By Arielle Windham Empowered by Ladyboss Lifestyle
Success isn’t always the result of some grand plan. Often, it is the result of hard work, perseverance, and playing to your strengths.
As a young woman studying finance at UND, Stephanie Barth never dreamed of becoming a chief accounting officer for one of the most significant employers and economic drivers in North Dakota. She probably couldn’t have told you what a controller does, much less how to balance this important position in one of the only publicly traded companies in the region. At 18, Barth didn’t have it all planned out, but by finding opportunities that aligned with her interests and pushing herself, she made a place for herself and other women in the C-suite of MDU Resources.
“The most important piece of advice I can give is to work hard and good things will follow.”
Numbers Game: Bismarck Woman Finds Success and Satisfaction in Finance
“I didn’t start with a career path in mind,” said Stephanie Barth, Vice President, Chief Account Officer and Controller for MDU Resources. “I didn’t even know what I wanted to study. I basically went down the list of majors and crossed off everything I knew I definitely didn’t want to do. I was left with economics and accounting and ended up choosing accounting. Turns out, I couldn’t have found a better fit.”
Barth’s love of numbers and problemsolving skills were an asset during her time at UND. It was hard work, but she continued to play to her strengths, seeking out opportunities that interested–and challenged–her. She started her career in public accounting and then she moved to corporate accounting, joining an MDU Resource subsidiary as a revenue billing analyst. The challenges and complexities of working with the company and its many subsidiaries often pushed Barth outside her comfort zone but looking back over nearly 30 years with the company, these moments were also some of the most satisfying.
“You learn to take advantage of what makes you uncomfortable,” Barth said. “That’s where growth comes from. I have a lot of passion for what I do, but to move forward, I had to work hard and continue taking on more responsibility.”
Balancing the Books
Not all of that responsibility was at work, though. Barth, like many women, also balanced motherhood while climbing the corporate ladder.
“I have three kids,” she said. “There were definitely things I had to contend with that my male counterparts didn’t. There are certain things moms just take care of. But there is always a way to have the family AND the career.”
Barth recommends looking at what your company and your community offer and taking advantage of your resources. “We have a mentoring program. I was also part of a Women’s Advisory Board the company created, which offered ideas and solutions aimed at retaining and progressing women in the company,” she said.
The Next Challenge
As for Barth, she continues to face exciting new opportunities, as MDU Resources recently completed the spinoff of its construction materials and contracting business, Knife River. Going forward, the company’s goal is to become a pure-play regulated energy provider.
“It’s an interesting time for the company,” she said. “We believe having two pure-play companies will unlock significant value for MDU Resources’ shareholders. Executing the spin was a great deal of work, but an exciting opportunity to learn more by being a part of a highly complex transaction and working with advisors and consultants from other parts of the country. You don’t necessarily get those opportunities from other companies in North Dakota. And I think that’s what I have really enjoyed about working for MDU Resources, the exposure to new challenges and diverse work throughout my whole career.”