Bates News | 12-22-20
SWIFS December 2020 Spotlight on Bates Group CEO Jennifer Stout
Jennifer Stout, Bates Group CEO and honorary member of Southeastern Women in Financial Services (SWIFS), is featured in the SWIFS December 2020 Member Spotlight. Read her Q&A interview below.
Q: What 3 pieces of advice would you give women in this industry?
A: I try to live by two values in my life: showing up and curiosity (thank you Brené Brown). These guide me, and they are the basis of what I have found to be successful in my career and in this industry (although it could be translated to any industry). The first is to support other women. Showing up for women is important to me. Sharing in their successes, introducing them to opportunities, supporting them, singing their praises, helping them network, etc. It is personally rewarding for me and I believe it brings success to us all, women and men.
The second is connecting, which for me is closely related to curiosity. I believe it is important to be curious and ask questions to truly learn about who an individual is as a person. Every person is unique and has had different experiences getting to where they are now. I cherish my time connecting with people and learning their stories. It helps to make me a better person both professionally and personally.
My last piece of advices to say YES! Say yes to as many opportunities as possible that come your way. Early in my career I was offered the opportunity to learn computer programming so I could lead our IT team. As a tax accountant, this seemed crazy. But I said yes, completed a year of evening classes and earned a promotion to lead our IT team. It was my first step into a leadership position. Saying YES can bring many unexpected and positive results.
Q: What is your greatest professional accomplishment?
A: Being part of Bates in its various forms for over 27 years makes me both proud and humbled. The relationships I have built, both internally and externally, have been invaluable to my success and my growth as a professional. To become the CEO and largest unit holder of a firm that has provided me so many amazing opportunities to grow and be continuously challenged has been a blessing and a wonderful accomplishment.
Q: What has been your greatest professional challenge?
A: Over the years I have suffered from negative thoughts that cause me to question my worthiness to be in the room, at the table, on the call, in the meeting, etc. I think this is a common theme among women. The antidote for me has been to power through my negative thoughts, make a point of speaking up, and continuing to show up. I am bolstered by a remarkable community of friends, colleagues, formal and informal coaches, and clients who provide invaluable support and guidance. Also, I am an optimist by nature, so I try to learn from the challenges I face, pivot as necessary, and gain strength to focus on the next opportunity.