Leading Women at Stout: Ann Miller, Kim Randolph, and Stacy Carron
Leading Women at Stout: Ann Miller, Kim Randolph, and Stacy Carron
At Stout, our professionals are the foundation of our ability to deliver excellent results to our clients. Here, we highlight three leading women at our company who are making that possible:
- Ann Miller, Managing Director and Co-Head of the Special Situations practice
- Kim Randolph, Managing Director, Valuation Advisory
- Stacy Carron, Chief Information Officer
They reflect on the growth of their careers, obstacles they have needed to overcome to be successful, and recommended steps to creating a gender-inclusive company culture. See other leading women at Stout.
Tell us about your career path. How did you get to where you are today?
Miller: I always like to say that life is a marathon and not a sprint and that life sometimes takes you where you need to be in non-linear ways. This could not be illustrated more accurately than in my own career path and progression. And because of this, I like to tell those starting out their careers to listen to their instincts and have confidence in themselves, but, more importantly, to work hard.
I changed my major as an undergraduate from engineering to actuarial science before finding my true passion in economics and finance. Likewise, after graduating from business school, I held positions in consulting prior to switching over to investment banking. Despite all this change, one thing was always constant: I always worked hard, and still do, at everything I do.
Whether it was school or work, I always volunteered to do the tough jobs. And believe me, I worked hard. I put in the extra time. I gave it my all in everything I did. People noticed. They invited me to join their team. More opportunities followed.
Randolph: Throughout my career, I've always tried to do my best, continually educate myself, and give 100% at whatever it is I'm working on. Commitment and hard work are values that my parents instilled in me at an early age, and they are really the largest factors that have contributed to success in my career.
Carron: A combination of always wanting to make things better\more efficient and not accepting "no" or "that's not possible" as an answer.
What does your current role at Stout entail? What are some of your favorite parts about the job?
Miller: As a co-head of a practice area, I am responsible for business generation and execution, among other various administrative duties. As an investment banker, I am responsible for getting the best outcome for my client. Although I love numbers and work with numbers every day, I equally love people and interacting in a team environment. I love finding solutions to tough problems, and as I work in financial restructuring, there is never a shortage of problems. I truly enjoy helping companies navigate through one of the most difficult periods that they may ever face in their business life cycle. Helping people while doing something I enjoy is beyond rewarding.
Randolph: I serve as a Managing Director in the Valuation Advisory Group and the New York Office Leader. I'm responsible for overseeing the execution of a variety of different types of valuation work. Every project is different and presents different and unique challenges.
Carron: I am responsible for all of Stout's information and technology. Some of my favorite things include playing with new technology, optimization, and working with the IT team (they are quite funny and genuinely great people).
What was a challenge you faced in your own career growth? How did you overcome it?
Miller: I think any woman in my age bracket has experienced discrimination in some form. I am no exception. I won't elaborate on discrimination, but I do think it is important for women to persevere no matter what the circumstance and not let any unfortunate circumstance hold them back. Learn from it. Grow. And work hard to make sure that it never happens again.
Equally challenging and hard to admit is that there have been plenty times in my life where I did not accept the challenge. At the most basic level, I guess you can say that I did not believe in myself. I overcame that hurdle by surrounding myself with a network of highly motivated and successful women and men. You may be surprised to learn that almost everyone I met has admitted that they too doubted themselves at some point in their career.
Randolph: Early on in my career, there were times that I felt I was put in a position that I was unqualified for. Looking back on those instances, I think they helped me in the long run because they gave me confidence and a level of maturity that might have taken longer to develop. These situations helped me step outside my comfort zone.
Carron: We don't grow without challenges , thankfully, I've had many.
First, when I started out, I didn't have mentors in the technology space given how small the firm was. Seeking resources and mentors outside of the firm really helped me overcome this and chart my own path.
Second, 18 years ago, I had my first daughter; this was before maternity/paternity leaves were formalized. Reduced schedules and work-your-way didn't exist. I knew I couldn't commit to a 50+ hours a week work schedule. I had an honest conversation with my manager at the time, shared my concerns, offered to quit or find alternative solutions, and ended up with a reduced work schedule as I returned to work that allowed me the opportunity to deliver on what was needed in the office and at home.
What role do you play in helping to increase the number of women in senior leadership roles?
Miller: I strongly think the most important thing that any women in any leadership role must do is to lead by example. Hence, I actively strive to be a role model worthy of emulating. Secondly, and more practically, I ensure that the firm is recruiting, promoting, and retaining women, as an organization cannot develop women leaders if there are no women at all levels of the organization. Thirdly and equally important, I make sure that I am referring work to women. In most professional careers, without business generation, women will find it harder to make it to the next level.
Randolph: I've always been a firm believer in supporting those who do their job well, regardless of gender. I look to identify people who have potential to grow and give them the opportunities to do so.
Carron: I think I play the same role everyone does: being supportive and inclusive to those (men or women) in really any role.
What role have you played in advancing Stout's diversity, equity, and inclusion (DE&I) efforts?
Miller: Throughout my career before there was much thought about inclusion, I have always made it a priority to make sure there are women being interviewed, and I have equally advocated for all minorities. Equally importantly, I make sure that bias (intentional or not) is not happening throughout the interview process. I believe that things have vastly improved since I started my career in 1991, but more work can be and should be done.
I am proud to work at Stout, which has made DE&I a fundamental pillar of its business. As part of this diversity and inclusion initiative, Stout has a wonderful scholarship program available for female and minority students who are sophomores in college studying business. I have volunteered my time and sit on the selection committee. I am very excited to interview the next generation.
Outside of work, I am getting involved with the University of Chicago's initiative to expand diversity in economics. This is such a worthwhile initiative, which will hopefully help bring broader perspectives into public policy as well as broaden the pool of candidates within the realm of finance.
Randolph: I help to ensure that we have an infrastructure that supports flexibility and diversity for everyone.
Carron: Outside of those organizing and leading charges in the DE&I space, I feel we all play the same role: we need to be supportive and inclusive.
What advice would you give to young women beginning their own career climbs in the finance industry?
Miller: Simple rules. Do what you love. Don't let anyone tell you that you are not good enough. Don't let any setback or a flat-out "no" discourage you. Do find a champion, whether male or female, that listens to you and that has your back. Do work hard at tasks but work even harder at finding your true passion as if you love what you do and work won't be work.
Randolph: Work hard and don't be afraid to step out of your comfort zone.
Carron: The advice would be the same regardless of gender and is like what I tell my kids, don't be afraid to make a mistake (it's how we learn), always do the right thing (would you be uncomfortable if your mom knew; if yes, don't do it), and don't wait for the opportunity (seek it, you are entitled to nothing).
What can employees, regardless of their role, do to promote the success of women and the development of a gender-diverse culture?
Miller: Never underestimate a woman and don't give a woman special privilege just because she is a woman, as that simple action creates a negative perception. Treat a female like a male with respect to workload and, more importantly, with pay. When it comes to work-life balance, do recognize that there are some life events that need to be properly handled, but do it in such a way that it levels the playing field. For example, firms should provide both maternity and paternity leave. Recognize both.
Don't assume a woman got the job just because they are a woman; don't underestimate them. Treat them like you do your male counterparts with respect to workload and provide equal opportunity.
When it comes to those in leadership roles, I believe there is greater responsibility. People tend to emulate people, especially in leadership roles. Your actions speak louder than words. Recruit and promote women and make sure you are doing what it takes to keep them at the company. So often in investment banking, we lose women as they make the leap from associate to vice president. Research why this happens and give the proper guidance and support to every employee (male or female) to make sure they are successful.
Randolph: Treat them like you want to be treated. But I also don't think this is unique to women, it applies to everyone.
Carron: I don't think women need something different; everyone just needs to be heard and given the opportunity to share ideas and make an impact. Regardless of role/gender, we promote diverse culture by seeking opposing opinions and viewpoints. Don't be afraid to have your opinions challenged and seek out those who approach things differently.