Four Lessons of Leadership From Startups to Corporations

By: Ande Johnson, senior information technology director

Early in my career, I joined a technology startup as merely “Employee #19” of what would later become a midsized technology company, delivering cloud-based services before the term “cloud” even existed. It was exciting to be at the forefront of technology – a place I have also often found myself during my four and a half years here at Jabil.

It was an amazing experience working for a startup: it was a time of great collaboration, a time to celebrate successes and learn from failures, and many long nights with lots of pizza. Not until many years later did I realize all the things I learned from those early-career experiences. Being Employee #19 shaped the rest of my career, including the way I work, innovate and now lead my team.

Four lessons have guided me throughout my career and helped me find success in my professional development:

First, work over your head

By that I mean, if the work is easy, then you’re doing the wrong work. People, companies and teams grow by pushing beyond what comes easy. This is a fundamental part of the Jabil culture, too – work with ingenuity and consistently innovate. As a company, we can’t progress if we don’t push ourselves or our teams. Recently, my team has been working on a new artificial intelligence-based virtual assistant project, which is an exciting, brand new technology. Given that it’s something we haven’t done before, the key to succeeding is for everyone to step out of their comfort zone, work beyond what they already know, and better understand the customer to solve real business problems.

Second, goal setting is critical

A team with a truly common goal, a single mission, will find a way to work together to be successful. Last summer in St. Petersburg, I participated in our Joules Regional Power Forum and spoke to my discussion group about this exact topic. It’s important everyone understands everything from our company goal to our departmental one and finally the team goal. Then, we can individually find out how each of our diverse strengths work to help our team’s mission and the overall success of the company. We can’t simply make an ambiguous goal and proceed. While working for a startup company, the cruciality of goal setting was especially evident. Everyone had to be aligned in their work to build the company and create progress.  

Third, don’t quit

Often, you’re closest to the solution just when things seem impossible: find a way. I recall a time early in my career when I worked on a project with a tough customer where nothing seemed to go right: resource limitations, technology issues, miscommunication and scheduling conflicts. I persevered by putting in the extra time to be prepared, remaining transparent with my customer and most importantly asking for candid feedback from those I worked with. In the end, the project was given the highest customer satisfaction ratings on any project for that customer to date. Now, I lead my team to follow this same formula for overcoming challenging requests. Even when everything seems negative, there is a way to succeed if you keep your head level and focus on fixing the problem instead of thinking about everything that went wrong.

Finally, “pick up the broom”

If there’s work to be done, then do it; and if a coworker is struggling with something, then help them. It can be as simple as cleaning up the break-room to picking up a tough task or presenting a team project, but along the way, you will learn something new, meet someone you hadn’t known before, and ultimately, help your company. If everyone pitches in to help others, we’ll all build a collaborative, inclusive team that supports the success of others.

Chihuahua Regional Power Forum: Successful Women in Action

The goal of the Jabil Joules Regional Forums is to expand the thinking of our global workforce about the benefits and power of diverse teams. These development experiences help empower our employees and highlight Jabil’s differentiated brand with customers, suppliers and potential employees. The forums provide our regional workforce the opportunity to connect, learn from one another and share insights on professional and personal development. Launched in 2018, we kicked off this year at Jabil Chihuahua on March 7th, in honor of International Women’s Day.  

More than 200 Joules from Chihuahua, including employees and local university students, as well as Jabil employees from sites in Baja, Guadalajara, Juarez and Torres spent the afternoon hearing from women and men in business and gaining insights into what leads to success at Jabil. 

Topics ranged from personal to professional development for success in the business, which requires “a synergy and work needed by both men and women,” said Lucía Legorreta, author, managing director of Legorreta Architectural Firm and the Forum’s keynote speaker. 

Lucía set the foundation of the event by presenting an overview of gender diversity in the workplace and the unique skillsets required for both men and women to succeed, regardless of the industry. Following her presentation, a panel of local and global Jabil leaders spoke to how those topics specifically apply to success at Jabil.

“You start creating opportunities for yourself as soon as you decide what you want to do.”

Founder of Jabil Joules, Senior Vice President Beth Walters hosted a panel speaking about career development skills, diverse teams and overcoming challenges. Johana Mariscal discussed how she reminds her female team members that as employees, mentors, mothers and spouses, they already balance many responsibilities and have proven their innate ability to be flexible and adaptable, an important skill of successful people. Starting her career at Jabil as an operations executive administration assistant to her current position as plant controller in Chihuahua, Johana said that she tells herself and those around her: “You start creating opportunities for yourself as soon as you decide what you want to do.”

Attendees also heard from April Butterfield, vice president of technology, on how Jabil allows employees to take risks to grow, but it’s up to the individual to take that challenge and turn it into a success. According to April, this sense of resiliency is what makes someone successful in any business, male or female. 

Along with personal development, it’s also important for managers to develop their teams. “It’s all about continuing to develop our teams because we – and other leaders – will retire someday, and we need to make sure we have given the next generation enough confidence and opportunities to succeed,” said Patricia Siqueiros, senior supply chain development manager, who has over 18 years of experience at Jabil, including regional managerial roles. She stands by the idea that it’s up to those employed in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) to teach not just younger employees but also students in the community about pursuing a career in these industries. April agreed, adding, “If we don’t empower our teams, we can’t grow. And in the end, that drives out diversity instead of welcomes it.”

Another important aspect of success and a crucial element of the Jabil culture is teamwork and collaboration, to which Johana mentioned how building a diverse team brings so much value to the business. “On my team, I have someone who thinks analytically, another person who thinks technically, someone who thinks like a leader, and another who is more social and interactive. Everyone gives us something different and working together gives us success,” she said. Johana reiterated the importance of supporting employees to achieve their goals and bring the best outcome to Jabil. 

Chad Morley, vice president of the automotive and transportation sector, extended that idea, saying how working at a global company requires different cultures and genders. “It’s important to know everyone’s skillset on your team because a variety of cultures, functions and knowledge is what brings us success as leaders, managers and employees,” he said. Chad shared how those who excel at the company are usually those who have a drive for results and a strong work ethic and passion.  “It’s up to managers to understand the talent they have on their teams and cross-train to help develop Jabil’s workforce,” Chad asserted. 

The Chihuahua Regional Power Forum helped start important conversations among employees from different backgrounds, functions and levels of expertise. Employees are energized (much like a Joule [joul or /jo͞ol/ = a unit of energy]) and ready to apply what they learned during the event to bring success not only to their own careers but to Jabil and industry as a whole. 

Jabil Supports International Women’s Day #BalanceForBetter Campaign Through Diverse Efforts

Each year, International Women’s Day celebrates the achievements of women, while calling attention to important topics to connect, educate and mentor one another, much like the Jabil Joules focus areas. 

Jabil Joules serves as an opportunity for our employees to create an open dialogue around diversity and inclusion, giving them an avenue for encouraging future generations to be successful in the manufacturing industry. It has since grown into a network of mentorships, education and community involvement activities among all employees, male or female, entry level to leadership.

With a focus on being all inclusive in order to create positive change, this year’s International Women’s Day theme is #BalanceForBetter, which Jabil proudly supports through various initiatives. 

Our employees around the world continuously work together to create a diverse and inclusive environment for their peers and those in the community, demonstrating that a balance for better also means supporting a balance of ideas, careers, respect and more.  

While supporting a variety of female health initiatives, such as HER Health, breast cancer awareness activities or on-site mammography screenings across the Americas, Asia and Europe, employees come together to create a healthy balance for better. 

To ensure an educational balance for better, Jabil sites are helping all students have an equal chance at educational excellence. For example, Jabil Green Point in Singapore funded scholarships and school renovations in Sok Sabay, Cambodia. Similarly, Jabil Belo Horizonte in Brazil has provided mentoring to underserved girls for the last 18 years, with some students graduating from the program and entering the workforce at Jabil: “When I started receiving mentoring (in 2007), I had no idea what my future would be – I didn’t think much about it. The classes and mentors at Jabil helped me to better understand myself and encouraged me to start planning for my future,” said Maria Quieros, purchasing manager at the site. 

Other initiatives over the last year have focused on creating a career balance for better by focusing on empowering young girls to pursue a job in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM). This includes multiple sites across Europe, which participated in International Girls in Information and Communication Technologies Day, encouraging female students by organizing activities for them to test out their interest in the field. Other sites, such as St. Petersburg, are also helping students in the community understand the unique, varied ways to work in the STEM industry.

All of these activities and more being held at Jabil sites everywhere demonstrate the commitment from our employees to create an inclusive world. This is how Jabil is creating a balance for better. 

Read how some of our employees are specifically supporting this initiative:

Twelve Jabil Leaders Nominated for the 2019 Manufacturing Institute’s STEP Ahead Awards

The Manufacturing Institute announced today Jabil’s Ying Guo of Huangpu, China, and Vivian Wang of Chengdu, China, have been named Honoree and Emerging Leader, respectively, in the 2019 STEP (Science, Technology, Engineering and Production) Ahead Award. The STEP Ahead Awards showcase and celebrate the achievements of outstanding female leadership across the manufacturing industry.  

Jabil nominated 12 female leaders this year, and two were selected as honorees, the most a company can have per given year. Jabil’s 2019 nominees have demonstrated a strong commitment to improving manufacturing, contributing to the success of Jabil and empowering the next generation of female employees in a manufacturing environment:  

  • Anita Urbańska-Borowiec, Plant Controller (Kwidzyn, Poland) 
  • Bella Qiu, Senior Operations Manager (Shenzhen, China) 
  • Felipa Aclan, Assistant Quality Manager (Huangpu, China)  
  • Gabriella Pózmán, Business Unit Coordinator (Tiszaújváros, Hungary) 
  • Grannaz Amirjamshidi, Manufacturing Engineering Manager (San Jose, California) 
  • Irene Leong, Central Purchasing Manager (Singapore)  
  • Kelly Xu, Senior Manager of JGP Talent Acquisition (Chengdu, China) 
  • Loni Ellis-Vroom, Information Technology Tech Lead (St. Petersburg, Florida) 
  • Rocio Ivanov, Senior Global Quality Manager (St. Petersburg, Florida) 
  • Supriya Jadhav, Design Engineer Manager (Pune, India) 
  • Vivian Wang, Assistant Purchasing Manager (Chengdu, China) 
  • Ying Guo, Business Unit Director (Huangpu, China) 

Ying, business unit director in Huangpu, will be lauded as an Honoree Award for female leadership in manufacturing. Vivian, operations development assistant purchasing manager in Chengdu, has been selected as an Emerging Leader, someone 30 years of age or younger who is seen as rising talent in the manufacturing industry.  

These two inspiring females will join 128 other female leaders from 100 companies in Washington, DC, this April to celebrate their accomplishments and share their experiences with one another to help advance the manufacturing industry for future female talent.  

“This is Jabil’s fifth year participating in the STEP Ahead Initiative, with 10 of our female leaders being recognized over the years for their outstanding impact on their teams, Jabil’s business, our customers and the industry as a whole,” said Beth Walters, senior vice president and 2015 STEP Ahead Award recipient. “I’m incredibly humbled by the talent we have at Jabil, who exemplify our amazing diversity and strong leadership. All 12 of our nominees this year are clearly redefining the manufacturing industry, making a positive impact and empowering the younger generations. They inspire our company and provide great hope for the future of the manufacturing industry!”  

Stay tuned for more information on all our 2019 STEP Ahead nominees, which will be posted throughout the next month to showcase their great accomplishments.  

Congratulations again to Anita, Bella, Felipa, Gabriella, Grannaz, Irene, Loni, Kelly, Rocio, Supriya, Vivian and Ying! 


The Manufacturing Institute (the Institute) is the 501(c)(3) affiliate of the national Association of Manufacturers. As a non-partisan organization, the Institute is committed to delivering leading-edge information and services to the nation’s manufacturers. The Institute is the authority on the attraction, qualification and development of world-class manufacturing talent. For more information, please visit www.themanufacturinginstitute.org 

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.