Managing Director, Public Finance
Five Years with Baird
For decades, women have been building rewarding careers at Baird, with no limits on their ability to advance in the organization. In this series, some of our most successful women talk about how Baird has helped their careers and talents to flourish.
Here, Jan Bartholomew, a Managing Director for public finance in Houston, discusses the importance of having a mentor and how Baird’s values brought her into the firm.
Why did you choose a career in financial services?
Here’s my story: In 1977, I moved to Houston and joined a brokerage firm called Underwood Neuhaus as a secretary, after two years of college. I loved finance and excelled in it, but back then there were few if any women in our industry. My job involved typing all the preliminary official statements prepared for the public offering of municipal bonds. I was fascinated by the business and began to work toward a career in the area of Special District financings.
Underwood Neuhaus had a Special District practice, and we were one of the leaders in that small industry. There were a handful of Special Districts in Houston back then, and when the oil boom came, the city began to develop overnight. Special Districts were used to finance the infrastructure for all the development in the surrounding Houston area. In the 1980s, when the oil bust hit, everything came to a halt because Houston was not diversified in any other industry. I was a young banker by then, and survival was the name of the game. Eventually, the Special District business took off again, and today there are more than 900 businesses in Houston Metropolitan area. After my boss retired, I started building my own book of business.
Why did you choose to do what you do at Baird?
Paul Purcell and Keith Kolb were very important to that decision. Our team needed a firm that was respectful and supportive of our middle market business, and that had the same value system as we do. Before Baird I was at a Wall Street firm, and the integrity and values that we manage our business with is important to us. There is a huge contrast between a manager in New York and the managers I have worked with at Baird.
Baird is also highly supportive of women, and anything I can do to help mentor women – and men – as well is important to me. I did not have a mentor when I was building my book, and feel it is important to individuals building their careers, and especially to women who are the minority in this area.
What is your favorite part of your job?
I enjoy being a mentor to the entire team. Many of our projects can last 30 or 40 years, so if we do this right, their career is pretty much set up for them. I also enjoy continuing to build the business by being the best at what we can be. We are different from our competitors because we feel we go the extra mile for our clients.
What’s the best advice you’ve ever gotten and who gave it to you?
When I was first working as an administrative assistant and learning to be a banker, the Special District industry came to a screeching halt. I continued to work closely with my manager at the time but very uncertain where the future of this business would go. “Just stick with it,” he’d tell me when times got tough. “Someday it’s going to be a good and productive business, and it’s not going to go away.” The long-term prognosis for Special District business has certainly borne that out.
How do you like to spend your time outside the office?
I got married nine years ago, and we love to travel and play golf and ski, especially in Park City, Utah. We’ve been all over the world, even on an African safari - the more adventure, the better,
Tell me something about you that has surprised people.
Twenty years ago, other than skiing, I did not travel very much or play golf. I spent most of time working. Nowadays, I do not work like I used to when I was on my own and building my own book of business. The world has changed, and thankfully, there is much more balance between work and home.