J. Ofori Agboka isn't just climbing the ladder of success, he's moving up by leaps and bounds.
As the current human resources director for the General Motors Co. North America manufacturing strategy and global manufacturing staffs, Agboka attributes much of his professional success to lessons learned during his two years on the football field at Louisiana State University.
"I thought I would be a doctor, a car designer or a professional football player," he recalled. "When I was in 10th grade, Detroit Lions football player Jerry Ball, who lived in my neighborhood, gave me some advice I'll never forget. He said, 'For every player in the NFL, there are 100 starters who don't make it. You must have a plan B.'"
He graduated in December 1998 with a degree in psychology.
"I'd do it all over again," he said. "With classes in the morning, stretching regimens at noon followed by warmups, drills, studies and meals, you had to manage your time wisely."
Agboka took the importance of teamwork he learned as a college athlete into the business world, starting his professional career at GM.
"As a human resources leader, you truly appreciate the concept of a team," he said. "You have to know your role, and to understand that everyone on the team has the same objective. Someone is always depending on you to play your position well."
In 2010, with multinational experience in his professional portfolio, Agboka landed his dream job as the human resources director of global design, a role that allowed him to work with innovative car designers around the world. By 2013, he was globetrotting again, moving to Zurich to assume the role of HR director for Chevrolet and Cadillac Europe.
Agboka returned to Michigan a year later and assumed the position of GM's human resources director for U.S. sales, service and marketing. He stepped into his current role this past April, and was recognized as a 2016 Automotive News "Rising Star" for his increasingly influential efforts as a young executive leader, mentor and champion for organizational excellence.
"I've had great mentors encourage me to stretch and take on more than I might have thought I was capable of," he said. "I'm just looking forward to the next challenge and getting to the next level, whatever it might be. You've got to play the game today to get to the Super Bowl tomorrow."
To read the full story on Agboka's journey, click here.