OJ DeSouza – 20 Under 40


Signature Baking Company
Education: Northwestern University – Kellogg School of Management

OJ Desouza, continuing a family tradition that started in 1909, joined the family business, Signature Baking Company, right after college.

“Growing up, my siblings and I always helped out with whatever was needed, but starting in 2006, I began assisting with the business’s sales,” DeSouza said. “For the last 15 years, our company has grown organically and mainly through word of mouth throughout DFW.”

His father inspired him to continue the family business.

“The mission of providing pathways to self-sufficiency is something I greatly believe in.”

“After majoring in biomedical engineering and applying to medical schools, my dad challenged me to spend a year shadowing him at the family business that he built from the ground up to see if it interested me,” DeSouza said. “After landing Maple & Motor and Snuffer’s as new clients, I fell in love with it. I was meeting with clients, tackling operational issues, and brainstorming growth opportunities.”

While Signature Baking Company is rooted in tradition, the pandemic inspired it to adapt with a home delivery model.

“By creating our home delivery model, we have met so many fantastic people in Dallas – influencers, families, charities, and companies. The pandemic pushed us to formally introduce our company to Dallas,” DeSouza said. “We’ve never advertised our company or services before – we didn’t even have social media! 

“It’s been fun to showcase what we’ve been doing behind the scenes in Dallas for the last 42 years and even better to feel the love back from our city.”

Eventually, DeSouza hopes to take it national.

When he’s not working, he serves on the board of directors for the Wilkinson Center, a nonprofit he got involved with a decade or so ago.

“The mission of providing pathways to self-sufficiency is something I greatly believe in,” he said. “Our company is proud to donate hundreds of loaves and buns to the food pantry every week.”

If you could buy a book (or rent a movie) for your neighbor, what would it be and why?

The Namesake by Jhumpa Lahiri. It’s a story about an Indian couple migrating to America and starting a family. I connected with that movie, and I know my parents did as well as it follows similarly our family history of migrating to America to begin the bakery in Dallas.

Which leadership skills were the most challenging for you to develop and why?

Delegation has been a struggle for me through the years. I’ve always been one to do things myself to ensure it’s done right, but I’ve started challenging myself to delegate tasks to my team to allow us to grow.

Toughest business/personal challenge?

Recently, it has been balancing work and family life. There are many moving pieces in the company, especially in 2020 with the pandemic, the launch of our Home Delivery service, and welcoming our first son last May. I am trying to enjoy fatherhood while also navigating the company through these unprecedented times.

What’s on your bucket list?

I would love to go on Safari in Africa and add a second child to our family.

Fun fact that someone wouldn’t know about you:

I sang in an all-male acapella group in college and performed in summer musicals at ESD.

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Rachel Snyder

Rachel Snyder, deputy editor at People Newspapers, joined the staff in 2019, returning to her native Dallas-Fort Worth after starting her career at community newspapers in Oklahoma. One of her stories won first place in its category in the Oklahoma Press Association’s Better Newspaper Contest in 2018. She’s a fan of puns and community journalism, not necessarily in that order. You can reach her at [email protected]

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