One of the greatest things about Momentum is the powerful alumnae network. Periodically we interview these amazing women about their experience in our program.
Jenifer Goforth Kimbrough serves as Chief Financial Officer at Oakworth Capital Bank. She has over 20 years of financial services experience which includes serving banking, broker/dealer and insurance clients with Ernst & Young, serving as the director of investor relations at Regions Financial Corporation, and serving on the Board of Directors and as chair of the Audit Committee for a publicly traded property/casualty insurance company. Jenifer graduated from the University of Alabama in 1993 with a Bachelor of Science in Commerce and Business Administration, receiving her CPA certificate soon after.
Additionally, Jenifer has served as the national president of the American Woman’s Society of CPAs and on the AICPA’s Women’s Initiatives Executive Committee. She has served in numerous community volunteer leadership positions including on the Boards of the Junior League of Birmingham, the Mountain Brook PTO Council, and the Ranger PTO. She teaches Sunday School at Canterbury United Methodist Church and is active with her alma mater, currently serving on The University of Alabama’s Accounting Advisory Board and as a Culverhouse Connections mentor for young women in accounting. Jenifer completed Momentum’s executive leadership program as part of Class Four in 2006.
What did you gain from your MOMENTUM experience?
More than anything, Momentum gave me a fantastic network of friends and leaders. That includes members of my own Momentum class as well as other Momentum alumnae. When you learn that someone that you’ve never met before is a Momentum alumna, there is an instant connection and familiarity between the two of you – I love that! I also learned to breathe…we have to take time to reflect and recharge.
What is one piece of leadership advice you have been given that has helped you in your career?
Years ago I worked for a partner at Ernst & Young who I respected immensely, and who counseled me to “paddle your own canoe.” Don’t worry about anybody else, what opportunities or accolades or financial benefit they may have been given that you weren’t. Just worry about you and doing the absolute best you can do every day and in every situation. The rest will take care of itself.
What challenges do you think the next generation of women leaders face?
The next generation of women leaders will face a lot of the same challenges we face today! That said, they will need to figure out what success really means to them (as opposed to someone else’s definition) and then how to go about making it happen. The pace of change today, driven mainly by technology, is incredible. It will require more vision and creativity than ever before to play within a new and ever-changing set of rules in order to stay in front of that change as opposed to trying to fit an existing product or service or idea into a much different paradigm.
If you knew then what you know now, what would you tell your 18 year old self?
I would say so much! Here are a few things: One, to learn as much as I could about what people do and how they do it by asking lots of questions. Two, to take that knowledge and recognize that I have the opportunity to create my own unique reality over time. Three, to really appreciate that every human being has something unique and special to offer no matter what package they come wrapped in.
What three words do you think should characterize every leader?
Integrity, Empathy, Visionary
How do you find balance in your career, home, and community life?
For me, the pursuit of career, home, community balance starts with the big picture of knowing what is really important to me in all of the aspects of my life. From there I make sure all decisions, big and small, are consistent with those priorities.
Is there a book that has been helpful to you in your career? If so, please share the title and author.
The book I always seem to come back to is Stephen Covey’s Seven Habits of Highly Successful People. It’s a simple, common sense approach that applies to every endeavor.
Is there anything else you would like to share? Advice you would like to give women in leadership?
Things I’ve been taught from those I was fortunate enough to be “brought along” by….
- do your best to be your authentic self as you lead
- remind yourself what it’s like to be led
- make sure you’d be willing to do anything you ask someone else to do
- always have someone (or “someones”) you’re bringing along behind you