A few months ago, John Pawlowski ’94 was sipping a coffee in Beachwood. Today, he’s charting a new course with his wife and children in Shanghai.
That’s because in September, the 37-year-old Pawlowski was promoted to Vice President, China Business Development, for the J.M. Smucker Company. In the position, he’s charged with developing and building a Smucker’s business in the Asian country.
“Living in one of the biggest cities on the planet is pretty exciting,” Pawlowski said a couple weeks before he was to leave for China. “I’m nervous, like anyone starting a new job or taking on something they’ve never done before. This is ‘show up and figure it out’ time, but I’m so excited about the journey.”
In his new position, Pawlowski will seek out and execute Smucker’s acquisitions of reputable Chinese food-related brands and build an import business of Smucker’s portfolio of brands including JIF peanut butter, Crisco Oil, Folger’s coffee and Smucker’s fruit spreads, all while building a team that can drive growth for the future. And though travel is a large part of his job, Pawlowski still expects to have a lot of time to spend with his family exploring Southeast Asia.
“That’s what I’m most looking forward to,” he says. “That, and giving my kids the experience of going to school, traveling and making new friends all over the world.”
Pawlowski and his wife, Julie, a photographer, are parents to three children: Jack, 9; Kate, 8; and Luke, 3.
As a father, Pawlowski tries to instill in his children passion and the ability to set goals. One of the family guidelines is for the kids to participate in at least one team sport and one 45 individual activity at all times, he says, so they’ll learn “the passion and commitment and camaraderie it takes to be successful throughout life.”
Pawlowski also shared some life lessons with Gilmour students when he spoke at last spring’s Sophomore Career Workshop. “My message was ‘Always have a plan,’” Pawlowski says. “And my point to the group was you need to have passion for what you want to do, and you have to have enough passion to say ‘Here’s how I’m going to get there.’ Make sure you’re willing to sit down and write it out and come up with a plan.”
Pawlowski also says students should be ready for their goals to change and be willing to re-evaluate their passions from time to time. “If you’re willing to do that, you’ll not only be successful, but happy,” he says.
As he embarks on his new, exotic journey in China, Pawlowski’s own passions are sure to evolve. “It’s not going to be perfect and we know that,” he says. “The hardest part is moving away from our families. But at the end of the day, when you look at it rationally, there’s just no way you cannot do this. It’s such an opportunity for all of us.”