JA Alumni: Impact That Spans Generations

Posted in: Alumni Stories, JA Impact

Jonas McCormick is a JA Central District Board Member and Principal of Strategy & Operations at Deloitte’s Arizona practice. He recently shared about the impact Junior Achievement had on both his daughter and him:

As Jonas reflects back to his junior high school experience, his memories of Junior Achievement (JA) are crystal clear. In his hometown of Sterling, Illinois, Joel Bittorff, a local manufacturing executive, volunteered with JA to teach a classroom of students at Newman Middle School about business.

“The JA course and Joel taught the fundamental and foundational elements of business,” said Jonas. “Joel would actually have everyone get up and show them how to shake hands, everything from a firm handshake to making and maintaining eye contact – simple things that everyone in business must know, but are often overlooked.”

Joel used his real world experience of running a manufacturing company to provide the class with an idea of the “nuts and bolts” of business – from manufacturing, fabrication, and materials procurement, to marketing, pricing, revenue, costs, and profitability. In fact, Jonas remembers having the opportunity to physically hold his volunteer’s products – actual nuts, bolts, hinges and other hardware products from National Manufacturing, Inc– while he learned about various business principles.

Later, in high school, Jonas once again had the opportunity to participate in JA when he and his classmates had the opportunity to run their own business selling school spirit t-shirts, through the JA Company Program. He remembers how impactful it was to learn the ins-and-outs of business first-hand, under the guidance of a JA volunteer from the real world business community.

Jonas, like one-third of all JA students, credits the positive experiences with JA for having impacted his interest in business and his career decisions. McCormick went on to major in business at the University of Notre Dame and has spent his entire career in the business consulting arena. Today, he is the Managing Partner of the Arizona practice of Deloitte, one of the leading business consulting and professional services firms in the world and the largest and #1 ranked firm in Arizona. In addition to working with some of the largest and most complex businesses in the state through his work at Deloitte, Jonas also serves on the Greater Phoenix Economic Council (GPEC) as well as Greater Phoenix Leadership (GPL) and is clearly a leader in the business community in Phoenix.

“JA provides the opportunity to spark an interest in business at an early age through the exposure to the principles of economics and commerce. It provides the fundamental concepts for business when students are just learning about how the economy works. That interest then grows into passion and matures.”

Skip forward thirty years from Jonas’ first exposure to JA, to the late spring of 2017 when the sixth grade class of St. John Bosco was visiting the JA Biz Town in Tempe, Arizona. Several of the instructors remarked about an enterprising young sixth grader who was working in the role of CEO and creating innovative pricing strategies to sell her company’s products to her peers. The JA instructors asked the teachers from St John Bosco who the young entrepreneur was and it turned out to be Abby McCormick, Jonas’ twelve year old daughter.  When Jonas was told about his daughter’s keen knack for driving revenue and making sales, he shared how proud he was to see her take full advantage of the experience, embrace her role and be fully engaged in the process.

As their involvement with JA spans two generations, Abby is continuing to follow in her father’s foot-steps in her enthusiasm for JA and she is contemplating a future in the business world just like her Dad. As the JA volunteers observed, it is apparent that Abby has a sharp mind for business and the interest and passion to match.  One thing is clearly evident – in the McCormick family the apple most definitely does not fall far from the tree!