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Women Leaders - Danielle Bateman Girondo, Chief Marketing Officer, Midwest BankCentre

by Jennifer Bardot and Marianne Biangardi

When you began your career did you ever imagine you would have a leadership role lke you have now? What advice would you give your younger self? 
I always felt a pull towards leadership, though I thought that my path would be much more linear than the many twists and turns that it has taken. I’ve always enjoyed solving hard problems. Being a leader allows you to help others leverage their special and unique talents to help solve those hard problems.

The common thread throughout my career is that I work with companies at transition points to help them scale for growth. I’ve worked across five different industries and in multiple functional areas – from finance to operations to strategy and marketing. This includes working on mergers, acquisitions, leveraged buy-outs, start-ups and turn-arounds. The common denominator? There are really hard problems to solve, and you need to surround yourself with smart people who are willing to come together as a team, contributing their unique talents, to solve those hard problems.

I would give my younger self the following advice:

- Profits Solve A Lot of Problems: when you are growing profits, you generally have the resources you need to overcome obstacles and there is generally confidence in leadership, which allows you to make bolder moves. Stay in the profit centers and show how you directly impact profitability.

- A Rising Tide Lifts All Boats: when a company is growing quickly, internal opportunities abound - there’s almost always a new project or a new venture. If you are ambitious, you can chart your own course.

- It’s A Marathon, Not a Sprint: this one took me a while to learn, but sustainable growth at a fast pace IS achievable. You don’t have to burn yourself out. Enjoy the peaks and breathe through the valleys. Life and careers are cyclical. You won’t always be on top and the valleys don’t last forever – so truly pause to celebrate and savor the good times and look for lessons to be learned during the hard times.

Who inspires you and why? What is your most valued attribute in the leaders you respect or mentors you have had? 

I’m inspired by people every day.

There are those leaders that I admire and respect because they are able to create a unified vision and rally people around that vision to move mountains – like my boss Orv Kimbrough. There have been a few leaders in my business life that can cast an audacious and seemingly impossible vision, get people to believe in it, and then figure out how to make it a reality. Orv is one of those leaders and it is truly awe-inspiring to watch in action.

I’m inspired by the incredible women in my life who make being good mom’s, wife’s and leaders all at the same time look easy – when it is anything but that. These include my incredible colleagues, the women in my family and friends, each of who I turn to advice and as sounding boards as I navigate the many hats I wear on any given day.

I’m inspired by the men in my life who have encouraged me to push my boundaries and have been my unequivocal cheerleaders – primarily my husband and my father. It takes an incredibly strong and confident man to raise, love and support ambitious and strong women – and these men both fit that bill.

What did it take in order to trust yourself to step into leadership?

I tried on various leadership roles in lower-risk environments throughout my life and career. From student council in school to serving in a leadership capacity in multiple volunteer roles, these experiences were formative. They helped me to learn how to lead, how to inspire, how to motivate — all without the responsibility of someone else’s livelihood. Because, make no mistake about it, leadership done right is an awesome responsibility. You are making decisions that impact the trajectory of the business, people’s careers and often their family’s well-being. It can be intimidating when you sit back and truly think about the impact that you have as a leader. To get comfortable, I always suggest people try on leadership roles in lower-risk environments. You are going to stumble – none of us learn without making a mistake occasionally – but you can learn from those mistakes and become a better leader before you assume more formal leadership roles.

What do you attribute your success too? Secret to your success? 

I’m not afraid to get in the arena and I’m not afraid to make mistakes. “Man in the Arena” by Theodore Roosevelt is my favorite speech of all time – and has often acted as a guidepost and inspiration for me. It speaks to how you will have successes and failures – these are inevitable. It also emphasizes the importance of action and striving towards worthy goals. To put yourself out there, to take a chance, to say “I’m going to do this really hard thing,” takes courage and gumption and knowing that making mistakes is going to be part of the process.

Being in the arena means that you aren’t going to get it right 100% of the time – you just have to learn how to not make mistakes that are lethal, and you have the obligation to learn from them.

What advice would you give other local women leaders?

Working hard isn’t the same as adding value. And you are going to need to do both to get ahead in your career. You can work really hard, but if you don’t have the ability to prioritize your efforts to drive top or bottom-line growth, you’re just being busy, not productive.

Also, stay in the profit centers. Being able to show how you directly impact profitability will almost always lead to more opportunities and higher compensation.

Join the GRIT Community:

Jennifer Bardot (, or
314-630-1451) is CEO and Founder of G.R.I.T. Community For Women.

Marianne Biangardi ( or 314-322-4871) is Sr. Associate, Marketing and Business Development, at UHY LLP.

Submitted 147 days ago
Categories: categoryWomen Leaders
Views: 600