Stephanie Foster launched a stellar career in financial technology two decades ago. Stephanie is currently the Chief Administrative Officer at XY Planning Network. She has successfully led product commercialization internationally and within the US at Fortune 500 organizations. As part of her commitment to strengthening diversity and inclusion in FinTech, Stephanie helped found Women Driving Innovation in Atlanta with the mission to connect, inspire and showcase the next generation of female thought leaders in tech. She also serves as a member of the Women’s Network in Electronic Transactions’ (Wnet) Advisory Board.
We caught up with Stephanie to learn more about HerStory:
When did you know that you wanted to work in finance? Ever since I was 4 years old, I always knew that I wanted to work in a tall glass building, wear a suit every day, and sit at the head of a boardroom. This motivated me to join the Future Business Leaders of America in high school, which led to an Inroads internship at 17 years of age. I got to present in a boardroom before I took my first college course. Faith and luck led to me Payments and Fintech and 20 years later I am now a Wealth Management and Financial Planning Executive.
Who is a role model that you look up to? My all time role model is my mother. She came to this country with nothing and worked hard to build a good life for our family. She is my biggest inspiration and has always been my biggest cheerleader from kindergarten to the woman I am today. She taught me that God and family always come first, be honest, and have a good work ethic.
What is a struggle that you’ve faced and how did you handle it? As with any working mom, mom guilt has always been a struggle for me. I finally came to the realization that I cannot have it all (as much as I want to). I once read an article that really opened my eyes, the author stated that work / life balance is a myth; it’s really all about prioritization. There are days I prioritize my daughter’s soccer game and there are days I prioritize a work-related event or business trip. This perspective was extremely helpful in my daily approach to being a mom and a business leader.
What is something that you are immensely proud of? I am immensely proud of being a founding member of Women Driving Innovation, a group that connects, empowers and showcases female thought leaders in technology. I love the fact that we have provided a platform to elevate female voices in a male dominated industry. Many phenomenal women have had the opportunity to grow their personal and professional brand, expand their network and build their business thanks to this amazing organization.
What qualities make a great leader? There are many qualities that make a great leader. In my opinion, empathy, decisiveness and courage are the top three that drive me as a leader. Being able to put myself in the shoes of others, the agility to make decisions quickly when needed, and having the courage to be fearless throughout my career have definitely served me well.
What do you believe will be the biggest challenge for the next generation of leaders? I am actually very hopeful for the next generation of leaders. They have grit, they would have lived through a pandemic, witnessed and experienced rapid innovation in payments, healthcare, communication, education and entertainment.
If you could try another job for a day, what would it be? My fantasy job is to be Anna Wintour, Vogue Editor for a day. I have always loved fashion, glamour and everything that comes with it. I can see myself reviewing the latest issue layout, orchestrating a photo shoot, attending a fashion show and hobnobbing with famous designers all in the same day.
If you could give your 18-year-old self a piece of advice, what would it be? If I had the power to go back in time, I would tell my 18 year old self to negotiate my compensation every time I got promoted, and then ask for more. I was always told I had to negotiate but I never knew how, nor did I have the courage to actually follow-through. It pains me to admit this but now this is the first thing I coach young women on. Negotiate, negotiate, negotiate! As my friend Velera Wilson says, “You Are Absolutely Worth It!”
Favorite book? Too many to count! My current favorite is No Rules Rules, Netflix and the Culture of Reinvention by Reed Hastings and Erin Meyer.
Where can we find you on your day off? On my day off I am either hiking with my husband and two kids making memories or practicing self-care by binge watching The Real Housewives or hosting a ladies’ champagne brunch.
Connect with Stephanie online at https://twitter.com/stephfoster2020
Marsha Guerrier is a bestselling author, speaker, trainer, business analyst, business coach, and CEO of HerSuiteSpot®, a MWBE and SBE certified small business consulting and coaching agency that provides online and in-person support to early stage female founders looking to accelerate their business.