Brian Lamar Jackson’s story is one we all love to hear. He is a small-town kid who has achieved great things while never forgetting his roots in southeast Arkansas and the invaluable lessons his parents instilled in him: a lifelong commitment to learning and helping others. Throughout his career, Brian has made significant contributions to quality management and workforce inclusion and diversity.
He has worked with renowned companies such as Corning Incorporated, and Colt Manufacturing, and presently serves as the Quality System and Supplier Quality Manager at Eaton in Los Angeles. Brian’s commitment to inclusion and diversity is evident through the numerous recognitions he and his teams have received over the years, including being named the Top-Performing Aerospace Site at Eaton-Los Angeles, receiving the National Society of Black Engineers (NSBE) Professional Member of the Year award for 2022-2023, earning NSBE Corporate Diversity Leadership recognition at Eaton, and being honored with the Steuben Crystal Award for his efforts in broadening diversity at Corning.
Driving Success through Detail-Oriented Leadership
At Eaton, Brian oversees crucial aspects of quality management, including supplier quality and quality systems; all while spearheading internal efforts for diversity and inclusion. His leadership has been instrumental in maintaining Eaton’s esteemed status as the Top Performing Aerospace Site within the company’s sector. Eaton’s commitment to excellence and sustainability permeates all aspects of its operations, reflecting many of the values that guide Brian and the entire Eaton team in making a positive impact on the world.
Having worked in the aerospace, automotive, and manufacturing sectors for over 25 years, Brian has successfully learned to navigate many of the common challenges that arise within the industry—ensuring consistent product quality and regulatory compliance. Brian excels in effectively addressing these challenges, where meticulous attention to detail is paramount due to the repetitive nature of tasks and variations in execution among employees.
Brian’s approach to building and motivating high-performing teams centers on trust, transparent communication, and a shared vision. He strongly believes in engagement, recognizing achievements, and providing opportunities for growth to keep teams motivated. His leadership style is adaptable and tailored to meet individuals at various points in their professional journey, offering guidance and direction to facilitate their personal development.
Advancing Inclusion and Diversity
Throughout his career, Brian has encountered diverse challenges, ranging from operational hurdles to navigating the intricacies of corporate cultures in different organizations. His problem-solving approach leverages Six Sigma statistical tools, mentorship, and collaboration with cross-functional teams to overcome these obstacles. Another vital lifeline has been his 25-year commitment to promoting inclusion and diversity in engineering via the National Society for Black Engineers.
“Black representation in the business world is improving, but we have a long way to go. Black business leaders bring a rich tapestry of perspectives, resilience, innovation, and commitment to excellence,” says Brian. “Being an African American leader born in the rural Delta region of the South, from a primarily Black community, I feel that it is imperative that the Black youth see themselves represented in positions of leadership throughout the business world.”
Under Brian’s leadership, Eaton received the esteemed Corporate Diversity Leadership recognition from NSBE during their Golden Torch Awards ceremony. This achievement underscores the company’s commitment to nurturing a diverse and inclusive corporate culture.
“Inclusion and diversity are not just buzzwords; they’re essential for the growth and success of any business,” says Brian. Pairing his work and service Brian has taken proactive measures to champion initiatives that promote cultural understanding and inclusivity. His dedication to enhancing Black representation within corporate America is an ongoing commitment. As a mentor, he plays a pivotal role in forging pathways for emerging Black engineering professionals, ensuring that doors to success remain open and opportunities accessible. Alongside his NSBE service, Brian is also active in the National Black MBA Association and the Council of Urban Professionals, Los Angeles branch.
Balancing Work and Life with Passion
Balance is a word that Brian can truly claim he is still in pursuit of, but he will share with you what he has learned about it along his journey. Being the child of two educators, he was taught the importance of education and this pursuit has been succinctly interwoven into his life. As a young Academic All-American, Brian chose to wear many hats. He was the top scholar in his class, a star in basketball and track & field, a section leader in the band, a leader of many student organizations, and graduated as his class’s valedictorian during his high school tenure at Eudora High School. Moreover, he learned to channel his energy into the things he loved to do, and he excelled at many of them. As he embarked upon college, the tragic loss of his father shifted his collegiate pursuit to remain closer to home and chart a new path forward, diverting from becoming a chemical engineer and pursuing chemistry in its purest form instead. Brian explains, “My aspiration was to never sit in a lab, but as a people person, to take my analytical thought process to solve problems in the real world, and that is just what I did.”
During his early college days, Brian and a group of friends founded a Christian organization that performed statewide and established a National Society of Black Engineers chapter at the University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff (UAPB), opening doors to internships and jobs for many students. He also formed partnerships with other state colleges, such as Henderson State University, the University of Arkansas at Little Rock, and the renowned University of Arkansas at Fayetteville, where they attended the Annual Convention, creating job opportunities for hundreds of students over the next four years. Brian continued to excel academically, became a member of one of the oldest black fraternities, Alpha Phi Alpha, and earned honors such as being named a Ronald McNair Scholar at the University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff and a George Washington Carver Scholar at U of A – Fayetteville. He culminated his collegiate matriculation by obtaining a bachelor’s degree in Chemistry at UAPB while maintaining the second-highest grade point average in his major while learning to become a father to his firstborn, McKinnli Kalise Jackson. Each of these experiences contributed to his growth and helped him secure an internship and future employment with Eli Lilly & Company after college.
Starting his career as a Quality professional and a father, Brian sought opportunities not only to succeed in corporate America but also to find the time to give back to his family, church community, and professional community to feed him and build him into the man he is today. He always remembered that he also needed to invest in himself, and he did so with activities like joining a local pick-up basketball league to remain fit or pursuing additional education and certifications, including his Six Sigma Green Belt at Corning Incorporated, to keep his mind sharp and his career prospects open. While employed at United Technologies, he obtained his first master’s degree in Quality Management Systems from the National Graduate School for Quality Management (NGS) in June of 2015, as his class valedictorian. Brian managed to work in a multitude of industries, where he took learning from his previous jobs to make himself a more valued addition to the team. In the meantime, he continued to support the National Society of Black Engineers through exposure to leadership opportunities that resulted in him becoming the National Chairperson for the professional arm of the organization and, inevitably, the director of a special interest group titled the Process Improvement SIG which housed all the industry experts in his field of Quality, which he now advises as their executive advisor.
Brian says, “My career blossomed along the way as I worked inside multiple Fortune 500 companies helping to develop and grow their inclusion and diversity exposure resulting in awards for myself and the organizations I was a part of.” The birth of his second child, August Leonidas Laval Jackson, taught him valuable lessons in humility and patience, reminding him that life entails more than just a corporate title. It took him years to fully grasp the true meaning of this life lesson, and he continues to explore its significance. Many years into his career, Brian obtained positions of executive responsibility where he served as a director and vice president, guiding their Quality culture and initiatives. During this tenure, he earned his second master’s degree from the world-renowned Kenan-Flagler Business School at the University of North Carolina – Chapel Hill in Global Business & Strategy. In reflection, Brian said, “Now taking a step back to enjoy the fruits of my labor, I have recovered from corporate burn-out and now seek to obtain roles of increasing responsibility to lead a global Quality organization once again into the next century.”
Lessons for a Lifetime
“My life has blessed me to learn many lessons that I feel are still valid today,” Brian asserts. He believes in always being open to learning something new, but once one has mastered it, the job now is to document it in a way to pass on to the next generation to learn from, or they will find themselves stuck doing that same thing repeatedly without relief. This means to grow a career instead of coveting knowledge; one must openly share it to help others grow and work themselves out of a job, so new opportunities may be opened and afforded for continual growth.
Brian also emphasizes that no one succeeds alone, so along the way, one should foster lasting relationships to build their own personal board of directors. This board should consist of trusted mentors, sponsors, and advisors to lean on for help with their career and personal growth, and they should look to mold and own their own careers.
Finally, Brian believes in always challenging oneself because the inverse of growth is stagnation, so never settle for complacency, as that will stunt and hinder growth. Having access to a therapist can be beneficial for processing emotions and decisions, contributing to holistic personal growth as a leader.
“Stay resilient. Surround yourself with mentors and people who uplift you.”