Two Unique Careers Bridged by the “M” in STEM


By: Stephanie Barker, director of Information Technology


Much like what Ali Ishaq spoke to last week on the blog, my career path to Jabil also was not direct, as my previous work life was in Tampa’s public school system. How did I find my way to Jabil’s Information Technology department then? Surprisingly, I found there to be a lot of overlap in the skills needed in both the Education and Manufacturing industries.

Science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) is applicable to many career fields, and it’s often not an immediate connection in people’s minds. For example, I started my career as a teacher for students with learning disabilities because I always had an interest in the psychology of behaviors and understanding how people learn. Then, I progressed to the role of vice principal where I led an elementary school through change based on data-driven decision making and financial management.

After 17 years in the school system, a close friend and Jabil proponent sensed I was ready for change and helped me realize my skills and knack for data-driven changes would serve me well as a project manager. I was always proficient with technology, having an innate passion for innovation, and that’s when I came to Jabil and saw firsthand how STEM is truly everywhere, especially in manufacturing.

I transitioned my project management skills and simply switched my focus from organizing school directives for students to driving progressive, futuristic organizational change through IT and operations for employees. The commonality is using data to make decisions, drive tasks and processes around the change, and manage the human behavior around those changes.

In other words, the similarity between my careers was the ‘math’ portion of STEM.

In education, we used data and scientific methods to solve issues like raising the bottom quartile of reading scores and understanding what programs or tests were successful in schools; whereas at Jabil, we use data to correct quality and efficiency problems on the manufacturing floor and with products we produce. Data is something that can be found in almost any profession, and STEM can’t exist without data and analytical skills.

Stephanie Barker, Table Leader at the St. Petersburg Power Forum

Math tends to be the forgotten STEM subject, and I think it’s important schools and companies alike focus efforts on supporting the field because big data, statistics and understanding trends are crucial to every industry, every company and almost every job.

In my experience, I’ve noticed that often times students don’t get to see the connection between math and how it’s used in the ‘real world.’ It’s great that Jabil supports local high school robotics teams across the country and organizes Tech Tuesdays at Johns Hopkins All Children’s Hospital to teach the young patients to the wonders STEM.

We all need to work together to continue to uncover the fascinating aspects of math, so students can see all the possibilities out there waiting for them in the workforce, whether it’s in education, manufacturing or something else entirely different!


Using Personal Experience to Encourage Diverse Future Leaders

By Ali Ishaq, Business Unit Manager


The story of my career doesn’t involve a single calling that I’ve worked toward, but instead, I’ve gained a relatively unique set of experiences on my path to Jabil. My family immigrated from Dubai, United Arab Emirates, to Boise, Idaho, where my parents started a small fast food restaurant that I grew up working at, and to this day, whenever I visit, you’ll find me waiting tables in the evenings. I graduated with a degree in political science from Boise State with dreams of becoming a diplomat, had a brief career in finance and traveled to the country of Jordan as a State Department Fulbright Fellowship to work on the Project on Middle East Democracy with the United Nations University.

When I returned to the States, I moved to Washington, D.C. and began work at a consulting firm where I advised senior leaders across the federal government on strategy development and execution, but I had an inkling to move my career into the private sector. To make the transition, I enrolled at Duke University to complete my Master of Business Administration (MBA). In 2014 while approaching graduation, I sought out roles that would satisfy my global interests and that could relate to my experiences in strategy, business and leadership, while also looking at companies that have a rich and robust Social & Environmental Responsibility framework – that’s when I discovered Jabil.

From left to right: Avinash Deori, Franz Bdoyan, Rachel Lewinsohn, Ali, Dana Noh and Sergio Davalos

… that’s when I discovered Jabil

After researching more about the company, I realized it manufactured tech products that I had read about, loved to use and ones that enriched so many lives, so I moved to St. Petersburg, Florida, to work in a position that aligned to my strategy-focused experience and for a global company that satisfied my tech-savvy mind. I joined Jabil as Strategy Manager for the Engineered Solutions Group (ESG) and Chief of Staff for Mike Loparco, Jabil’s executive vice president and chief executive officer of ESG, and who tasked me with a great project: create a competitive and prestigious internship program for ESG.

Reflecting on my experiences at Duke’s Fuqua School of Business in the MBA program, I noticed cultural similarities between Jabil and Fuqua, from our global influence to our commitment to ingenuity and innovation. That’s why I decided to partner with the university and its highly sought-after students who were often recruited by prominent companies, such as Amazon, Google, McKinsey, Facebook and Apple. We constructed our internship program to not only focus on developing talent for Jabil but also highlight how much we benefit from fostering diversity and inclusivity in our organization.

Diversity is an essential focus of the program, and as one of the world’s largest manufacturers, Jabil takes pride in its global reach. One of our goals with this program is to bring in strong international and U.S. candidates who have a mix of experience so that we can help incubate them into a leadership track at Jabil. Currently in our third year of the program, we’ve hosted students from seven different countries, including China, Nigeria and the Ukraine.

It’s our hope that by focusing our efforts on diversity and inclusion, we can welcome these students over the summer, plug them into high-visibility strategic projects and for those who prove their spirit and impact, we extend offers to join Jabil full-time upon graduation.

One measure of success is that every year we’ve had at least one intern come back as a full-time employee.

Ali and Kene Okoli with the 2017 interns: Avinash Deori (far left) and Dana Noh (far right)

The first year we welcomed back Kene Okoli who prior to Jabil was a fast-rising auditor at one of the big four international accounting firms. After the second year, Dana Noh joined us as a marketing expert and thought-leader at one of the world’s largest mobile phone and industrial companies. The interns and those who come back full-time, are making essential contributions to help us creatively grow our business.

While our teams at Jabil learn a lot from working with the interns, the interns also benefit from having a chance to apply their experiences and academic training at Jabil. Through this internship program, we work together to uncover what makes each intern tick and help align their work with that area of interest. Ironically, it’s also what I like best about Jabil: the entrepreneurial spirit of being able to always take risks and test out new ideas. We remain dedicated to ensuring an open environment for the students to grow professionally and demonstrate how their diversity brings value to the company.

My experiences at Jabil so far have given me a playground from which I’ve continued pursuing a fun, interesting and intellectually engaging variety of projects. This internship program and the seeds of leaders it is helping plant has been among my most rewarding experiences so far.

St. Petersburg’s Power Forum: Aligning Your Goals

Last week at the USA Regional Power Forum in St. Petersburg, Jabil Joules had the opportunity to learn how to best align their goals with Jabil’s overarching strategy. More than 130 corporate employees, from all levels and departments, came together to grow professionally and connect with their peers during a half-day development conference.

Rita Craig, vice chair of the Florida Commission on the Status of Women, began the morning by sharing her decades of experience creating impactful business solutions, initiating the conversation around goal-setting. She focused on the importance of creating measurable goals in order to demonstrate achievements and build a successful career. Rita emphasized taking risks and learning from those outcomes is one of the best ways to develop: “Own your lane on the road to success – own it, be passionate about it and become that go-to person, the subject matter expert,” Rita shared. 

After her insights, Jabil leadership brought the conversation to how those larger goal-alignment strategies are used at Jabil. Executive Vice President of Corporate Development, Courtney Ryan, and Vice President of Strategic Planning, Dave Miller, spoke to the process of how Jabil’s strategy was created. Then Senior Director of Communications, Michelle Smith, reviewed specific departments’ strategies to help bring insight to the diverse attendees of what their peers are working to achieve.

Diving deeper into the topic, the next portion of the event centered around connecting attendees with Jabil leaders to discuss current strategies for their specific departments and talk through goals for the upcoming fiscal year. Employees were able to interact with leadership and gain invaluable insights. As Rob Baker, purchasing manager, said, “This event was an excellent way to gain exposure to other peers and leaders you otherwise wouldn’t on a daily basis.”

After a chance to network during lunch, Chief Executive Officer, Mark Mondello, shared his thoughts and answered questions from the audience about his mentors, goals and experiences of taking risks. “Be proactive in managing your own career,” Mark shared. “Don’t be afraid to make mistakes. I’ve made more mistakes than any of you in this room, for sure. But, if we’re not making mistakes and we’re not taking risks, then we’re not pushing hard enough.”

Created in 2013, the Jabil Joules initiative was begun to open the dialogue about diversity in the manufacturing workplace. “The plan for 2018 was for us to add regional meetings to our Jabil Joules program. We’ve now hosted great sessions in Guadalajara and St. Petersburg, so we’ve really set the standard for finishing out the year with forums in Europe and Asia,” explained Senior Vice President, Beth Walters. “Momentum continues to build and the enthusiasm is simply amazing!”

St. Petersburg attendees left feeling empowered, energized and inspired, as they were able to connect with each other under a shared experience and see firsthand how everyone plays an important part in Jabil’s success. As Michelle Donato, risk management associate, said, “This Power Forum really brought all the employees together, so we can all work to create a better Jabil.”

The 2018 Regional Power Forums continue: Stay tuned for events in Europe and Asia coming soon!


Diversity & Inclusion: A Mid-Year Update

By: Jackie Darling, Senior Director of Diversity and Inclusion, Human Resources

Since my last article, we have read many inspiring stories of personal development, experiences and achievements from Jabil Joules around the world. These real-world examples emphasize how diversity of education, background and experience brings real value to the workplace. Joules who have shared their stories have also demonstrated that an inclusive culture of being able to be your true self matters.

Inclusivity Leads to Innovation

Increasing awareness around inclusivity leads to greater innovation, team performance and employee engagement, demonstrating how we all individually yet equally contribute to Jabil’s success. So, for the last six months, we have been exploring and researching what Diversity & Inclusion means at Jabil. We have been thoughtful regarding what matters to us and what we need to focus on. This will serve as the platform for all future initiatives and efforts designed to increase diversity across the organization.

Our Plan
Singapore Jabil Joules

Therefore our approach to Diversity and Inclusion is focused in three parts: first, we need to keep elevating the conversation on our diversity and our differences, which we can do by learning about each other, eliminating bias and respecting differences. Jabil Joules in Huangpu demonstrated this by being recognized by the Toastmasters International President for their commitment to diversity and empowering their employees.

Second, it’s about valuing our culture and how we work together, leveraging the value of our uniqueness to help drive our teams to success, which Joules around the world exemplified in the way they came together in fun, creative ways to celebrate the inclusivity of International Women’s Day in March.

Bandung Jabil Joules

And finally, let’s remember integrity plays a role in the discussion since we must continually measure our progress and be accountable both in and outside of Jabil. Nitu Sinha spoke to this in her article about empowering women to join the manufacturing industry in India and the business value of gender diversity.

Going Foward

With that, I’m excited to share that in the coming weeks, we will launch a Diversity and Inclusion website and look forward to being able to offer more on how we will build initiatives in support of these three areas of focus.

We continue to be surrounded by examples of success inside our community, and it would be great to hear more of these stories. My ask of you is to share your story, so I can hear and understand your experiences. Think about what helps us to grow and consider what barriers might exist that challenge us? Please send me any examples via email ( and continue to share with Jabil Joules.

Jabil Leader and Former Girl Scout, Alma Brings Math to Manufacturing

For Director of Mergers and Acquisitions Finance Integration, Alma Letona, mathematics has always been one of her strengths. Alma attended a middle school with a science and technology magnet program, where she found her passion for studying math and carried that with her through a Master’s in Business Administration with a focus in forensic accounting.

Along with her high educational and career achievements, Alma is also a proud representative of the Girl Scouts of the United States of America and fondly remembers attaining several badges for completing math-focused projects. “One of the great things about the Girl Scouts is that it gives a unique and personal environment for girls to tap into things that really interest them,” she said. “I definitely think that exposure at such a young age had a significant impact on my personal and professional growth.”

Putting the M in Manufacturing

Reflecting back on her career journey, Alma hadn’t considered using her passion for science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM), more particularly math, in the manufacturing industry. “One of the benefits of going into finance or accounting, though, is that every industry needs these roles, and the pace of this role matches the high-demand and versatile setting found within a manufacturing company,” she said.

Leadership Success

She joined Jabil in 2015 and is a successful leader, having built a team of strong project managers, who are seen as the leads for Finance Integration for the Mergers and Acquisitions department at Jabil’s headquarters in St. Petersburg, Florida. Alma attributes some of her success to the leadership skills she was exposed to at a young age, saying, “Being a Girl Scout really fosters leadership qualities and promotes ambition to excel at so many different things.”

Inspiring the Next Generation

Alma had a chance to share her experiences and passion with current Girl Scouts, who visited Jabil’s corporate office to learn about science, technology, engineering and mathematics in action. The youth were attending “POWER IT UP Powered by Jabil”, a week-long summer camp aimed to expose girls to the possibilities of STEM.

“Have confidence, take chances and recognize failures
as just an opportunity to learn and grow.”

The young girls also had the chance to interact with Jabil employees and previous Girl Scouts, like Alma, who told the campers, “Have confidence, take chances and recognize failures as just an opportunity to learn and grow.”

Reciprocation is Key

As a Jabil Joule, Alma emphasizes the importance of surrounding yourself with encouraging, supportive and ambitious people. She also reminds us how success comes from reciprocating those sentiments to others. “I was able to build my career here at Jabil because of the empowering leadership in the organization, so as a director, I hope to be that same inspiring force for my team.”