Jhonys Diaz believes a cigar is a living thing, nurtured by passionate people, until it is lit.
Master blender and icon, Diaz is renowned as the expert for Scandinavian Tobacco Group’s premium cigar division. His popularity is a product of twenty dedicated years in the industry.
A native of the Dominican Republic, Diaz studied economics and agriculture in Santiago before relocating to the United States to further his studies in business management and finance, as well as hold various managerial roles for a large American multinational. But his career in tobacco began years later, in 1999, when he joined General Cigar Co. as Operations and Planning Manager.
“I was responsible for improving the company’s information systems and streamlining specific business modules. As I learned more about the business, I could see that everything the company did (and still does) was very much dependent on people. Although we have the best and most efficient processes in place, without passionate people we cannot possibly do what we do. From our cigar rollers and leaf experts Don Quico and Ernest Gocaj , to visionaries like Regis Broersma … I was intrigued by the passion of those individuals; I wanted to get more involved in a business that was driven by people who truly loved what they were doing.”
Despite the challenges that come with the pursuit of passion, Diaz understands how to transform obstacles into opportunities.
“The premium cigar industry is very intense and poses many challenges, which act as motivators for me. Any challenges I noticed were offset by the fact that I witnessed rewarding activities every step of the way, in every level of the organisation. Nothing is more satisfying than being able to work with so many people across the company.”
When Diaz was promoted to Vice President of Operations in 2009, he was charged with overseeing the entire operation of supply chain planning and collaborates extensively in his frequent travels across the Americas and Europe.
“My role is collaborative and I enjoy that. I spend a great deal of time working with people in all areas of the company – there are approximately 4,000 individuals I oversee. My focus is on monitoring and evaluating the business. I spend a lot of time in our factories, working with my team to develop and implement initiatives to improve our processes and the quality of our cigars. I also oversee tobacco processing and cigar making, and have a sharp focus on quality assurance. In a typical week, I’m traveling either to one of our factories, or to meet with independent growers to inspect the tobacco that’s grown for us, to ensure it meets our high quality standards. While this takes a great deal of time, I always come back from these trips energised.”
Diaz is ignited by the opportunity to continue improving and maintaining our leadership position in the premium cigar category.
“Inspiration comes from many sources and, after 20 years, I still find that passion for the business is contagious. I have learned to be open minded to all suggestions, because new thinking and new ideas can lead to great innovations. I see opportunities for us to use tobaccos from growing regions that only we have access to, which I find very exciting. I believe that Scandinavian Tobacco Group and General Cigar will continue to stand alone, above all others, when it comes to our tobacco expertise.”
How do we nurture nature’s finest?https://www.st-group.com/en/about-our-tobacco/making-of-tobacco/cigars