As the Presidential race heats up, we will continue to hear both candidates talk about a very important topic to Americans — jobs! Both candidates will try to convince voters about how they will help our economy grow more jobs. Closer to home, there are those who work on the front lines of keeping and growing jobs in our state. One of the leaders in this arena is Jay C. Moon, president and CEO of the Mississippi Manufacturers Association (MMA). The MMA, which represents more than 2,200 manufacturers and associated members, is an important and influential voice in our state. Moon brings over 25 years of professional economic development experience to his job and is a recognized leader in the state and the nation in his field.
Moon was born in Pensacola, Fla., and grew up in a Navy family, which moved around the country in his youth including four years in Caracas, Venezuela. He earned a B.A. in international relations from the University of Georgia as well as a master’s in public administration. Moon has spent most of his career in the public sector in leadership positions which began with the Mississippi Council on Aging where he served as executive director. He went on to serve as director of community services for Gulfport, Miss., and then as deputy director for the Mississippi Development Authority for over 14 years before taking on his current role with the MMA. Moon serves on numerous boards and committees, and he is the current chairman of the International Economic Development Council (IEDC), the largest economic development organization in the world.
Moon shared that his father was his most significant role model, who taught him his work ethic and approach to working with others. He also noted the valuable leadership lessons he has learned from working with governors and private sector leaders over the years. He shared a quote that stayed with him from one of his first bosses, “I will never ask you to work for me — only work with me.” Moon emphasized, “It is a consistent philosophy I have utilized throughout my career.”
I find that most successful leaders have a set of core leadership principles that they live by. Moon said that his core principles involve integrity, honesty, hard work and attention to detail. He said, “I conduct myself in a professional manner, and I expect those working with me to do so, as well.”
Moon also recognizes that, “everyone brings unique talents to any organization and that everyone’s job is valuable.” He seeks to support the growth of his team and to “insure that those who work with me can work in a stable and professional work environment.”
I asked Moon about his advice for future leaders, and he emphasized that, “I encourage future leaders to listen more than they speak. A good leader takes into consideration the work-related needs of those they work with and listens to their personal needs and suggestions.” Moon said that the next generation of leaders will need to understand the dynamics of a changing workplace. He shared, “The significantly higher levels of communication options, new ways that younger employees use technology to stay informed, the speed at which information flows and the rapidity of technology obsolescence has made it incumbent upon future leaders to insure that they and their workforce sift through those many data sources to find and utilize relevant information for their respective organizations.”
Moon and his team at the MMA are on the front lines of making a difference for Mississippians. We live in a very competitive environment for industry so it is nice to have professionals like Moon who are helping to lead the way to create jobs in our state.