The important role women play in business is not just an opinion Brooke Bigham holds, it’s a scenario she demonstrates with her life.
“Women bring a completely unique perspective to board rooms and business meetings,” she says, “Women think differently than men. Our perspective is unique – not better, but different.”
Forgoing college, Bigham went directly into wealth management at Merrill Lynch at 18 years old and began building a name for herself.
“As a mother of two daughters, I work hard to ensure they know they have the ability to accomplish anything they set their minds to and have helped them recognize they have a unique voice that, when used appropriately, can bring value to business and personal relationships,” she says.
After a decade with Morgan Stanley Wealth Management, as a portfolio management associate, estate planning consultant and financial planning specialist, Bigham began developing business strategies and philosophies. This led her to the big decision to implement her own business plan.
In 2014, Bigham co-founded EOS LLC with former Central Bank of the Ozarks commercial business sales offier Jim Hodge, who is now EOS’ chairman and CEO. The executive outsourcing service places temporary leaders within companies that are experiencing rapid growth or the absence of a key team member.
“Our typical contract would be between a year to five years, just depending on the type of project. But really, the goal would be to work ourselves out of a job and to turn it back over to their leadership,” Bigham says, noting she and Hodge fill many of the roles, along with a team of experienced executives. “Sometimes, we just serve in an adviser role, so we can go in with the existing leadership and have conversations about what they want to accomplish.”
Starting and growing a business has been challenging and rewarding, she says.
“I have learned more about myself in these last three and a half years than all the years prior,” she says. “It’s very uncomfortable much of the time, but I have developed so much through this experience, and I wouldn’t change a thing.”
Bigham is passing the knowledge she’s gained to others, especially through organizations that help women – such as Cherished Women’s Ministry.
“I believe that it will take women investing in other women, along with empowering and encouraging them to step up to the plate when a leadership position is available,” she says.
Bigham was approached to serve on the development committee for Harmony House domestic violence shelter – organizing hundreds of businesses to help raise money for and increase awareness of the nonprofit. In 2015, she helped raise $60,000 for the shelter through the innagural iCare event, and more than $150,000 the second year.
“I have always been taught to give back because it is the right thing to do, but I learned I gain so much from the experiences in the process,” Bigham says.
A pair of area medical colleges that received state grant funding in the fall are now investing the funds toward technology and new programs with the intent of attracting more students to the nursing profession.