Achieving ‘just right’ with a smile

Manish Kothari believes in seizing opportunities that make sense for Jax Federal Credit Union.

September 25, 2020

Manish Kothari has two key rules for success in work and in life: Never settle for less than just right, and aim to make people remember you with a smile on their face.

Kothari is chief information officer (CIO) at Jax Federal Credit Union, Jacksonville, Fla., where he sets a high standard for information systems (IS) and facility spending. He holds fast to his “just right” rule even when managers return from conferences with “great ideas” for new purchases.

“It needs to be right from the integration, installation, and training perspectives,” Kothari says.

Yet Kothari also believes in seizing opportunities that make sense. The $465 million asset credit union was an early adopter of DocuSign for electronic signatures, SD-WAN solution, teller cash recyclers, and the VxRail hyper-converged solution that provides an integrated framework for IS applications.

A native of India, Kothari came to the U.S. in 1995. He was an IS consultant for Jax Federal and other clients in 2006 when the credit union moved his work in-house for higher security. Kothari was helping recruit for the position when he realized it was the right fit for him.

Kothari has since recruited all but one of his six IS employees. The IS team shares his dedication to doing good work while laughing at good-natured jokes and everyday life.

The team regularly celebrates “small wins” with praise and ice cream. A “no whining, no complaining” rule is tempered by a standing invitation to talk face-to-face when professional or personal issues arise.

“If you can’t have fun at work and you are going to be absolutely serious all the time, then you can’t work on the IS team,” Kothari says.

Kothari uses his time off to travel the world on behalf of his company, Prism Lighting Services LLC, and holds the patent for Prism Inflatable Lights. His father also holds a patent, as does Kothari’s wife, Prachi, who runs a home health care company.

“It’s in our blood that we have to be innovating and doing unique stuff,” Kothari says. “‘Stagnancy leads to decay’ was my dad’s mantra to me.”

Kothari encourages his daughters, medical school student Isha and university student Shailee, to “go out into the world and learn.”

“God put you on this earth to do something creative and good,” Kothari says.

“I want people to remember me with a smile because I helped somebody, promoted somebody, coached somebody, or manufactured something for the betterment of society.”

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