Business

How Jana Etheridge built a career in male-dominated workplaces

Jana Etheridge, Managing VP, Chief of Staff and Customer Office, Financial Services, Capital One in Plano, is as impressive as her long title.

Jana Etheridge, Capital One, Plano

Jana Etheridge grew up in Oklahoma City dreaming of being an orthodontist. Despite the headgear, she loved having braces and planned from an early age to attend dental school. It wasn’t until she took a biology class during her freshman year of college at Southwestern Oklahoma State University that she realized the medical field might not be for her—always a bright student, Jana received her first-ever “C” in the biology lab and quickly changed her major to accounting.

Jana went on to obtain her MBA from Oklahoma City University and worked for the financial planning company her parents used. Over the course of 12 years and a move to Minneapolis, she rounded out her advisor experience before deciding she was not cut out for Minnesota winters and headed to Dallas to be closer to family. In 2006, Jana landed a role with Capital One’s Retail Bank division. During her time with the company, Jana has led a horizontal support team, been an HR consultant and is now the managing vice president, chief of staff for Capital One’s Financial Services division.

At Capital One, Jana is responsible for the divisional Customer Office, which provides customer experience analysis and insights, external and internal strategic partnerships, communications and public relations, events, community outreach for the South-Central region, and two targeted operating teams that support customers. She also leads Capital One’s business resource group EmpowHER for the South-Central region, which is a program that gives women the opportunity to leverage each other’s strengths and diverse experiences to inspire their careers and lives.

Jana feels that female representation in all fields is critical to the success and viability of any organization, and that a diverse workforce is imperative to drive the best thinking, the best problem solving and the best results—an opinion she has formed after working in male-dominated industries where being one of a handful of females was simply the norm; in college, she worked as a supervisor at an automotive store, and Jana was one of only four female financial advisors in a class of 25 at the financial planning company. She’s found that in each job, her unique perspective as a woman added value to her work. Now, Jana loves empowering fellow women in business to be confident, bold and unapologetically themselves so they can do the same.

“You must be true to who you are to maximize the value you add.”

Jana is also one of the featured speakers at Plano Profile’s 17th annual Women in Business Summit on Friday, September 28 at the Hilton Dallas/Plano Granite Park Hotel. Click here for tickets. 

Here Jana reveals how she’s built a career in male-dominated work places.

What inspired your career path?
Growing up, my parents, who both worked outside of the home, were very open about their financial goals for saving money to pay for my college education and to retire at the age of 55. They worked closely with a financial advisor over many years to achieve their goals, and that model was very intriguing to me. I ended up working for the same financial planning company where my parents were clients right after college. I loved the experience and the opportunity to help young “achievers” in their 20s and 30s and those heading into retirement, many of whom were women, succeed.

What obstacles have you faced? How did you overcome them?
Most obstacles I have faced in my career have been created by my own self-doubt and internal negative chatter, not any external force. A few years ago, I really leaned into taming the chatter and it has been incredibly helpful. I reframe self-doubt into thoughts about why I am uniquely suited to take on a big challenge and learn something new. Flipping the chatter into a positive, while acknowledging I may need to develop new skills to tackle the thing in front of me, has been liberating.

“I reframe self-doubt into thoughts about why I am uniquely suited to take on a big challenge and learn something new.”

Tell me about a time when you failed. What did you learn from the experience?
My husband and I built an amazing coffee and wine bar franchise prototype from the ground up. We had an air-tight business plan, purchased the land, built the building, created every recipe, selected the coffee roaster, personally managed the marketing and created buttoned-up operations processes. No one, including our best customers, thought we would fail; but after three hard years, and personal and financial sacrifices, we had to close the doors.

I learned two things. First, I learned the importance of running a business in a well-managed, repeatable way. If we hadn’t had strong processes in place, which were loved by our customers, it would have been that much more difficult. Second, I learned the value of staying objective and failing fast. Had we been more objective and acknowledged the failure sooner, it would have still been difficult, but it would have allowed a faster resolution. I’ve been able to apply that mindset at Capital One, where agility is highly valued because it allows us to innovate and better serve our customers.

What does leadership mean to you? How are you an effective leader?
Leadership means many things to me. Leaders create and declare a vision, support each of their associates and inspire their team to accomplish more than they thought possible. A leader must openly support their team through failures and must elevate their successes. Finally, a leader has a responsibility to praise great work and provide coaching often.

“A leader must openly support their team through failures and must elevate their successes.”

A large part of my effectiveness as a leader is my caring nature and authenticity. My team is deeply important to me and the best way I know how to support them is to be myself, listen well and show that I care.

What role does diversity play in corporate America? What needs to change? What are you/your company doing to facilitate this change and how can others follow suit?
Fostering a diverse and inclusive environment where employees can bring their whole self to work, where they feel “at home” and where they can openly express their thoughts and ideas is critical to a company’s success. A truly diverse workforce that reflects the world around us will foster better brainstorming, better solutions, and ultimately, better products and services for the customer.

“A truly diverse workforce fosters better brainstorming, better solutions, and ultimately, better products and services for the customer.”

I’m fortunate and proud of the examples of diversity I experience professionally at Capital One. At Capital One, our associates are understood, valued and respected for their unique backgrounds, experiences, passions and perspectives. We know that to reimagine money – to infuse ingenuity, simplicity and humanity into banking – we must harness the power of our collective wisdom.

We achieve that through diverse talent acquisition, and actively invest in our seven associate business resource groups: Origins (Asian), Voices (Black), ¡HOLA! (Hispanic), Out Front (LGBTQ), Capabilities (People with Disabilities), empowHER (Women), and Salute (Military). Capital One also offers a host of resource and connection groups that are driven by associates including Adoption Connection, Autism Spectrum Connection, Parent Connection and Virtual Team Connection. We also have a diversity and inclusion advisory board and line of business diversity councils that advance our culture of inclusion. Additionally, we offer many training materials, career development programs and community outreach initiatives to ensure our inclusion efforts take root and thrive at Capital One.

How do you achieve work/life balance? What tips do you have for fellow women in business struggling in this area?
You must take care of yourself first, and then work your career around your non-negotiables. For me, those include working out, date night and not taking my laptop home during the week.

“We must stay in tune with what is needed to take care of ourselves, no matter what.”

I feel that work/life “balance” is rarely achievable. We all go through seasons in life that require more from us professionally or personally, and what is most important is that we are conscious of those demands and make different choices if necessary given the stage of life we are in. We must stay in tune with what is needed to take care of ourselves, no matter what.

Join us at Plano Profile’s 17th annual Women in Business Summit to hear more from Jana! Click here for tickets. 


Plano Profile’s 17th annual Women in Business Summit


Learn how North Texas’ Wonder Women have been a driving force in their industries and what it takes to go above and beyond what is expected.

Bringing together over 400 of the most respected women from global enterprises, non-profits, government and SMB businesses of the North Texas community—Plano Profile’s Women in Business conference celebrates, unites and empowers DFW’s leading ladies.

This one-of-a-kind learning and business event features special guest speakers, panel discussions and ample networking opportunities. This is your chance to learn from the best and share your best.

It’s time to play a bigger game.

MEET OUR SPEAKERS

Merrilee Kick, CEO/Founder of BuzzBallz/Southern Champion
Jana Etheridge, Managing VP, Chief of Staff and Customer Office, Financial Services, Capital One
Myrna Estrada, Vice President and Regional General Manager for Safeco Insurance
Dana Beckman, Director of Corporate Affairs at Alliance Data
Maxie McCoy, author and writer obsessed with giving women the tools they need to believe in themselves
Lauren Przybyl, Fox 4 Good Day Anchor
Jasmin Brand, CEO of Launch DFW and President at Darby James

EVENT AGENDA

10:30 am – 11:30 am Registration and Networking

11:30 am – 4:00 pm

  • Keynote Speaker
  • Lunch
  • Networking / Break-out Sessions
  • Panel Discussion
  • Networking / Break-out Sessions

4:00 pm – 6:00 pm Cocktail Party

TICKETS:

Individual, $125 
Table of 8, $750

While the event proudly celebrates the progress and success of women in business, gentlemen are welcome to attend and learn from our powerful female leaders.

Rebecca Silvestri
Executive Editor
Rebecca Silvestri is the executive editor at Plano Profile. She is also the wife of Philip Silvestri, Publisher of Plano Profile.

In a previous life, Rebecca was a math teacher (in London and the Dominican Republic).

Philip and Rebecca have a little boy named Theo and are expecting a baby girl this July.

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