Thirteen years ago, Junior Jabbie started his professional career as an intern at Banneker Industries, then headquartered in Lincoln, Rhode Island.
Today he is the President and CEO of the multi-million-dollar business now headquartered in North Smithfield, Rhode Island.
They have locations that span across Rhode Island, Massachusetts, Alabama, and California. And he’s intent on giving back.
Jabbie is working with the Southern New England American Heart Association. He’s been named the Executive with Heart Chair for the 2019 Southern New England Heart Walk.
“It’s very humbling and an honor to be asked to be a bigger part of the American Heart Association’s mission,” Jabbie said. “It’s a big responsibility and an opportunity to bring awareness to heart health and stroke prevention,” he said.
“I first became involved with the American Heart Association through Cheryl Watkins Snead,” said Jabbie. “She was near and dear to my heart,” he said.
Cheryl Snead founded Banneker as a supply chain management and logistics solutions company in 1991. She was the first African-American woman to graduate from UMass Amherst with a B.A. degree in Mechanical Engineering. The company is named after Benjamin Banneker, the first recognized African-American mathematician, astronomer and inventor.
Cheryl Snead was the keynote speaker for the 2018 Chair for the Go Red for Women Luncheon for the Southern New England American Heart Association. Sadly, she lost her battle with heart disease in January of 2018. When Cheryl passed, Jabbie assumed leadership of the company that she founded.
For Jabbie, the climb from interning to running Banneker has been a heady experience.
“It’s like living in the same building your whole life, but then moving to the top floor – everything is still the same, but the vantage point is very different now,” said Jabbie. The past six years have found him in an executive leadership role. The discipline and talent he’s shown in the business world were cultivated early on.
He was recruited from his home state of Maryland to play football at Bryant University on an academic and athletic scholarship. While football was familiar to him, New England was not. “I didn’t know anyone here, I had no connections to Rhode Island at all,” he said.
As Banneker’s first ever intern, Jabbie met Cheryl and her husband Roland Snead when he started as an intern his junior year at Bryant University. “I was never treated as an intern or relegated to stereotypical intern tasks like getting coffee or making copies,” said Jabbie laughing. “Cheryl and Roland gave me the bull and I took it by the horns and made the most of my experience.”
For Jabbie, that meant sharing his market research ideas and applying what he was learning in class to Banneker. He was offered a management position with the company soon after earning his MBA from Bryant University. “They valued my input and I was always treated me as a person, never just as an intern,” he said. “I joined Banneker for the career opportunity, but stayed for Cheryl, the amazing company she built, and the awesome people that worked there; it felt like family and like home.”
He’s taken those same skills of personal leadership and continued to run Banneker with the same spirit of servant leadership, humility, and openness that Cheryl did. For instance, each quarter the entire company comes together for “Friday Team Times,” sharing food and information about the company’s performance. “We share everything that has gone on over the past quarter and what we expect to happen for the upcoming quarter – from company financials to community service initiatives.”
With the Southern New England Heart Walk set for June 2, 2019, Jabbie is looking forward to recruiting other business leaders and having as many people participate as possible.
“We all have hearts, everyone has skin in this game,” said Jabbie.
For more information about the Southern New England Heart Walk please go to sneheartwalk.org