This month we sat down with incoming Board President, Stefanie Crowe, to discuss her career and hopes for CWLI in 2017. After meeting with her, we felt we could rule the world. Once you read about her career and drive for women to achieve financial independence, you’ll feel you can rule the world, too.
By Erin Wooddell
Stefanie Crowe has recently entered a new relationship. She took her time, did her research, tested the waters, and finally made the commitment to give it a try. That relationship is with Stonebridge Asset Management.
As a longtime wealth and financial professional, Stefanie left her corporate position as a chief strategist officer in search of more client-facing work. Working with Stonebridge Asset Management gives her the opportunity to get back to her roots, advising and managing financial accounts to help individuals reach their financial goals.
Stefanie has always had an entrepreneurial spirit, but didn’t want to take on the responsibility of starting her own firm by herself. As part of this team, the foundation is laid for success, with the other partners harboring deep analytical experience in institutional investments. Stefanie’s client advisory role focuses on company growth, markets, strategy, and community outreach.
“It’s hard to be able to grow a company while also running it. This is the best of both worlds. We invest our own capital as entrepreneurs, and the way the team shares values, vision, and appreciates differences, we can enhance what we do,” Stefanie says.
This decision wasn’t easy. She’d been in a position with strategic influence and financial stability, but deep down she sensed she had a higher calling to monetize her value in other ways. She had other passions and interests that didn’t align with her day-to-day job. Once she had a ‘now or never moment,’ to either move forward and explore or be left wondering and afraid, she knew she had to make a change. Her husband was understanding and supportive, pushing her to follow her dreams.
Balancing Passion and Financial Independence
Stefanie likes to ask questions, has a lot of energy and ideas, and wants to focus on expansions and improvement—no matter where she works.
“We joke that I’m hard to manage. It takes a special person to embrace my energy. And this team affirmed they were looking for a woman who was hard to manage,” she laughs.
Leaving her corporate position gave her the time and freedom to find a place that valued her strengths and she could approach her job search in a calculated way, so that her choice involved more than the financial bottom line. This is a philosophy she lives her life by. Feeling engaged, using your full skills and potential, being challenged, and ensuring where you work fits with your life is just as important as a paycheck, she says.
Stefanie has a passion for advising women on finances, and she encourages them to embrace money. She often notices a stigma that pigeonholes women as being selfish for having and earning money, and it’s a stigma she wants to break. With financial independence, women are more in control of their career trajectory and they’re able to contribute more to their communities and causes.
“If you’re dependent financially, it limits your options and choices. By making your money work for you while you’re young, you’re better able to make the world a better place,” she says. “When women accrue capital, they’re so generous. Take care of your own wealth first, because then you can care for others and give back. Money can give you a position of power to effect positive change.”
In support of this, she offers up an example of a conversation she had with her daughters. While she was in-between positions, her daughters joked that she needed to go back to work to make money. She simply replied, “I’m making money pouring your orange juice, thanks to interest, dividends, and capital gains.” They were surprised and curious about that, providing Stefanie the opportunity to begin instructing them on how to make the most of their money.
While financial independence can make unknowns in career and life a little less daunting, Stefanie says it’s not all about that. Having purpose and meaning is also crucial, otherwise women tend to burn out. That happened to her mid-career. While she was making good money, she was burning out trying to meet the pressure to perform. Now at Stonebridge, she’s the Director of Wealth Knowledge and Happiness.
“Happiness is important,” she says. “Before, I wasn’t taking care of the happy factor.”
Becoming Board President
Being chosen as CWLI’s 2017 Board President was an unexpected honor and privilege, Stefanie says. A good friend of hers was teed up for the role, but was unable to accept the duty. When the executive committee asked Stefanie, she couldn’t wait to get started. With her new job change freeing up her schedule, she’ll have more time in town and is looking forward to working with the board to reboot old programs and create new ones.
As a longtime member of CWLI who’s been on many committees and the board, Stefanie has seen what has and hasn’t worked within the community.
“With Holly at the helm, we’re discovering answers to questions the board’s been asking for years. She’s embracing our mission—especially the idea of supporting companies to establish leadership development efforts for women.”
In the new year, Stefanie looks forward to moving the broad network of individual members into a position as a trusted community resource for developing female leaders. She believes CWLI has what businesses need to understand the economic and performance value of female leadership.
“Gender diversity is just smart business, and we have the power to really showcase the importance and value of that,” she says.
Check out Stefanie’s member spotlight Q&A!