Like Father, like Daughter: Anika Jackson, Excels as Entrepreneur

Gregory and Anika JacksonAs a young girl growing up in metro Detroit, Anika Jackson developed an acumen for business that was far beyond her years. By the time she was a senior in high school, she had already successfully owned and operated a vending machine business called The Kids Candy Company.

The success of this business was predicated on her desire to learn and apply essential principles of business that placed the teen at a nice level of profitability. A large part of Jackson’s business thirst was quenched by her father, Gregory Jackson, one of the nation’s most prominent and respected entrepreneurs.

When her father talked about the intricacies of building profitable businesses, young Anika recalled that she was all ears, as the elder Jackson was the visionary, creator, and driving force of a conglomeration of companies that holds the distinction of being only one of three Black-owned entities in the United States to have ever reached $1 billion or more in yearly sales.

“My father is an awesome entrepreneur,” said Jackson. “He has taught me so many things about every aspect of business. He’s taught me to be action-oriented, which means it’s okay to talk about what needs to be done, but it’s more important to make things happen.”

Today, Anika Jackson is making things happen as vice president of Jackson Asset Management, a diversified metro Detroit holding company that has a portfolio of successful businesses, including Prestige Automotive Group and Jackson Land Holding LLC. In her fast-paced role, Jackson lends executive power to facilitate every aspect of four automotive dealerships — Mercedes-Benz of St. Clair Shores, Toyota of Warren in Warren, Michigan, Courtesy Ford of Okemos, Michigan and Prestige Cadillac in Warren.

In her executive role with Jackson Land Holding LLC, Jackson oversees more than $25 million in construction projects and more than $75 million in real estate initiatives. Jackson also oversees the company’s ownership of the historic high rise Lafayette Towers (downtown Detroit), as well as a business center in the Midtown/New Center area. Additionally, she gives executive leadership to the company-owned Cooper Ridge Golf Course in Davidson, Michigan.

While it’s true that Jackson has learned a lot about owning and operating a multicity of businesses from her father, she has also educationally and corporately prepared herself for the tough and diverse business tasks and decisions that she confronts daily.

After graduating from Mercy High School in Farmington Hills, Jackson attended Spelman College where she earned a bachelor’s degree in economics. She returned to metro Detroit to work for her father and three years later decided to attend graduate school at Purdue University where she received an MBA degree. She later graduated from the National Automobile Dealer Association Dealer Academy.

After earning her MBA, Jackson moved to Chicago, where she went through AT&T’s Leadership Development Program, which subsequently led to her holding several upper management positions in such areas as construction technology, marketing and the company’s massive call center.

“It was a great experience for me at AT&T, because I was managing people for the first time in my life,” said Jackson. “Some of the people that I was managing were twice my age. I was also managing people from different ethnicities.”

While Jackson was a rising star at AT&T in Chicago, she couldn’t help but notice that her father back home was venturing into some interesting non-automotive businesses, something that she found intriguing. She also noticed that her beloved city of Detroit was ready to rise again, even though it was still mired in bankruptcy and under the controversial control of an emergency manager.

Although she was doing extremely well in the Windy City, Anika Jackson realized that she needed to be in the Motor City. Thus, after a three-and-a-half-year professional corporate stint in Chicago, Jackson returned home recently to take the vice presidency reins of Jackson Asset Management.

Since her return, Jackson, in addition to her vast executive responsibilities, has started Wink City, a photography-inspired clothing line business which carries iconic images of Detroit. She also makes time to help others in the community through The Connection Network, a group of young professional women of color that assists in the development of each other, while first doing philanthropy work, including mentoring young women in the community.

Jackson is also an active member of Junior League of Detroit, an organization dedicated to promoting voluntarism, as well as developing women to empower local communities through leadership.

“I’m just a Detroit girl, through and through. People who know me know that I’m a ‘D’ girl,” said Jackson, who the Michigan Chronicle included recently on its list of 40 African American leaders under 40 years old who are making a significant difference in the region.

“I’m proud to be from here and I’m looking forward to being a significant part of Detroit’s comeback. I feel that my talents will be better served here, and not just professionally, but throughout the many great communities in this great city.”

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