Ursula Roldan on November 10, 2020 at 1:53 am

    Congratulations Jason! They picked the best for this position and I know, even in a perfect place there is place for improvement. You will find those places and make things more perfect.
    I wish you the best and stay safe! ….your Followers …Ursula with Stephan

    • Lisa Ferguson on November 10, 2020 at 7:47 am

      Thank you, Ursula. We agree!

  7. Pini Duverney on November 10, 2020 at 10:16 am

    I agree with the comment from Ursula, they pick the best leader to lead us in this difficult times. I had the pleasure of working for Jason while station in Hawaii. He has been the best boss I have ever work for. Congratulations Jason

    • Lisa Ferguson on November 10, 2020 at 11:48 am

      Thank you, Pini, for sharing about your experience working alongside Mr. Rosenberg in Hawaii.

  8. Lewis Plotts on November 12, 2020 at 5:31 am

    Awesome story! Thank you for sharing. It means so much to employees all around the world.

    • Lisa Ferguson on November 12, 2020 at 8:20 am

      Thank you, Lewis. Glad you enjoyed the story.

  9. Wolf Ulrike on November 12, 2020 at 8:42 am

    Congratulation Mr. Rosenberg.

    • Lisa Ferguson on November 12, 2020 at 9:51 am

      Thank you, Wolf.

  10. Charles Raulerson on December 5, 2020 at 8:04 am

    Jason, congratulations I always new you would be the next COO.
    I miss serving the greatest group of fighting women and men on the planet.
    You guys are so lucky, “There truly is no greater honor than serving those who serve”.

    Take Care…

    Chuck

    • Lisa Ferguson on December 7, 2020 at 7:46 am

      Thank you, Charles. We wholeheartedly agree!

  11. William Shaw on December 18, 2020 at 2:25 pm

    My name William D Shaw, like to make comment about the an incident that happened on December 18, 2020. I am retired in military I go to affes a lot since I been out. I notice that majority of managers staff are not professional and very intimidating and the way they approached customers. Because the way I was approached,
    Customer approached was very poor

    • William Shaw on December 18, 2020 at 3:03 pm

      Manager cannot resolved the situation/request by the customer (me) so, she called the military police for emergency to apprehend me for asking.

      • Lisa Ferguson on December 18, 2020 at 3:33 pm

        Thank you, Mr. Shaw. Can you please advise at which store this occurred?

    • Lisa Ferguson on December 18, 2020 at 3:32 pm

      Mr. Shaw,
      We are sorry to learn about your recent in-store experience. Would you please advise at which store this occurred and any additional details you wish to provide so that we may forward that information to the general manager? This may be emailed to Exchange Post Editor Lisa Ferguson at fergusonlm@aafes.com. Thank you.

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