Jake Lewin – CEO of Intact US, Inc
In this exclusive interview with Red Swan, we bring you the fascinating story of Jake Lewin, a dynamic leader making waves in the TIC sector. With a diverse background in horticulture, organic manufacturing, and certification bodies, Jake shares his journey, accomplishments, and valuable insights on the industry's challenges.
1. Can you tell us about your background and how you got started in the TIC sector?
I began my journey in horticulture, working in farming, food, and agriculture. After a successful career as a restaurant cook, I transitioned to performing organic manufacturing and farming audits across the US and Mexico in the 90s. This opened doors for me to work with several certification bodies in compliance, technical review, and international trade verification. I later led the certification arm of CCOF during a period of significant growth and change. Today, I leverage my diverse experiences to support TIC businesses worldwide, particularly in the technology sector.
“To thrive in the TIC sector, it is essential to be at the forefront of technological advancements and utilize them to deliver exceptional value to clients”
2. Can you share with us a specific project or accomplishment that you are particularly proud of and why?
One project that stands out to me is when we completely digitized our work processes almost a decade ago. We eliminated all external spreadsheets and digitized thousands of binders and millions of pages, becoming the first organic certification body to do so. This transformative initiative fundamentally changed how we worked and what we could achieve. It was a proud moment for me and my team.
3. Can you speak to the biggest challenges you have faced in your career and how you overcame them?
Well, I've fallen in the mud pretty hard with a failed merger. We worked on this for about a year, night and day, and had a massive agreement except where we needed it most. We had to make the best of the experience, harvest what we learned, adapt, and change course. It was a huge learning experience because it helped me understand how to pick myself and my team up, dust off, and succeed.
Accountability and clear direction are essential elements for success in any endeavor. By taking ownership of decisions and driving towards well-defined goals, individuals and organizations create a roadmap for achievement, allowing for adaptability and continuous growth
4. What do you think is the biggest factor affecting the TIC industry at the moment?
In my opinion, the rise of technology and the rapid pace of change are the biggest factors impacting the TIC industry. With tightening margins, companies that embrace technology, execute effectively, and adapt to evolving trends will have a competitive edge. Staying ahead of technological advancements and leveraging them to deliver value to clients is crucial for success.
“I believe in fostering a culture of quality and ownership”
5. What is your approach to leadership and team management?
I don't ask anyone to try or work harder than I'm willing to. I ask a lot, look for quality and expect it from myself and others. I like to celebrate wins and have a weakness for gifts and team awards to celebrate when we finish projects.
6. How do you prioritize and manage your workload to ensure success?
Whew, not as well as I'd like. Prioritization and workload management are ongoing challenges for me. I think about what is important, what my team needs, and what current and prospective customers need. I try to save the "fun" stuff for when I get the unfun stuff done.
Tactically, I rely on various tools such as making lists, I track tasks and subjects online to have my bullet points ready to go when talking to someone. I've become a much better typist, and I take detailed notes for every meeting in a cloud platform so I can refer back anywhere, anytime.
7. How do you spend time outside of work?
I prioritize my well-being and enjoy physical activities . I bike when I can, and I run when I have to. I lost instead of gaining weight in the pandemic by kicking my exercise into a habit and practice. I'll sprinkle in some golf, too, from time to time.
8. In 3 words only - What is the secret to your success?
Own your choices.