We only have a few more Women in Business spotlights left on the schedule this year, and I have to admit I will be a little sad to see them end. Today’s honoree has a contagious smile and a warmth of character that draws people to her. Not a description you might expect from someone who’s claim to fame here at StorageMart is efficiency. Here’s what Ryan McKenzie, CFO, has to say about our Director of Accounting/Controller, Stephanie Norris: Stephanie is a relative new-comer to StorageMart, having been hired in August 2019. She manages 13 employees between the accounting and accounts payable departments.
She brings to StorageMart many years of experience in accounting/finance as well as a knack for mentoring and developing her employees. Since her hire just over a year ago, the month-end close has been cut from 30+ days down to just 20 days through improved process efficiency and alignment. Stephanie was an integral part of the team that recently brought automation to our once manual and paper-heavy accounts payable process. Her outgoing nature and positive disposition have been a welcome addition to the team. We are excited to have Stephanie on the team and look forward to her contributions in the years to come.
What do you do at StorageMart? I’m the Director of Accounting/Controller. They couldn’t decide on my title when I started working here so Lise gave me both. I oversee Accounting and AP. I am responsible for the month-end closing and preparation of the consolidated financial statements. I also work with the Regional Managers when they have questions regarding their P&Ls. The majority of my time is actually spent reviewing the work of others.
How long have you been at StorageMart? I just celebrated my one year in August. Woo HOOO!
Is there a particular turning point in your professional experience that really helped define your career path? My career path hasn’t been a straight line. Different jobs filling the way. Since graduating college the first time, I’ve managed restaurants, worked AP at a Welding/Gas supplier, been a bank manager, worked in public accounting, been CFO of a school district, and sold health insurance to large employers (among other things).
It seems like at every turn, there has been a definite driver in my decision: job market, husband changing duty stations and we had to move, earning my second degree, wanting to spend more time with family. They have all seemed to revolve around my situation at the time; however, the turning point in my decision to become an accountant came when I was working as a bank manager while my husband was stationed in New Orleans. I had to take a continuing education course and I chose accounting. It reminded me how much I enjoyed it and I decided that I wanted to go back to school and get my accounting degree.
Who have you turned to for inspiration throughout your career? There have been many people along the path that have been inspirational for me (I have a couple of ex-bosses who are still mentors), but I think what molded me to have the work ethic and strong female character that I have is from watching the women in my family. My grandmother was a widow and opened her own successful restaurant at the age of 48 and my mother graduated the MU RN program Suma Cum Laude a semester early because people told her she was just a small-town hick who would never finish. She continued to have a successful career and raised a family and was a wonderful mother and nurse. These are the women that have molded me to who I am today.
What are some qualities of strong leadership that are often overlooked? One of my favorite quotes from Eleanor Roosevelt is: “It is not fair to ask of others what you are not willing to do yourself.” I have always tried to adhere to that as a leader. I don’t think that industry leaders in our society today think about that when they make demands on their workers.
That is an area that I believe StorageMart excels in. I believe that every one of the leaders we have would gladly work side-by-side with one of their team members and help them with whatever they needed.
Based on your experience, what is one thing managers or execs could do better to support and encourage women in the workplace? I’m a firm believer in equity meaning not being treated differently; therefore, treat me the same as you would a man. I don’t need to be supported or encouraged any more or less than any man would.
Tell us a bit about what you do when you aren’t busy being a rock star at work. I’m wife to Bobby and Mom to two boys, Adam (21) and Christopher (18). We love taking Adam, his girlfriend, and Christopher places and spending time with them – anything from dinner to day trips to weekend getaways. Bobby and I love to travel and seeing and experiencing new places and things when we get the time. I sit on the board of the Arthur Center in Mexico, which I am very passionate about. When at home, I like to knit/crochet and watch action movies and football.