A Journey Home
By Riley Bunch | Photography by Mary Grace Johnson
Janie Goddard discovered her passion for business on her eighth-grade school bus.
When her father took away cable on her television, Janie started selling candy on the bus, so she could buy her own cable TV and watch as much MTV as she wanted. Soon after, her candy business made so much money that she forgot about her initial goal and latched onto the rush of buying low and selling high in business.
Now president of JADAK, a medical equipment manufacturer and supplier, Janie attributes her success to drive and a wide skill set she’s developed over the years.
“Things haven’t always come easy for me,” Janie said, explaining that in elementary school, she didn’t excel. But she’s always had a good work ethic.
“I love a challenge,” she said. “That’s motivating for me. I like to see what more I can do or learn.”
After earning an undergraduate degree in business administration at Washington University in St. Louis, Janie took a nontraditional path into the business world. Instead of following her friends and classmates into the high-earning fields of business consulting and investment banking, Janie moved to Baltimore, Md., where she joined Teach for America and taught middle school math for three years.
“[It was] the best job I ever had. I loved it absolutely,” Janie said. “It taught me a lot of the skills I use today: patience, self-discipline, interpersonal skills, communication — all [of] those.”
After the time with Teach for America, Janie earned a master’s degree in business administration and management at Harvard Business School, and began her journey around the country. She spent time in California, Florida and Massachusetts, working for companies like The Clorox Company, Eastman Kodak, Johnson & Johnson and Covidien.
Then, although she vowed she never would, Janie returned to her hometown of Syracuse.
“My parents live here. I grew up here. I went to high school here. And I swore I would never come back — never ever, ever,” Janie said. “But when I got older and had kids, it was important for me to be closer to my parents.”
Moving home to be closer to family coincided with an opportunity at JADAK. In a nationwide search for a new president, Janie was chosen for the position, thanks to her track record of positions and variety of experience. All of that moving around had paid off.
“I have had a lot of good experience at big companies where I have gotten a lot of good training and understanding, but a lot of variety,” Janie said. “Also, I like to think that I have a good balance of being results-driven, but also understanding and appreciating that you need the people and you need to lead and inspire the people to get things done.”
Janie credits her coworkers for helping her assimilate to the new team. They’re passionate and engaged people who welcomed her to the organization, she said.
Now that she’s in her hometown, Janie hopes to give back to the area. Her vision for JADAK is “accelerated growth,” she explained. The new president hopes to bring more jobs and opportunities to the region.
Being an African-American woman who’s navigated her way through a male-dominated industry, Janie’s faced obstacles. But she decided long ago those challenges wouldn’t be roadblocks to her career and life.
“I am very keenly aware that these things could be barriers,” Janie said. “But, thank goodness, I’ve had people in my career who really championed me, supported me and helped me get to where I am.”
To women of color in her field, she has this piece of advice: you need to have self-confidence.
Here in her home in Syracuse, Janie enjoys her downtime with her husband, three children and family dog. After a lifetime of traveling for work, she’s happy for a chance to slow down and have more fun — but she sometimes has to remind herself of that fact.
“I’m so eager to get things done and drive things forward, sometimes I forget to reflect and enjoy the journey,” Janie said. “It’s advice I would give to myself back then, and advice that I still give to myself now.” SWM
For more information on JADAK, visit JADAKtech.com.