Jarron Cozad is the vice president of Talent Development at Mountain America Credit Union. Having spent time at both IBM and GE, Jarron’s exceptional experience in launching new learning management systems while streamlining content and creating new, more efficient tools has enabled him to focus his talents on digital transformation strategies spanning a variety of industries, including education, finance, and energy. We recently sat down with Jarron to ask him five questions:
Q: What was your first job?
JC: My first job was caulking the logs in between log homes in the mountains. I worked for a general contractor and he called me a “gopher,” because I would go for this and go for that, and get him the tools he needed. He taught me how to caulk in between the logs with a giant gun to seal them. I was 14, and I worked this job during the summer and the weekends. We worked for a guy who was an archaeologist in South America—we built his house, and he had so many artifacts that probably should have been in the Smithsonian. It was incredible just to be around his house; we were doing an addition. He had probably millions of dollars of artifacts there and spent maybe two weeks out of the year at the house.
Q: What do you look for in a potential leader?
JC: One of the most important things is someone who can change their opinion when facts are presented if they differ from their own. I need leaders who can adapt—facts over feelings—while still remembering that we’re all human.
Q: Who is the best manager you’ve ever had?
JC: Jim Sikes. I worked with him for several years at IBM. He continually reminded me of my potential, and also continually reminded me that he wanted to unleash it. He wasn’t scared to have hard conversations, and he was always quick to share praise when it was due.
Q: What are three skills that are important for the future of work?
JC: First and foremost, technology adoption. It’s also important to adapt the roles as fast as work is adapting. We can’t be scared to create new roles and positions for the new jobs and demands that are being created daily. Think of the data scientist; that was a role that didn’t even exist 15 years ago, and now it’s one of the most in-demand jobs. I’d also say failing fast. Fail fast, then pivot, and move on.
Q: What is one thing you wished you knew before you started your career?
JC: It’s okay to make mistakes. I think there’s such an emphasis in schools to get a 4.0, do the best, and be the brightest. But we need to know that it’s okay to make mistakes as long as you learn from them, admit them, apologize when necessary, and move on. That’s the most important part of it—having that continual encouragement required to move on.