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Ignas Jurkonis of NCS Group: “Listening”

Listening. We are all different sets of experiences, backgrounds and personalities. Hearing and listening are different. Listening is for understanding the motivation, passion and learning the audience. As a part of our series about “How business leaders can create a fantastic work environment”, I had the pleasure of interviewing Ignas Jurkonis, a U.S. based entrepreneur, […]

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Listening. We are all different sets of experiences, backgrounds and personalities. Hearing and listening are different. Listening is for understanding the motivation, passion and learning the audience.


As a part of our series about “How business leaders can create a fantastic work environment”, I had the pleasure of interviewing Ignas Jurkonis, a U.S. based entrepreneur, businessman, consultant, and top executive. His primary focus is on company value turnarounds, combining traditional industries and modern management philosophies. Ignas is known for his support of young entrepreneurs, multiple social projects, and non-profit activity, with a guest lecture series in place with University of Southern California (UCS) — Marshall School of Business. Currently, under his formed NCS Group, Ignas is leading and developing a group of companies through a series of M&A acting as a priority freight forwarder and visionary supply chain solution for Fortune 500 companies, also inclusive of notable brands like Walgreens, Boots Alliance, 3M, GlaxoSmithKline across the U.S. market.

Ignas Jurkonis has always actively been involved in charity and non-profit events and organizations, both in the U.S. and overseas. In 2020 Ignas has actively supported the fight with COVID-19 providing U.S. hospitals with free freight services. In March of, 2020, Unlimited Carrier Inc., under the NCS Group umbrella, based in Bolingbrook, Illinois, dedicated more than 50 Trucks to Transport Medical Supplies to Hospitals Free of Charge under the direction of Jurkonis. Several new additional alignments to help both COVID-19 efforts and the widespread fires in need of relief are in development for aid support.

In 2015 he supported a non-profit project called Baltic Marathons for a series of sporting events in Latvia and the Baltic States. In 2016 Ignas established a personal charity fund in Ukraine and initiated a social project together with Kiev City Administration, led by Mayor Vitali Klitschko, and Embassies of multiple countries, including Lithuania, Latvia, Moldova, Israel, and others. During the project, Angels of Nations (Ангели націй) 25 angel statues were donated to the city of Kiev as a symbol of support from Ignas Jurkonis and multiple countries.

In 2018, after moving to the United States, Ignas joined Unlimited Carrier Inc., based in Chicago, Illinois. After the acquisition of National Consolidation Services LLC, he formed the NCS Group. He is currently developing the group of companies and is acting as it’s Executive Chairman and CEO. NCS Group is a priority freight forwarder and visionary supply chain solution provider for Walgreens, Boots Alliance, 3M, GlaxoSmithKline, and other Fortune 500 companies in the U.S. market.

In 2020 Ignas Jurkonis became a Patron for the Global Lithuanian Leaders organization and was honored to represent the Lithuanian Confederation of Industrialists and the Lithuanian Chamber of Tourism for the United States of America. He also became a guest lecturer for the University of Southern California — Marshall School of Business.


Thank you so much for doing this with us! Can you tell us a story about what brought you to this specific career path?

During the last 16 years, I was a resident in 6 different countries, on 3 different continents. I was involved in dozens of investment and entrepreneurial projects. I acted as Board member and CEO in numerous organizations with thousands of employees in Global Oil markets. My area of expertise during that period of time ranged from high risk and alarming situations in revolutions and war zones to diplomatic and social non profit projects. My background was always very international and I love multicultural teams. Business for me was always tightly related with human relationships, creativity and passion. This is how I determined and formed the sense and understanding of success. All of that developed a unique skills and leadership style, orientated to people communication, psychology and high emotional intelligence.

Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you began leading your company?

I honestly feel that I have never worked in my life. Not even a day. Business somehow became my lifestyle, source of excitement and life celebration. It provides me resources to do something next and to do something meaningful. Some projects are failed but most of them create the next chapter of this life long reality show. I meet a lot of people, travel a lot and I live an active life, so stories are a big collection I have.

I can share one story that I keep in my heart, a recent event during the COVID-19 pandemic. We have a company Unlimited Carrier with a fleet of 500 trucks which is servicing one of the largest US retailers Walgreens. During the pandemic all of this business was essential and we had a very busy period. However, at the same time our organization, supporting safety on the roads, has so called “no forced dispatch” policy, when a driver can refuse to start driving the truck if he feels unsafe for any reason. That created a challenge when our employees started to refuse to go to the epicenters of COVID-19, such as New York or L.A. Thay have families and loved ones at home and didn’t feel safe.

So we started delivering medical and hospital freight free of charge. We had 50 trucks with special markings and heroic drivers that were providing this essential service for our communities and society in most dangerous cities through pandemic. And as soon as we started doing that, I had this great surprise of many drivers, supported by their families, stepped up and asked me to assign them to this project because they wanted to help. I am really proud and grateful of them and their purpose and it was just this smallest step we did as an organization for this human effort to happen, just 50 trucks and free freight for our hospitals.

Are you working on any exciting projects now? How do you think that will help people?

Currently I am developing several projects in the US. The main business is the NCS Group. NCS is a group of asset based companies in the supply chain providing deeply integrated, taylored and innovative solutions for Fortune 500 companies. Apart from providing the excellent custom service to our customers, our business culture is about serving our communities. We look at supply chain and servicing pharmacies as a purpose to make sure we deliver medications, products, food, commodities so smoothly that people and final consumers will never feel the lack of them. We shape the supply chain solutions with no shortage, overstock and waste of production, which is extremely important thinking about our optimal use of the world’s resources. At the same time we strongly support organic and human health orientated producers, solving their short product shelf life and logistical challenges. I am really happy about the shift towards sustainable, healthier and organic production during recent years.

Ok, lets jump to the main part of our interview. According to this study cited in Forbes, more than half of the US workforce is unhappy. Why do you think that number is so high?

I would start with one of my beliefs. Any organization, no matter if it is a private, public or government sector is simply millions of daily conversations. We communicate with each other to build mutual goals and purposes and to get everyone on the same page within the organization. Being aware of the importance of communication and it’s qualitative management creates tolerance, respect and finally a sense of happiness. However, not enough attention to the quality of conversations will lead to increased frustration, misunderstanding and confusion.

Based on your experience or research, how do you think an unhappy workforce will impact a) company productivity b) company profitability c) and employee health and wellbeing?

Productivity, profitability and employee well being are all related to company value. In fact, this is something I focus mostly on in business. I think value creation comes from a well aligned diversified team of talent that commit to the purpose they believe in on their free will. As a result they clearly understand their role, personal value and are willing to do more. In such a situation we can start to generate strategies on value determination and creation. And it is not rocket science, let’s think about ourselves. When we have a well balanced lifestyle and our jobs are tightly related to our life interests and hobbies and have just the right amount of stress, excitement and recognition. Our productivity will go up. The question for the leader is to understand people in those jobs, how much do they fit that well being.

Can you share 5 things that managers and executives should be doing to improve their company work culture? Can you give a personal story or example for each?

Listening. We are all different sets of experiences, backgrounds and personalities. Hearing and listening are different. Listening is for understanding the motivation, passion and learning the audience.

Respect. Employees are people and everyone just takes their role in organizations. Respect has to create the comfort and support motivation as well as creativity.

Creativity. I think an environment supporting creativity is a fun environment. Such an environment encourages challenges, innovations, and focuses on beauty and quality in what we do.

Purpose. I always try to find a non material purpose of why we gather together as a team or organization. Why we spend time in the office and what we will leave after us. This is what we will remember.

Communication. All organizations are basically just conversations. Managing the quality of those with emotional intelligence skills, you directly manage the success.

It’s very nice to suggest ideas, but it seems like we have to “change the culture regarding work culture”. What can we do as a society to make a broader change in the US workforce’s work culture?

I think our world and work environment changed a lot with the millennial generation. I remember the times when my parents and grandparents looked to their jobs as some sort of safety. Organizations were pretty much guaranteeing a career from school to retirement, including all benefits, trainings. I believe that in today’s world, when the average company’s life is much shorter and people want to be active longer, it is almost impossible to stay within one organization for all career. In such a situation every individual becomes a brand, with benefits, value proposition, and character. Companies are not interested in developing talents so much, they want to invest in talents that are ready to start now. Society should focus on encouraging personal and skills development and helping to match that with careers. It would create a sense of personal purpose of oneself no matter which organization he or she joins. So an organization will be built not only for common purpose but also aligned with multiple individual purposes of their talent.

How would you describe your leadership or management style? Can you give us a few examples?

I love learning and developing. It happens that I always seek to gather very strong teams around me and I love to learn from them. It expands my mental model taking and accepting their point of view of things. Finally, we come to the point where we are all focused on the same goal even if we describe it differently, so my part as the leader remains supporting them and helping them, as well as seeing the full scope of interaction. My leadership style is listening and managing communication. Encouraging education, life balance, creativity and execution. And I always suggest meditation for finding calm hours with yourself to reset.

None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story about that?

One of my hobbies is Wine. Wine, same as art for me, is one of the most subjective areas where there is no right answer, just tolerance is respect to each other’s senses. I love spending autumn in the Champagne region of France and one of my dear friends that owns a vineyard, explained the philosophy of their business. He is enjoying the profits from the wine that he sells today which was produced by his grandparents and he is producing the wine today that will be a financial source for the families of his children and grandkids. I share this example as a philosophy of something bigger than just tomorrow’s profits or annual dividends. This is about the value of the business, purpose, commitment that is created, maintained and passed further from generation to generation. Someone explained to me that there are two types of games, finite with rules and a finish line where you win or lose; and infinite with no rules and no finish line, where we end the game weather when we are tired or we finish the resources. Business for me is an infinite game, same as wine. I always seek for business purposes matching my beliefs and values, so I can build it stronger and longer lasting, while being honestly proud of it.

How have you used your success to bring goodness to the world?

I believe that leaders carry a lot of responsibility and are accountable not only for their employees. When we think about the impact we do, we are responsible for families, friends, communities of those employees. Their values, their dinner stories, their vacations, their health, quality of life, experiences, memories and so many other aspects. When we think of all consequences for what we say, do, how we act, inspire. We can change so much being great actors in our positions. I pay a lot of attention not only to what we do but also why and how we do it, and we talk about it until we understand.

Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?

We have to be able to see directly into the eyes of everyone. Leadership is not only fun, creativity, passion and excitement. Real leadership starts when we come up to something tough and rough. We all have losses, mistakes, bad choices, hard decisions. That’s where we start the real inner honest dialogue with ourselves. Your name is the only thing that is left no matter what, so we need to take care of it.

You are a person of great influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂

My most favorite movements are related to life quality as health, sustainability, mindfulness and life balance. My inspiration would probably be to create the change of our organizational purposes and goals from usual KPIs and financial metrics to life quality measurements of people involved. When I think of it, I probably need to start looking for a VP of Happiness in my organizations. )

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