Profile of James White of Jamba Juice in the San Francisco Business Times
April 23, 2010
Background: White arrived in December 2008 from Safeway, where he was senior vice president of consumer brands. Over 25 years, he has worked at numerous Fortune 500 consumer product companies, including Gillette, Nestlé and Coca-Cola. Jamba had 2009 revenue of $301.6 million and has over 10,000 employees.
First job: Working at a hamburger joint in St. Louis at age 16.
Education: B.A., University of Missouri at Columbus; M.B.A. from Fontbonne University in St. Louis.
How’s business: We’re making good progress. I started in December 2008 and laid out a clear plan to turn around and ultimately transform the company. … The economy is still tough, but we’ve made good progress against our blueprint.
Biggest challenge for your business: The consumer continues to be challenged.
What’s going to change at your company in the next year: Expect to see us continue to innovate from a menu perspective . We have a new hot beverage platform; we have exciting consumer products we’re in the process of rolling out.
Goal yet to be achieved: We’re repositioning the company from a smoothie company to an active lifestyle brand. It’s within reach, but it’s a multi-year piece of work.
How will you know that you’ve achieved it: As we build a world-class company, we will continue to raise the bar. There really is not an end point.
Guiding principles for good management: I believe leaders need to be teachers first and foremost, and I believe in building organizations that are learning organizations.
Best way to keep competitive edge: An organization that can outlearn and out-anticipate what is next always has an advantage in the marketplace.
Why people like working for you: I always make a significant commitment in development. Specifically, I invest in people’s careers.
Best business decision: Near term, deciding to join Jamba as CEO. I’ve been blown away by the power of the Jamba brand.
Hardest lesson learned: Great teams that are highly aligned always outperform teams with less talent. An A player will always be more valuable than two or three B or C players.
Like best about job: I love the passion of the employees in our stores.
Pet peeve: I’m very, very focused on results and results driven. I’m a firm believer in no excuses.
Most respected competitor: I have a lot of respect in the restaurant industry for the folks at Panera and the folks at Chipotle. And P.F. Chang’s.
First choice for a new career: There’s no new career at this point.
Most influential books: “The Leadership Engine,” by Noel Tichy, and “Doing What Matters” by Jim Kilts, an old boss of mine.
Favorite cause: Anything that deals with kids in schools, and in particular as it relates to the work we’re doing at Jamba.
Favorite movie: “Remember the Titans.”
Favorite restaurant: P.F. Chang’s.
Favorite way to spend free time: With my family.
On your iPod: I’m a big fan of jazz. Any easy listening. Anything with a good beat to work out to.