Diversity in Practice

By: Sejal Shah, Senior Corporate Counsel


I never imagined that one day I would be moving to Florida, let alone be working for a global manufacturing company like Jabil. Having spent the last 14+ years of my legal career in Washington, D.C., my career path had been focused on a common anticipated goal for many D.C. attorneys – that is, the goal to make partner at one of the city’s many prestigious law firms. However, that changed when family commitments required us to transition to Florida. Out of my comfort zone, I wasn’t sure what the future held for me professionally. My resume had been carefully curated over many years to read a certain way. For the first time in a long time, I was forced to look beyond what the lines of my resume said I should be, and instead think about what I wanted next for myself.  Through this process, I was fortunate that the right opportunity presented itself, and now here I am – a proud member of the Jabil Legal department’s Global Ethics and Compliance Team.

My journey began as an undergraduate student at New York University, where I was a pre-med major before taking a completely different direction and applying to law school. I accepted admission in the dual degree Law and MBA program at American University Washington College of Law, and soon thereafter began my career as an associate attorney in the energy litigation practice of a large law firm. After developing my advocacy skills over six years, I decided to explore other opportunities for professional growth and transitioned into my first in-house legal role at a Fortune 100 energy company. This is where I was introduced to the world of legal compliance, finding it to be a natural fit. I enjoyed learning the inner workings of the business and collaborating with colleagues across the enterprise to problem solve and build regulatory compliance programs, while also furthering our business objectives. Of the areas of compliance that I oversaw, cybersecurity regulation became a particular focus of mine. These interests and experiences followed me back into law firm life, which is where I spent my last six years before joining Jabil.

… an opportunity to use the unique skills practicing law and compliance in technology-driven industries

When I started the job search in anticipation of our move to Florida about a year ago, I knew I wanted to find a position that would give me an opportunity to use the unique skills I had gained practicing law and compliance in technology-driven industries. Given my background, the manufacturing industry had not been an obvious direction to me. However, I was fortunate that my resume came across the desk of our Vice President, Deputy General Counsel and Global Chief Ethics & Compliance Officer, Sherry Williams, who took an interest in my unique background and saw the natural synergies that my skills could bring to the work we do at Jabil. Sherry opened the door to a new professional opportunity in an exciting industry that I had not previously considered.

I also didn’t anticipate encountering the breadth of
diversity that the Jabil Legal department represents.

In addition to finding the right role at Jabil, I also didn’t anticipate encountering the breadth of diversity that the Jabil Legal department represents.  In a profession known to struggle with a diversity imbalance, I had grown accustomed to being (in most cases) the only diverse attorney in the room.  Upon joining the Global Ethics and Compliance Team, I was thrilled to meet a distinguished group attorneys and compliance professionals from a variety of different backgrounds and experiences, ranging in age, gender, ethnicity, religion, sexual orientation and cultural values to name a few. While individually unique, collectively these views and skill sets perfectly complement one another, further strengthening our team’s performance as a whole. Moreover, it’s our differences that lend to a fun, collaborative work environment, where we all continuously learn from one another.

No, I never imagined that one day I would be working for Jabil. That said, I feel fortunate to have found my way here and to be working in a Legal department that is defying the “norm” with Sherry Williams, Kristine Oureilidis, Elissa Boisvert, Susan Wagner-Fleming and other diverse attorneys in positions of senior leadership. Diversity is not just our strength, it’s how we practice law at Jabil.

Diversity is not just our strength, it’s how we practice law at Jabil.

Tiszaújváros’ Power Forum: A Space to Inspire

Last week, Jabil Joules representing sites across Europe and including Israel, came together at Jabil Tiszaújváros to promote a dialogue around diversity and inclusion, exchanging ideas and sharing personal experiences. This was Jabil’s third Regional Power Forum in 2018, following ones in Mexico and the United States earlier this year.

The Power Forum in Hungary was about “conducting energy,” inspiration and encouraging a conversation around diversity and inclusion efforts, while the Latin America Power Forum focused on mentoring and the United States event centered around goal alignment.

The event began with the keynote speaker, Jabil’s Regional Information Technology Director, Katalin Laczko, who spoke about her diverse background. Starting her career as an English teacher in Hungary, she discovered her passion for science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM). Katalin decided to go back to school for a second college degree and transitioned into her IT career, working for companies like Lufthansa Systems and IBM prior to Jabil. “I gained a lot from teaching, like leadership skills, the practice of sharing ideas with others and understanding the importance of balance,” Katalin shared. She leveraged her unique background to excel in IT and encouraged attendees to never dismiss an experience as an opportunity to gain useful skills.

Up next, a panel discussion – led by Beth Walters, senior vice president and founder of Jabil Joules – continued the conversation about diversity, discussing its benefits to a company and how Jabil specifically rewards those who have an inclusive mindset. “We must look at diversity through a larger lens and consider diversity of experience,” said Bruno Soler, vice president of operations in Europe, who sat on the panel. “Different types of experiences help move people around and ‘cross-pollinate.’ This is what collaboration is, and this is what leads to more diversity of thought.”

Similarly, Szilvia Falvai-Sashalmi, senior workcell manager and Power Forum panelist, shared that diversity of experience and expertise from a manufacturing point-of-view is a must in order to best serve Jabil’s variety of customers. Other panelists included Andrea Cservenné, human resources manager; Anna Cybulska, environment, health and safety manager and 2018 STEP Ahead nominee; and Reka Aczel, global category manger and 2017 STEP Ahead honoree, who all provided important insights into how they promote diversity and inclusion on their teams.

“It was a real pleasure hearing from everyone on the panel and learning how diversity correlates to their experience and leadership style,” said Marina Kapats, human resources generalist from Jabil’s Uzhgorod site in Ukraine.

Following the panel, attendees were able to network with these leaders and Jabil Joules from the surrounding regions. This gave the chance for attendees – employees from all levels – to connect and share ideas with leadership and continue the open dialogue.

Later that afternoon, Jabil Joules Champions representing sites from Austria, Hungary, Ireland, Israel, Poland, Russia, Scotland and Ukraine, gathered to discuss activities and insights regarding their site’s diversity efforts. “Overall, this event was very encouraging and inspired me,” said Anastasia Kulakova, training specialist and Joules Champion from Jabil Tver in Russia. “It was great to have this opportunity to see how management is committed to diversity and inclusion. I feel like we’re part of something big, and all of us here today are now empowered to go back and inspire others at our sites!”

Leadership Is About Mentorship


By: Jorge Gómez, Director of Business Management


Being a leader isn’t about managing others, but instead, it’s about helping our employees be the best version of themselves – being a servant leader. We can do this by facilitating our employees’ career paths and creating an open environment for them to showcase the value they provide to Jabil.

In other words, we as leaders should be mentors for our employees, which in turn, gives us this important but rewarding responsibility to promote their achievements and abilities to grow within in the company.

Listening is the first step in understanding what the people on your team need and is the only way to identify common interests the employee has with Jabil. From there, I find the next step is to determine the best projects and scenarios where that employee will be exposed to opportunities to gain new skills and expertise.

I like to sit with my team and understand their larger goals, working with them to brainstorm creative ways to achieve those. Together, we discover what competencies they have in their current role, create a succession plan to master those competencies and define a personal development plan to round out their profile, skills and experience. This is how we can practice servant leadership, a topic also mentioned by Ying Guo in her Joules article.

“I’m grateful to watch her grow and succeed, as I am with my employees, and it’s why I find mentoring to be rewarding.”

In the end, this is what opens new career possibilities for the employees and add value to Jabil. One example of mentoring I’m proud of is the opportunity I had to help Paloma Barazza, Controller at Guadalajara and 2018 STEP Ahead Honoree. We had met when she joined Jabil Chihuahua as a cost accountant, and through projects together, we developed this reciprocal relationship where we mutually coached each other through our various roles over the years. While Paloma was deciding on some professional growth opportunities, I encouraged her to face the new challenge confidently, and now, she’s the Plant Controller at Guadalajara. I’m grateful to watch her grow and succeed, as I am with my employees, and it’s why I find mentoring to be rewarding.

Personally, I’ve had many mentors, including my number one: my dad. I still go to him for advice and to gain his wisdom. Professionally, my mentors have been diverse and from many disciplines, including Anthropology, Business and Finance. Each of their contributions have enriched my career development more than I could have ever imagined. It’s important for people to have a variety of mentors who help create well-rounded experiences, so their skills and competencies can continue to grow diversely, as well. This practice has served me well in my career, and I hope to continue to share that with those around me.

Intertwining Engineering and Manufacturing


By: April Butterfield, Vice President of Technology


Going into college, I knew I wanted to pursue an engineering degree, and from there, I went into the area of mobility – mobile phones and the infrastructures that support those devices. When you look at this industry, and the millions of products made each year, I found that engineering and manufacturing are very tightly wound together. If just one thing isn’t dialed in correctly, so to speak, then the waste is significant, and quality is negatively impacted with every passing hour before the issue is corrected. It shows how science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) and manufacturing truly go hand in hand.

Seeing the technologies being utilized and understanding the criticality of the production process, my interest was peaked, and I knew I wanted to join the manufacturing world. If you look at the industry and the technology used, it’s cool stuff, and it’s very exciting to be a part of those advancements.

It’s what attracted me to Jabil – we get the chance to partner with many different companies that work in diverse markets and have unique products. Because of that, we have the opportunity to constantly learn new things and have a very wide breadth of exposure to new technologies. There’s nothing more exciting to an engineer!

April presenting for the Girl Scouts of West Central Florida

In this field, you’re able to dream up the possible and then figure out how to make it practical. This makes the engineering and manufacturing partnership challenging, dynamic and interesting. It’s one of the selling points for STEM students to join the production world – there’s infinite possibilities to create, innovate and improve.

I feel passionate about sharing the wonders of STEM and manufacturing with the future workforce and take any chance I can to help youth in the community. Recently in St. Petersburg, I worked with my team to create some fun and exciting curriculum for the Girl Scouts of West Central Florida’s “POWER IT UP” Powered by Jabil” summer camp. We showed girls between the ages 9 and 13, the creative side of STEM through 3D printing activities, solar power, windmill projects and coding.

I also had the privilege of mentoring at the American Heart Association’s Girls Go Red for STEM event last year, where 100 middle school-aged girls from underserved neighborhoods were invited to a one-day education event to get hands-on exposure to STEM. I was honored to have the chance to talk with these bright, young women about the career possibilities out there waiting for them.

The manufacturing industry is strong right now and continues to grow, so it’s crucial that we as leaders in STEM and manufacturing use our experiences and knowledge to help impact the future generation of employees. Technology will continue to create new paths, and a career in engineering is a great opportunity to be on the forefront of those advancements.

April (far right) as a panelist at Jabil’s Guadalajara Regional Power Forum in May


April was recently interviewed by Women In Manufacturing in an episode titled, “Living on the Leading Edge of Technology,” where she discusses her path to Jabil, her experiences mentoring and the positive impact of Jabil Joules. Listen here!

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!