When you grow up the youngest of 12 children, you learn a lot about people.
For Jason Payton 12EvMBA, those early years spent surrounded by so many different personalities and perspectives continue to inform every aspect of his life, from spending quality time with his wife and young daughters to commanding the boardroom in his role at ScottMadden Management Consultants. "I think we’ve all found ourselves in a professional situation where an issue isn’t a legal problem, necessarily, but could be ethically or morally questionable. What you do and where you stand in those times define who you are as a leader, and as a person."
“I’ve known my whole life that I am adopted,” said Payton. “My late parents and my siblings opened their home and their hearts to me when they didn’t have to — because that’s who they were and are. It’s who I am, too, and I think growing up in an environment like that ingrained in me a real sense of the value and power of developing interpersonal relationships.”
In 2009, after building a reputation for natural leadership on his way up the ladder to national account executive with a building construction distributor, Payton entered Goizueta’s Evening MBA in pursuit of the business skills necessary for career growth.
“Switching to a new job is one thing,” Payton said, “but I wanted more — I wanted skills in a whole new industry function.” Payton wanted to polish up his operations management insights and to develop an understanding for strategy and implementation. For Payton, Goizueta was the perfect fit.
“Goizueta focuses on things like accountability, rigor, and principled leadership. I think we’ve all found ourselves in a professional situation where an issue isn’t a legal problem, necessarily, but could be ethically or morally questionable. What you do and where you stand in those times define who you are as a leader, and as a person, and my experiences during the program reaffirmed my own personal standards and convictions—something I bring into my work every day,” Payton said.
Education provided the foundation, but it’s Payton’s innate ability to connect with others that has earned him a lot of respect, both personally and professionally. "It all comes down to relationships that matter." “Nobody’s ever had to say to me, ‘Oh, Jason is a great guy,’ they just already know he is a person of substance,” said Ray Hill, a senior lecturer at Goizueta. “I always advise my students to be the kind of person who is so respected and valued that while everyone else is just throwing out ideas, it’s you the boss comes to for insight. That’s the kind of leader Jason is,” Hill said. To Payton, climbing the corporate ladder isn’t how he measures success. Instead, he focuses on going beyond what’s expected to create something extraordinary.
“The highest form of praise I receive is when my colleagues, or a former client, come back and choose me to be a part of another project,” Payton said. “Every day, there is a team of folks who are depending on me, and it’s so important to me not to let them down. I want to do a good job because I take pride in my work, but I also want to make my team look good—and they know it.”
Whether he’s meeting with a client, leading a Communities of Practice group within ScottMadden, serving on the Goizueta Alumni Board or giving back to his community, Payton says it all comes down to relationships that matter. “What I’m doing now is the culmination of all of those foundational experiences — my upbringing, my education at Morehouse College and Goizueta, my previous employer, and my early relationship with ScottMadden,” said Payton. “I’m proud to know that what I’ve done for my clients and within the company has had a positive impact which has been reflected in the response from leadership. And a good deal of the influence I’m privileged to share isn’t boiling the ocean — it’s in the small things.”