An Indirect Career Path Leads to Success

By: Cindy House, director of global design engineering operations

 

While my background may seem disconnected at first glance, the different positions I held all complemented each other here at Jabil. I started my career in computer science and engineering, finding myself in new positions every few years from software development, program management, supply chain, business development and, now, back to design engineering.

This flexible, indirect career path is a special opportunity I’ve been able to have at Jabil, and one that I promote to my team. The cross-functional experience helped me build a broader understanding of the company’s business system and be more equipped to successfully drive complex initiatives involving multiple departments.

I encourage my team to think big – they are all shareholders of this company and need to have the self-confidence to deal with difficult situations. All our employees have an impact on the company and should feel empowered to make decisions, knowing they have the support of their managers and the confidence to do so.

My confidence was built from the variety of positions I worked in, giving me a chance to see how every department impacts the business and affects other departments. In 2002, I joined Jabil in Shanghai as a software development manager and transitioned to a regional leadership role in the project management office in China. These experiences helped build the foundation of my management skills, which greatly influenced the opportunities I gained in managing other departments.

Moving to the United States in 2007, I worked in a technical function and then found myself on a new endeavor in business. This was a time that really exemplifies the ability to change careers at Jabil: I was working as a technical program manager where I worked directly with customers, focusing on design programs. Because of the exposure with business development, I had the chance to lead one customer development project, which landed another. Leadership noticed, and I earned the opportunity to become a Senior Business Unit Manager.

Now, I’m back to my roots of engineering and hold a role overseeing the global design site operations across Asia, Europe and the United States. The key thing throughout my career was the opportunity to work with different departments and have the exposure to try new things. In the end, all of the dots connected, and my diverse experiences best prepared me for succeeding at Jabil.

Ignore Assumptions and Persevere

Globally, only 15.6% of engineering students are females (Catalyst, 2018), and just under one-third of those employed in the research and development (R&D) field around the world are women (Catalyst, 2016). However, Núria Gauxachs is defying those odds and encouraging those around her to follow her inspiring lead.

As an R&D Engineer at Jabil’s Blue Sky facility in Tortosa, Spain, Núria demonstrates diversity by being a unique representative of the engineering field. “When I was a child, I didn’t know what I wanted to be when I grew up,” she said. “All I did know is that I loved science. And I knew I was going to make a difference.”

While she was in high school, Núria enrolled in the technology specialty courses and found herself the only girl in class. “I was lucky in that my instructors treated me like just another student in their class, and my peers did the same – there wasn’t attention brought to the fact that I was the only girl,” she remembered. This helped Núria focus on building up her resume and growing her abilities rather than focusing on any gender differences.

As a mother of two, her advice to parents, educators and mentors is to focus on empowering a child’s ability and not focus on gender, saying, “If we think males or females are different, then they will be different. Instead, I teach my children a general rule: don’t pay attention to any type of prejudice or assumption of you, just persevere, and you will be able to accomplish whatever you want in this life.”

Núria’s passion and dedication extends to those around her, from teaching test preparation classes in mathematics and technology in the hopes of inspiring the next generation of engineers to supporting her peers’ goals in the hopes of building an empowered team: “Núria stands out because of her personal qualities and professional standards, and her work helps bring success to Tortosa Blue Sky’s mission. That’s the inspiring example she leads,” said Sergi Moñino, plant lean six sigma manager.

Making Every Life Change into a Chance to Grow

Having made her way around the world from Europe to South America and Asia, Yeliz Kokel has used her global experience to propel her career toward success. Now, not even 30 years old, Yeliz, operations development analyst at Jabil’s Suzhou SIP Plastic site, has lived in multiple countries, learned four languages and gained a diverse education. “The global experiences I have amassed have taught me invaluable life lessons and helped me gain opportunities to work with customers and employees around the world,” she said.

Yeliz uses her international experiences to connect with her peers across Jabil and collaborate to improve our processes. “I wouldn’t have grown this much as a person by staying only in one place,” Yeliz said. Opportunities to work in diverse functions at Jabil, such as in purchasing, operations and production, came from her proven ability to communicate well, work cross-functionally and think globally – skills that were taught from each move she made around the world.

After living in Turkey until high school, Yeliz moved to Brazil with her family, where she attended college and pursued a degree in international relations, a perfect degree for her life story. It was at this point she started to learn about the educational differences between countries and realized she had to take advantage of the opportunities presented wherever she was. In Turkey, students can only hold internships for a maximum of three months and work on just one project. In Brazil, however, Yeliz held an internship position for two years, soaking up as much information as possible, learning new competencies, and ingraining them into her work ethic.

After the internship ended, Yeliz and her family moved to Suzhou, China, where she quickly enrolled into the Master of Science of Management program, using this as a chance to acclimate to the new culture and city, learning from fellow students and peers while also continuing her education and building her career. “I didn’t want to take a break after moving to a new country,,” she said. “I wanted to quickly learn the ins and outs of my new home, having just been through that process in Brazil.”

By the time she moved to China, Yeliz had already practiced her ability to adapt to culture changes. “When I left Turkey, I was 15 years old, which was a perfect point in life to learn new cultural practices and start to understand diverse perspectives,” she said. “I remember the process of adapting to Brazilian culture, which in retrospect helped build my confidence, broaden my mind and convert me into a problem-solver.” While Yeliz was in Brazil, she was working for a German company, and the management methodology was not to focus on the problem that occurred but to focus all their energy on finding a variety of solutions. By living in a different country from a company’s headquarters, Yeliz learned strong communication skills quickly while also learning how to adapt solutions to local practices.

These life skills are invaluable, especially when it comes to finding a job and transitioning between different work and social cultures. “My advice to students and people just starting their career is to take every chance to grow your perspectives – it’s a huge world out there, and if you’re going to contribute to a global company, you need to practice being flexible and be open to learning in new ways,” Yeliz said. She’s a proponent for taking every opportunity as a life lesson and maximizing the benefits – because in the end, you can only grow from change.

Diversity is the Essential Ingredient for a Global Company

By: Emily Lai, director of design

Growing up, I knew I would work for a global company one day – I was born in Hong Kong and attended college in the United States. Living in two very different cultures gave me the foundation for a diverse career. After college, I went on to work with companies in France, Japan and the United States. Then, I joined Jabil’s Radius division in Hong Kong in 2010 and found the markets and diverse customers we serve matched not only my career interests but also my skills.

The work of a designer requires understanding customers’ individual needs and expectations, which are greatly impacted by where that customer is based. Because of that, we localize and customize designs that best meet the desires of each customer. It’s not ironic that I chose a career that is naturally diverse – it satisfied my passion and career goals. For those who don’t work in this field, though, there are still ways to be ‘universal.’

Working globally can positively impact someone’s career because it gives so many opportunities for them to learn about various markets and learn to adapt their thinking and project deliverables to meet the expectations of diverse end-users.

What can help make someone think more ‘globally’?

Upbringing is just one element that prepares someone for a global career, such as myself and living in places where I was exposed to different cultures at a young age. However, not everyone is able to have that type of childhood, so it’s also important to take every chance to gain global experience: accept internships in cities or countries away from home, take international studies courses in college, or volunteer to work with teams at other sites.

To be a global company, we need a diverse workforce, and it’s our responsibility as managers and leaders to empower employees to gain those skills and experiences. As employees of Jabil, we all need to remain open-minded in accepting and adopting new cultural nuances to better serve our customers and ultimately the product users.

My favorite way to think of the idea of ‘working globally’ and the way I explain this philosophy to my team is that it’s like a pizza: the company itself is the traditional pizza base with crust, cheese and sauce, but the variety of toppings represent all of the local cultures we work in. The more global a company is – or the more pizza toppings there are – the more diversity of thought and variety of resources there are available to innovate and positively change the world.

Building a Confident, Diverse-Thinking Team

 

By: Andrea Boettger, senior assistant treasurer director

 

When I joined Jabil 16 years ago, I had no idea I would find myself in treasury, but that’s the fun thing about working for this company – you have the freedom to try different things, join other departments and use your unique experiences to positively impact the business.

Starting out in the finance department as a controller, I was hired to build the local team at Jabil Vienna after an acquisition.  I was able to grow into a finance leader role for the design engineer team and later a global controller for Electronic Manufacturing Services’ Design and Engineering Services department. Then, just about six years after beginning my career at Jabil, I was asked to lead the treasury function in Europe. However, I must admit I knew nothing about the department at the time. In the beginning, what I found to be more helpful was that I knew Jabil’s business and network, having used my previous positions to learn about other departments and people at Jabil. Treasury is so diverse regarding the type of work and the different finance backgrounds of those who make up the field.

Knowing this, I always encourage those working for me to understand other functions and roles at Jabil. It’s just another aspect of my training for new employees – in order to successfully meet the needs of the business, we must understand all the aspects and know the people who impact it.

This line of work is very connected to the entire company; it’s tied to all types of company actions, which makes it interesting and unique. With such diverse roles and projects, it’s also important that our team is varied. In order for our team to be successful and support the diverse functions, I focus on continuously welcoming everyone’s different ideas.

Recently, I hired a new manager who came from a shared services center in Budapest, and I’ve encouraged him not to look at just what Jabil is doing but compare it to what he is bringing from his previous experiences. I encourage him to suggest and challenge how our department is working because we can’t continuously improve if we don’t create an open channel for change – and our employees are those channels for change.

My focus as a leader is to motivate my team to ask questions and make sure they know there are no stupid ones. Managers and their employees need open communication lines to grow their expertise individually and collectively. I don’t push my ideas or opinions on my team members because I value their ideas, experiences and thoughts. It won’t benefit anyone or the company if we all think the same way!

If your team comes in and does their own thing the same way, every day then I believe people lose motivation very quickly. It’s great to have employees who are to committed their job, but if that motivation is lost, then we start losing a fundamental element of a great team. What makes the job most enjoyable is having a team of people who love what they do. As a Jabil leader, I’m honored to have the responsibility to build up a confident, successful team.