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Dare to Be You Interview Series – Jordan Togami

Welcome to The Dare to Be You Interview Series! I’m launching this interview blog series with a new interview each month throughout the year!

I love this series because I get to put the spotlight on some of the people who inspire me to be daring through all aspects of my life every day, and to learn more about them in a deeper, most meaningful way.

Meet Jordan Togami!

Where are you now and what is your title?

General Manager, Operations at Transplace responsible for the Clorox business. I’m currently located in our Center of Excellence in Lowell, Arkansas.

We’d love to hear about your journey since finishing grad school.

After completing my MBA at DBU in May of 2015, my journey has taken me many places physically and professionally. Starting out in a professional development program at Transplace, I completed three different rotations including Logistics Business Analyst, Procurement, and Pricing roles. All of these successfully prepared me to take on my first management role as an Operations Manager for a customer identified as one of the fastest growing CPG companies and largest pet food brands in the country. The opportunity allowed me to move from Northwest Arkansas to be located on-site with the customer in Pittsburgh, PA in early 2017. Immersing myself in a customer’s company culture and operations was amazing experience and insight. Collaborating with sales, warehousing, finance, customer service, co-manufacturing, and more to lead and execute on a $30 million annual transportation budget provided a perspective like no other. After successfully leading the frontline team as an Operations manager, I quickly moved into a General Manager role with complete customer and P&L ownership. In late 2018 I was presented with the opportunity to move back to Arkansas to lead the Clorox account (which includes many household brands such as Clorox, Kingsford Charcoal, Burt’s Bees, Glad, Fresh Step Cat Litter, Brita, Hidden Valley Ranch, and more). In this role, I’m responsible, at a tactical and strategic level, for the team managing and executing freight accounting for hundreds of millions of dollars in transportation spend at a tactical and strategic level. I’m fortunate to be representing an industry leader in Transportation Management Solutions for a Fortune 500 company by leveraging our people, processes, and technology to provide endless value to our customer. 

Share with us how you personally develop your competencies always focused on improving overall every day.

Fortunately, I’ve been placed in roles where I am continually challenged. Facing new problems and challenges on a daily basis forces me to continually learn and improve. As professionals, if we are not in a role where we are feeling challenged, we need to seek new opportunities or new responsibilities to avoid becoming stagnant or too comfortable. At Transplace, we have great training resources and personnel. Our “Fuel Station” training module has hundreds of courses available to us from company or industry specific curriculum to general professional development. Also, I strive to immerse myself in industry news through publications, articles, webinars, conferences, etc. to remain up to date on the latest trends in the lightning fast industry of supply chain.  Artificial intelligence, driverless trucks, machine learning, Blockchain technology, and robotics are a few of the industry topics I hear about on a weekly if not daily basis. Losing touch with one’s industry trends will severely hamper future success in the current business environment.

What advice would you give yourself if this was, say, 3 years ago?

“Don’t stress the small things.” While details are very important in any business, mistakes are inevitable. My advice would be to have a short memory when one makes a mistake and not allow the mistake to fester or impact confidence moving forward. In the same way, learning from mistakes must occur to avoid repeating them, but do not become fearful of making decisions. “Failing forward” is a necessary skill for any professional. Business leaders are required to make many decisions, and one can only becoming better by making decisions and learning from the results. 

I can hear “gratitude” in your words. For what are you most grateful?

My family has been one of the biggest blessings of my life, from my parents and brother in childhood and through today with my wife and in-laws. I married my wonderful wife, Kaitlin, in October of 2016, and she has been my biggest supporter ever since. She’s moved across the country and changed jobs multiple times for us to follow the plan God clearly set for us.  We all need mental sanctuaries. Tell us about your mental sanctuaries and the role it plays in your life. I have a couple of mental sanctuaries. Fishing out on the water, anywhere, is one of my favorite pastimes. Lately, my wife and I have been training for a half and full marathon. Long runs can become a surprisingly refreshing mental activity. Time spent out in nature is invaluable.

Tell us about something priceless from your background that makes you right for your current “there.”

Throughout my life I’ve been exposed to examples of great leadership. My parents, coaches, professors, managers, and peers have given me the tools and training to ultimately develop into the professional I am today. While I’ve been able to grow professionally and take on leadership roles, I’m still constantly learning and critiquing my management skills and decisions. A mindset of continual education, constant learning and challenging the status quo are critical to any leader’s success. Being a “humble sponge” is the quirky term I have for this and hope to encourage others to take on the same attitude. 

What 2 words describe the values you are driven to live by, and give us an example?

Accountability and Character. Since the beginning of my professional life my responsibilities have varied over the years. I've been accountable for different duties, projects, tasks, and initiatives. The fact my managers always knew my business would be managed and executed to the best of my ability gave them the confidence to grow the scope of my responsibility.   Most importantly, character must be at the core of everything we do. Being the best at a particular skill or particular role will mean very little when we live or act without character. Truly caring about individuals and making the right decisions are examples of true character which will prevail over any experience, certification, or skillset.

What does selflessness mean to you, and what role does it play in your work?

At Transplace, the first of our four core values is "Respect the Individual".  You'll often hear "Customer first, people always" as a slogan alongside our most important core value. Not only are we serving our customers, but we are serving our customers’ customers’ customer (supplier, retailer, and end customer). Clorox's mission statement and motto is "We make everyday life better, everyday". While Transplace and Clorox both have financial goals for their business, both also have a mission to improve the lives of their customers. Also, as a leader my goal is to not only accomplish the business goals, but to also look out for the well-being of my employees. Sometimes doing things we may not want to do for the sake of the customer or to serve my employees is a great example of selflessness in the workplace. What strategies do you use to dare to be you - to show up and let yourself be genuinely seen, all in, always choosing to do the right thing?  got an example of when it was really hard?

I'll be honest, being myself has typically been very easy for me. I believe being myself has been one key to fostering successful working relationships. When one stays true to oneself and respects those around them, people will grow to respect you as well. Do you have a creed for living and loving with your whole heart?

I hadn't thought about this one before.  It may be tough for me to answer, maybe need to think for a little longer. I'm sure I do have a reason for living and loving with my whole heart, but maybe not a creed at the forefront of my mind. Maybe I need one!

Thank you, Jordan, for sharing your thoughts and this moment with us!!

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