WILDS February 28, 2019 Breakfast Event
Keynote Speaker: Jakki Krage Strako, U.S. Postal Service Chief Customer/Marketing Officer (CCMO) and Executive V.P.
Right Leader at the Right Time!
Jacqueline Krage Strako captivated WILDS members by describing the journey to her current role as Chief Customer and Marketing Officer. In candidly revealing herself and her career path, it became clear Jakki’s choices have positioned her to help lead the Postal Service forward in a competitive marketplace. As she walked everyone through her unconventional list of positions in the USPS that started in engineering and went from quality to budget to internal control and beyond—she noted that being open to change has been the constant throughout her career.
Growing up in Iowa as the only girl among four brothers, Jakki grew up with midwestern work ethic and guiding principles. She fostered grit in the face of challenges along a career path often considered male-oriented. A recurring comment by Ms. Strako was the importance of self-awareness as she assessed her strengths and opportunities. Her early ambition to be a professional ballet dancer was not meant to be. The skills gained however served her well – self-discipline, focus and determination.
Having turned to an industrial engineer major after realizing a ballet career for her was unrealistic, Jakki successfully completed two internships in the meat slaughter and food processing industries. Although recruited by those in the food industry, Jakki found the mission and purpose of USPS was the best fit to apply her engineering skills.
Strako joined the Postal Service as an industrial engineer (IE), where the IEs needed to “do” the work before telling others how to do it better. Whether designing equipment or processes, Jakki has encouraged collaboration at all levels throughout her career, applying advice received from one of her professors, “If you’re going to make something or design a process, you need to be able to clearly give the WHY and sell the solution.”
Jakki also emphasized the importance of knowing and playing to your strengths as keys to successfully addressing challenges. She encouraged the audience to take on new opportunities even if they feel risky, because others can see strengths you may not know you have. Ms. Strako also emphasized the importance of bringing others along as you progress. She stressed that every day you are interviewing for your next position. There is no glass ceiling unless you let there be one, keep pushing yourself to meet your goals. These are just some of the pearls of career advice from life lessons learned and in developing future leaders that Jakki shared with WILDS.
In her current role as CCMO, Ms. Strako has been able to leverage all her learnings from her master’s degree, where she added business law and marketing to her tool belt, and from that unlikely list of positions in which she served over her career, gleaning process efficiency value chain end-to-end from her early IE and Quality specialist days; analysis for pricing & costing and value/profit maximization from Finance and graduate studies; leadership and work execution through people internal & external from Operations; and learning about USPS customers and partners and the opportunity to market our great products and services as an Area vice president.
When fielding challenging questions and comments, Jakki responded to those inquiring and the WILDS membership with the same openness and candor she used earlier in describing her journey.
Ms. Strako described her commitment to finding ways to deliver solutions that align USPS capabilities with customer needs. She commented that today’s challenge is developing solutions in the rapidly changing environment for USPS customers and partners. The Postal Service, Jakki said, is leveraging our most important asset to help our customers be successful – our people.
– Submitted by Violette Jacobson