Carol Jackson: Five Things to Know
Carol Jackson took over the helm at HarbisonWalker International (HWI) as chairman and CEO this July, after serving as senior vice president and general manager since 2014. Driving Forward recently found out what helps her stay committed to delivering on HWI’s mission, and achieving its vision of being the first and only call for industry.
1. She’s laser-focused.
“My priority as CEO is to lead the Company’s long-term strategy, so I’m ultimately focused on HWI being a successful business that meets and exceeds customer needs, and is a great place to work. Fortunately for our all colleagues, we have leaders across the globe that know how to do their jobs well and help our teams prioritize what needs to happen, daily, weekly, monthly. Regarding our people – truly our most important investment, it’s my job to ensure a strong team of leaders who effectively engage everyone – across functions and at all levels – to do their job well. When that happens, we’re taking great care of our customers and operating on all cylinders, which brings success in the long run.”
2. She’s motivated by challenges.
“My motivation? Lots of caffeine! Seriously though, I find our business challenges invigorating. Every day on the way home, I replay the day. What worked well? What would I have done differently? What do I need to follow up on? Then I look forward to the next day as an opportunity to do a little bit better. That’s all I can ask of anyone.
When I came to HWI, I joined a team of professionals who, despite major company changes, were the flame/the heart of HWI. It was like finding my new place of purpose. That flame; the intensity of our people, our products and the environments in which they operate is engaging. This is what inspired our “Intensity at Work” theme.
I’ve spent my career in heavy industrial companies, so I love that we make something. And the more time I spend in the refractory business, the more I am obsessed with what we do… and building the value that we bring.”
3. She learned sensibility growing up on a farm.
“I learned the meaning of a hard day’s work. Some of you may know the drill… as soon as your legs were long enough, you were on the tractor! My role models were my parents; both held two jobs – at work and on the farm. There was no time to sit down and be lazy. I also learned the value of an education and the opportunities that might come as a result.
The farming seasons are a great analogy. In the spring, you start with nothing… an open field of dirt. By harvest time, you reap what you’ve sewn and enjoy the (canned) fruits of your labor throughout the following winter into the new year. That’s how I view my life and my career. Someday, I hope to look back and appreciate the great legacy I’ve helped build. For me it’s very real and very relevant to who I am and how I operate.
4. She’s a product of Junior Achievement (JA).
“My Dad’s company (Rockwell International) was a corporate sponsor of JA, so I got involved. I truly believe that I am who I am today because of the opportunities afforded to me by learning how to start and operate a company in JA. It taught me business, leadership, and even “how to win friends and influence people” through a Dale Carnegie scholarship. Today, the JA programs are an even more critical supplement to the education our kids are receiving. Basic economic skills are generally not the focus of the formal curriculum today. Yet, they are critical life skills!”
5. She’s always thinking of a song.
“Right now at HWI, the track playing in my head is, “Back in Black” by AC/DC.”
About HarbisonWalker International
With more than 150 years of industry leadership, HarbisonWalker International (HWI) is the largest supplier of refractory products and services in the United States. Headquartered in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, the company’s international network spans North America, Europe, and Asia, with 19 manufacturing plants, 30 global sourcing centers, and technology facilities in both the United States and China. Serving virtually every major industry that requires refractory solutions to enhance production and protect assets, HWI is consistently recognized for its talented experts, industry firsts, and intensely driven excellence.