Women’s History Month: Q&A with Balentine’s Female C-Suite Leaders
In honor of Women’s History Month this March, we celebrate three of our extraordinary female c-suite leaders who have made a tremendous impact throughout their careers and here at Balentine. In this article, President and Head of Relationship Management Brittain Prigge, Chief Compliance Officer Erica Farber, and Chief Operating Officer Jennifer Dangar reflect on their unique journeys and share valuable lessons they’ve learned along the way.
What was the best career advice you’ve ever received?
Brittain Prigge: The greatest piece of advice I’ve ever received comes from father, Jerry Ellis. He always used to tell me: “Always be a lady and take it easy, but take it.” I think that’s so important, especially in the financial services industry.
Erica Farber: That you cannot do it all. I didn’t listen to it until very recently, but it’s ended up being the truest advice I’ve ever received. I didn’t listen to it until very recently because I always thought it was something I could overcome. It took me a long time to realize and embrace that saying you cannot do it all, does not mean the same thing as failure. They’re very different. I couldn’t wrap my mind around that for a long time, but I understand that now.
What career advice would you give to the next generation of female leaders?
Jennifer Dangar: Get out of your comfort zone. Don’t be afraid to raise your hand and ask questions, and always say yes to new challenging opportunities. Although it can be daunting when you’re doing something new, have faith and view it as an opportunity to learn and grow. Real growth begins at the end of your comfort zone.
Erica Farber: I always thought I could create more time in a day and now I understand that’s just not true. One metaphor that has been impactful to me as of late is the Spoon Theory. You only have so many spoons of energy available each day. When you run out – that’s it, it’s done. The Spoon Theory is everything. I think it might be a universal truth. You can’t manufacture more time to exist in a day, so it’s important to use your spoons intentionally and wisely. Now I make better decisions as to what I want to use that energy for. Be stingy with your spoons – and don’t be apologetic about it.
“Don’t apologize for trying to live a full life. You can’t have it all, but you can have a lot. I have spent too much time feeling guilty. Don’t feel guilty, just change your behavior.” – Brittain Prigge
Brittain Prigge: I don’t believe in a work-life balance, instead, I believe in a work-life presence. It’s crucial to be present wherever you are. Looking back, I often put work first and was not present with my family. This is something I regret. I distinctly remember one day when I picked up my 14-year-old from school. He was in the car one minute and said, “I can tell you just had a bad call.” I found out later that same child was struggling with anxiety at the time. He needed his mom, but I wasn’t always living in the present. It’s hard to forgive yourself for that, but maybe I can help others avoid making the same mistakes.
Lastly, be a voracious reader. Curiosity is one of the greatest traits in the Wealth Management industry.
What are some of the benefits you have seen to having a robust female talent pool at your firm?
Erica Farber: We have so many women at Balentine who are dedicated to helping each other. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve watched Brittain in a meeting, and then afterwards I’ll go up to her and say, “Tell me how you did that.” or “Can you please explain to me how this works?” There’s little advice that comes from women at Balentine that doesn’t also apply to every other aspect of my life. The career product is just the benefit. It’s a bonus, but it’s always so much more than that.
“I’ve witnessed women redefine what success looks like. There are so many women at Balentine coming in and proving that success can come in many forms, across many different departments. They want to prove to themselves that they can do something, rather than just prove something to others. It’s an exciting time to be a woman.” – Erica Farber
Jennifer Dangar: It’s imperative to have diverse voices within the workplace. I value perspectives across the board from men, women, people of color, variety of age ranges, and backgrounds. Hearing diverse perspectives leads to great ideas and allows us to deepen our understanding and empathy. Women tend to be great multitaskers and problem solvers, which I find incredibly valuable. As a working mom, I’m always eager to help others learn from experiences and encourage them to not be too hard on themselves
What is one of your favorite books that has made an impact on your life and career?
Brittain Prigge: “A Short Guide to a Happy Life” by Anna Quindlen. It’s a treasure of a book – I keep it beside my bed and in my office. It has taught me how to live deeply every day. More specifically, it’s taught me not to ever confuse life and work. The second is only part of the first. You are the only person who has sole custody of your entire life. Not just your life at the desk, or in the car, or of your mind, or your bank account — but the life of your heart and soul. It’s helped me see what brings happiness and joy to myself and others – and that’s priceless.
Jennifer Dangar: “Atlas Shrugged” by Ayn Rand had a profound effect on me. The philosophy of objectivism is still as relevant today as it was when I read this book fresh out of college.
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