Beth Walters’ Journey to Jabil: Video Post

Part 1 of 6

Recently Jabil Joules hosted another Power Hour at Jabil’s headquarters in St. Petersburg, FL. The creator of the Jabil Joules program and blog, Beth Walters, Senior Vice President of Communications and Investor Relations, spoke in front of more than 60 female employees about her Jabil Journey, how she got to the boardroom and her suggestions for success.

Check out the first of our 6-part video series and listen to Beth reflect on how she ended up taking a job at Jabil.

Why Should Men Care About Gender Equality At Work

A higher representation of women in senior positions at various organizations across the world has proven to deliver stronger organization and financial performance as well as a better corporate governance. Considering the fact that women make up 50 percent of the labor force (in manufacturing their representation is only about 24 percent), starting an open dialogue with men and women about closing the gender gap is crucial to the future of any organization.

Because men hold more than 85 percent of top executive positions and 96 percent of CEO positions, they play a critical role in advancing gender diversity in the workplace. Benny Ortega is Jabil’s Senior Director of Operations for Europe as well as a proud supporter and a Steering Committee member of Jabil Joules Europe. Jabil Joules is a program that aims to educate, mentor and encourage networking and dialogue about diversity at Jabil. Benny believes that men have an important role in driving equality at work and is passional that this is an issue that everyone should care about.

Why do you think it is that important to have a diverse, gender-balanced workplace?

This is an initiative that is past-due; it is something we need to do to help improve diversity across the organization. For me, it is not only about gender balance, it’s about diversity. I think organizations that are diverse perform better. When you have only one thought or one idea you can´t stay competitive. In our business you have to constantly find ideas and go after them. So gender-balanced environment is for me the easiest first step to get there. Of course, we also have to think about cultural diversity, race and religion, but as a first step all of the continents have the baseline of gender-balanced opportunity. It is the most common denominator through the globalism within Jabil.

How can we create a gender-balanced environment, encouraging a dialogue about this topic without alienating men?

There is always the risk that you push too hard on one side and you lose the balance. What this specific initiative needs is a “communication visibility.” To create a better balance, we first have to understand that we do not have a balance today. But as we start to talk about that and get visibility of the actions around that we are on the best path to create more balance. It is about communication, it is about visibility, it’s about having a goal and a vision. The goal and vision has to be about balance and diversity – that is what we need to strive for! Today, we are not there and I would like to get to the problem with men on the supporting side.

Who are the most inspiring women you met during your career at Jabil? What have you learned from them and how did this affect your working environment?

This is a great question and here I would like to start with my Mom. I am very, very fortunate that my Mom is MY Mom. She taught me so much! What she did and how she managed to do so much and just by herself coming from a humble background. She had a couple of kids and she was a single mother. To see what she was able to do with very little and how my brother and I turned up, that to me is the baseline. At work, someone that inspires me is Patricia Lim. Patricia has ran some large business relationships for us in Asia with our largest customers and is extremely impressive. Now she is looking over the Business Management group globally. She is just impressive because the way she is able to work with the people and get results, find solutions and is just a great person above all else. Patricia is definitely a woman that stands out for me.

What is the biggest obstacle for women in the workplace today? What can we do to remove it?

The obstacle I see is more of a psychological one than a physical object standing in front of woman versus man today. I think there is a predisposition in our workforce, because there’s so many men in our business that men tend to lean on other men. Women, for example, do not go after opportunities as hard because they look and see that there aren’t a lot of women in some of these positions. This is what I think we need to get past –  the psychological part. We are not putting enough focus on this, hence is our biggest obstacle. Communicating that, for us to be successful, we need women to be in management is the first step and we need to remove the obstacles. Because being diverse is not a “nice to have” any more, it is a requirement for our competitiveness! Women bring new ideas and provide solutions and that balance in our leadership is what makes us better.

Why, in your opinion, is there still a gender gap in our working environment?

I think if you look at the demographics at the workforce today versus a hundred years ago a lot more women are working. It is a historical legacy issue, women were not always working and it takes time to evolve all these changes. It will be a long way to get balance in our working environment and we have to create quantum leap. Manufacturing is not always the most glamourous type of work, which means for us that the women that we have in our workforce within Jabil are heavily connected towards functions such as finance, human resource or communications, but diversity means diverse across all of the functions. I´d like to see more women leaders in engineering as well, so why are we where we are – I do not claim to have the answer. I will say that as a team we have to strive for balance across all the functions across all the organization because we know it is better for our long-term sustainability.

How can we encourage people to go beyond the stereotypes? What are some practical steps that can change that?

In my opinion, we need to look at the individuals and do not want to pocket groups into stereotypes. We have just been discussing about which people stand out for me, I talked about individuals and what we need to do as an organization, as leaders and as a group is to find who are the individuals that are standing out. Once we’ve found those folks we have to find out how we can help them get on path so that they do not get grouped to stereotypes and they do not get limited. As an organization, we really have a responsibility to identify those folks and support them in their development. As a practical step, I would mention the process that we use to review our talent. We really need to select who are the men and women, future leaders, and really invest in them. We have to put a little extra attention today on the women because there is a gender imbalance, but the process still needs to be a process.

Benny Ortega is Jabil’s Sr. Director of Operations, Europe EMS. Benny joined Jabil in 2001 as part of Jabil’s “Jabil Emerging Leader”  (J.E.L.) program, has served in many roles across all of Jabil’s major Divisions: Jabil Green Point, Nypro and Healthcare, and has a vast experience working internationally. Benny earned a Bachelor’s degree in Engineering, a Master of Science in Management, and a Master’s of Engineering from the University of Florida.

Networking, Mentoring and Educating: Three Ways to Encourage Greatness from Jabil’s Joules

Jabil Joules attend Executive Women’s Day
Jabil Joules attend Executive Women’s Day

The mission of Jabil Joules is to educate, mentor and encourage networking and dialogue about diversity. Every now and again, Jabil’s female employees are able to participate in accomplishing this mission outside of Jabil’s walls. Eight lucky Joules were invited to attend the Astella’s Executive Women’s Day at the Valspar PGA Tour Championship in Palm Harbor, Florida, as part of Jabil’s women development initiatives.

Only a few of the eight women who participated knew each other beforehand.  They heard a panel discussion with some of the Tampa Bay area’s most accomplished women and took in the personal story of Carey D. Lohrenz, the first female F-14 Tomcat fighter pilot in the United States’ Navy. Additionally, the women got to know each other as they shared their stories of career success at Jabil.

To read a detailed recap of the event, visit Jabil’s blog.

Manufacturing Success at Jabil, One Step at a Time

Beth Walters, Jabil’s Senior Vice President of Communications and Investor Relations, was selected by the Manufacturing Institute as a 2015 Honoree of the Women in Manufacturing STEP (Science, Technology, Engineering and Production) Ahead Award, recognizing her as a role model for other Jabil women and women in manufacturing around the world. The award is given to women who have demonstrated excellence and leadership in their careers. They represent all levels of the manufacturing industry, from the factory-floor to the C-suite.

“When I think about the fundamental premise of this wonderful award,  I cannot think of a leader more deserving than Beth,”  said Mark Mondello, Jabil’s CEO.  “Beth has a tireless work ethic and displays total dedication and commitment, while leading with the highest degree of humility.”

Paving the Way for Women Leaders
Beth began her career at Jabil in 1992 as the company’s first Marketing Communications Manager.  In 1998 she was promoted to Vice President of Communications and Investor Relations, the first woman in the company’s history to be named a VP. In another first, she was named Senior Vice President in 2010.

When Beth joined Jabil – at a time when there were about 2,000 employees and revenues of about $175 million – there was not formal Communication or Marketing departments; she had to build the entire function from the ground up. According to Beth, “Twenty-three years ago my first challenge when I got here was to look for ways to share and tell the Jabil story. Unfortunately, being a privately held company in a business-to-business industry, Jabil was used to keeping very quiet about the business.”

Beth took on Investor Relations responsibilities and helped to lead Jabil’s Initial Public Offering in 1993. She developed the company’s foundational Investor Relations (IR) strategy. “The opportunity to create and tell our story to investors was instrumental in building the Jabil brand outside of the company,” she said.

“Beth wrote the book for Jabil IR,” said Forbes Alexander, Jabil’s Chief Financial Officer. “Since then she has built a world-class IR program that not only impacts value for our shareholders, but positions Jabil favorably in the marketplace, which helps us win business.”

Fast-forward a couple of decades and Jabil has over 150,000 employees and is on track for revenues around $18 billion. Like the company, Beth’s responsibilities have evolved significantly in that time. Initially, she spent much of her time on presentations and meetings with investors; analyst and shareholder meetings; and writing annual reports. Nowadays, her typical day includes these activities (we all roll up our sleeves here at Jabil) and she focuses on furthering the Jabil brand, differentiation and value proposition via strategic internal and external communications programs and activities.

She has been successfully leading global programs and initiatives that have helped Jabil create a strong company culture and positioned Jabil as a thought leader in the marketplace. She has built a global team of professionals who craft and shape Jabil’s internal and external communications and investor relations initiatives.

Creating Jabil Programs with Real Impact
Some of her main accomplishments include the “Respect Recognize Reward” employee recognition program that celebrates the accomplishments of Jabil employees. More than 200 employees are recognized each quarter for supporting the company values and their contributions to the company.

Another program her team developed and runs is “Deliver Best Practices” a global competition in which teams of employees from around the world compete for top honors for their best practices. “Creating, building and growing this global best practices competition which celebrates Jabil’s unique culture and helps improve our company, is one of my proudest accomplishments. The competition inspires great ideas and continuous improvement and I have received tremendous personal satisfaction from this program.  The feedback from our participants is humbling and I personally believe it is a tremendous indication of employee engagement,” she says.

“The Deliver Best Practices competition is an amazing program and the final day of competition, where teams from all over the world present their projects, is one of my favorite days of the year,” said Mark Mondello, Jabil’s Chief Executive Officer. “Beth and her team have managed to bring our culture to life through this competition and, as a result, have enabled some of our brightest employees to shine on the international stage; all while truly impacting our customer service, employee development, operations and commitment to social and environmental responsibility.”

The latest project Beth and her team have developed is Jabil Joules, an initiative that aims to build a more gender-balanced future at Jabil. The program provides a forum to educate, mentor and encourage networking and dialogue about diversity throughout the many cultures represented at Jabil with a special emphasis on helping women build their careers at the company. “I started Jabil Joules in an effort to share some of my success and help expand the representation of women at all levels of management here at Jabil and beyond.”

A Dream Come True
During graduate school when Beth was working on her Political Science Master’s degree, she had dreams of working as a diplomat. Little did she know that she would get that opportunity by working for one of the largest manufacturers in the world. “A big part of my job is talking about, building, enhancing and celebrating the culture at Jabil. I guess in some ways I am a Jabil diplomat and trying to bring us all together and build our culture around the world.”

According to Beth, every day brings something new; she never knows what is going to happen; and that’s what she really likes the most about her role at Jabil. “I thrive on change and believe that embracing change is a prerequisite for success at Jabil,” she said.

Beth Walters is Jabil’s Senior Vice President, Communications and Investor Relations. Beth joined Jabil in 1992 as Marketing Communications Manager and Prior to Jabil, Walters owned and operated a Public Relations agency in Tampa, Florida; served as Communications Director at the Tampa/Hillsborough Convention and Visitors Association; and as Graduate Assistant to the Director of Future Studies Program at University of Hawaii. Beth earned a Bachelor of Science in Political Science & Government from the American University and a Master’s in Political Science from the University of Hawaii at Manoa.

Jabil: A Company that Cares Every Day

Yesterday was “Companies That Care Day,” an annual event created by the Center for Companies That Care. According to their website, the not-for-profit organization is “dedicated to enhancing the well-being of employees and communities by educating and inspiring employers to practice employer engagement.” Thankfully for all Jabil employees, Jabil is a company that cares every day of the year.

The event encourages employers and individuals to address a significant societal issue that is undermining the well-being of the communities in which the companies exist.

Select characteristics outlined by the Center include: sustaining a work environment focused on dignity and respect for all employees; cultivating the full potential of all employees; encouraging individual pursuit of work / life balance; and appreciating and recognizing the contributions of the people working at the company. Whether it’s encouraging a colleague to submit their project to Deliver Best Practices or nominating someone for Jabil’s Respect. Recognize. Reward. program, Jabil consciously works to meet all of these characteristics and embody what it means to be a company that cares.

To read additional details of how Jabil is a company that cares and information from Jabil’s latest quarterly earnings update, check out Jabil’s blog.

We want to hear from you:
In what ways do you think Jabil contributes to being a company that cares?