Jo Jackson is IPM’s Vision Realization Officer, charged with investigating, recommending, and implementing strategies to help realize IPM’s vision of becoming a hundred-year company. Jo worked for 10 years with a division of Johnson & Johnson, the last three years with IPM founder Rich Panico. Her career there culminated as Plant Controller, and was followed by several years as an independent accounting service. When Rich started IPM, Jo was the first employee he hired (as Chief Financial Officer) in 1988. Over the years, she has helped IPM grow from a three-person firm in a 650-square-foot office to the national company it is today. Jo handed over the CFO reins to Tim Czech in 2015.
Jo is a member and serves on the board of the Chicago Finance Exchange, where she currently chairs the Philanthropy Committee. She is an active supporter of the West Suburban Community Pantry and her church community, serving on a variety of boards and committees.
Jo likes to walk fast, though marathon distances are no longer on her agenda, and tries to stay fit with yoga. She relishes spending time with her two grown children, their spouses, and her granddaughter. She holds a BS and MBA from Eastern Illinois University.
“I have been blessed to call IPM my professional home for nearly three decades,” she said. “It is hard to imagine a company that could rival our amazing group of folks who value friendship, fun, hard work, integrity, intelligence, results, and true caring for each other. I am so very proud to be a part of IPM.”
I have been serving as IPM’s Vision Realization Officer since March 2015. That’s when I turned my Chief Financial Officer (CFO) title over to Tim Czech, a decision that was not made easily. Of course, I had no doubt that Tim would serve the IPM family very well—after all, he had been with us for nearly 20 years and I knew his talents and dedication well. Nevertheless, deciding to step back a bit, out of the day-to-day for the first time since 1988, was certainly not a conclusion that was lightly reached.
I’ve known Rich since 1983 (he was impressive then too!), when we served on the same plant staff leadership team for a division of Johnson & Johnson. I was responsible for Finance and Administration, and Rich was responsible for Engineering, Maintenance, and Facilities. I decided to forge out on my own in 1986 after 10 very formational and rewarding years with J&J, when I began providing accounting services to small businesses. I learned of Rich’s plans to start IPM, and I was thrilled when he engaged my little company to be IPM’s outsourced financial services provider. It was exciting to be in on the ground floor from IPM’s first day! So many “firsts” to tend to: a phone number, tax ID, medical insurance, a computer (one IBM desk top and dot matrix printer!), a checking account, letterhead, etc. Fun! Roughly two years later, IPM’s growth dictated that I either tell Rich to hire an accountant or join his team full time. It was too good an opportunity for me to pass up!
The CFO role meant taking responsibility for all corporate administration (Finance, HR, IT, Office Administration, etc.). So, while my title didn’t change for a quarter of a century, there was never a dull moment—there was always something to learn, improve, and plan with a growing company made of the most amazing folks. It was always a wonderful adventure, but it was not easy. We worked very hard, and sometimes it was downright difficult. However, it was always rewarding. Responsibility for everything from payroll to performance management to reviewing so very many documents gave me the opportunity to interact with all our IPMers. They have been inspiring me since 1988.
I’m no longer in the office every day, but I’m very involved in the company, and it remains very fulfilling. The “vision” behind my current job title (c’mon, it’s the coolest title ever, right?) and the project that consumes a good portion of my current efforts is the long-held objective that IPM live beyond its founder. Rich has always selflessly emphasized the 100-year goal, setting the perspective that everything we do should set IPM up to live long and prosper. I’ve been spending a large portion of my time investigating corporate structures that endure—ESOP is a viable possibility. Other special projects continue to challenge me to learn and adapt, and I still have lots of fun (just don’t ask about Junk in the Trunk, please!). Because of the longevity of my service, a big part of my current job is to address trivia questions from years gone by, and telling Tribal Stories to our new hires is one of my favorite activities. I can’t remember a day at IPM that didn’t involve laughter—and love. Caring, which is one of Our Fundamental Values, plays out every day, sometimes in big ways, and sometimes through a smile, a joke, or a hug.
I was raised the third of six children by hard-working, staunchly principled parents in Belleville, Illinois, who somehow managed to instill in each of us a strong work ethic, a devilish sense of humor, an unwavering appreciation for our country and the opportunities it has afforded us, and an abiding belief in God. I attended Catholic grade school and an all-girl Catholic high school, which I credit with giving me leadership opportunities I might not otherwise have experienced. My mom and dad sacrificed greatly to provide good educational opportunities to us all. (I come by the frugality typically associated with CFOs quite naturally.) Neither my mom nor dad achieved a college degree, but all their children did—and most have more than one. Somehow, I think that was enough for my folks—to see their children succeed. More importantly, all six of us are close and cherish the times when we can all get together. Work. Love. Family. Faith. I could not have asked for a better foundation.
My life still revolves around family (my daughter, Diana, and her husband, Vish; my son, Peter, and his wife, Jenna; and my granddaughter, Mila), faith (parish activities, pro-life action, pantry support), lots of love, and, of course, all my IPM family members. I’m occasionally referred to as the “mom” of IPM. If that’s true, then like my parents, I just want my IPM family to succeed and for those talented, amazing people who join us to find in IPM a professional home where they feel valued and fulfilled. Blessing upon blessing!