In honor of Women’s History Month, it is important to acknowledge that gender diversity at the leadership level can drive advancement, productivity and financial success. This road to leadership is different for everyone. For B+Co’s Jennifer Ruth, Office Managing Partner in San Francisco, it meant being a team player who is focused and flexible. We asked Jennifer about her journey into leadership as a woman and how she developed along her own Path to Partner.
Tell us the story of you and how you decided on a career in accounting.
I started right out of high school as a receptionist for a CPA firm. Then when I was just starting college at Cal State East Bay, working for the firm guided me to focus on an accounting degree. I ended up staying with the same firm for about 18 years before joining B+Co.
How did education play a role in your career success?
Education was very important, but the “on the job training” and support from my coworkers and partners was and still is the best asset and most significant role in my career success.
Did you have a strategy for becoming a partner? If yes, what was it?
Not so much a strategy but just the way I try to approach my career. Work hard and always provide the best service possible for the clients I’m responsible for. Sometimes that means supporting clients through life events that may not directly relate to accounting or tax compliance. There have been more than a few tears shed with clients. I always try to keep in mind that it takes the whole team to make a great firm.
How do you tackle big challenges at work?
Piece by piece. I find it easier to break big tasks or challenges down into bite sized pieces. I also rely on the strengths of our team…not as in pushing work off but by recognizing strengths that others have that I may be lacking in.
There are some truly busy work months in accounting. What is it that drives or motivates you at work?
It’s a lot easier to get through the busy work months when you have a firm like we do that recognizes the need for balance and really does try to make that possible. It’s also very rewarding when you’ve spent a lot of time on a project and the client is appreciative of the work you do.
Are you able to find work/life balance? What are some things you enjoy outside of work that bring you that balance?
It’s hard but I do try to find time for myself. I’m not the type of person with a lot of hobbies but I love to read, watch baseball or go to games and of course, Facetiming with my kids/grandkids/mom/sister/niece whenever I can. I’ve got two big dogs who jump at the chance for a walk on the canal trail or a visit to our local duck pond.
Are there leaders or leadership traits that you admire?
I really admire a leader that can instill confidence and “keep order” and at the same time they aren’t vocal about “being the leader.” It’s a hard thing to do but when pulled off can be very beneficial to an organization.
What is your leadership style and how have those influences helped shape your style?
Good question…not sure I’ve ever thought about my “style.” I try to help guide others in deciding, without forcing my choice or opinion onto them. I really want others to feel comfortable coming to me with questions or just wanting to bounce ideas.
What kind of advice do you give other women who are entering the field? Are there challenges that you think women in the industry face specifically?
I think the challenges that women face entering the accounting field have changed over the years in a positive way. My advice would be the same for anyone entering the accounting field…work hard but try to find your balance early on. Don’t be afraid to speak up in a productive way and share your ideas, don’t assume that what you’re thinking has already been thought about. Never stop learning or being willing to change…our industry (and world) is ever changing and we need to be flexible.
What is life at Bregante + Company LLP like? What are the positives about your time with the company?
B+Co is an amazing place! From the time I started I have always felt supported and encouraged to succeed. It is so rewarding to be a firm that truly values every employee. It may be cliché, but it really does feel like a family.