A positive attitude, perseverance and her family have driven Ronda Stegmann to overcome hurdles and work her way up the ladder in the state retirement field for over two decades.
Jefferson City is lucky to have generations of women who have tremendous impacts on their companies and the community. Five women are featured in the Oct. 29, 2018, issue of #jcmo Inside Business as "Voices of Influence" in the business community.
As executive director of Missouri State Employees' Retirement System, she promotes MOSERS, as well as works with state employees regarding their retirements. She also tries to encourage communication between MOSERS, stakeholders and members.
Before being promoted to executive director in June, she served as interim executive director for six months. Prior to that, she worked as MOSERS' legislative and policy coordinator.
"Every week I was in (these) roles, the sense of caring for the staff, for the members, kept growing," she said.
Before coming to MOSERS in 2015, she worked as the executive director of the Joint Committee on Public Employee Retirement at the Missouri State Capitol and had been with the committee for 16 years.
Having zero background in retirement originally, Stegmann hadn't planned to go into the field. While working at the Capitol and prior to meeting her husband, she was a single mother trying to provide for herself and her young daughter, while also attending college. She needed the money, and the job at the Capitol paid slightly more than her job at the time, she said.
"I thought I needed to do the best I can to help (my daughter), and I was only going to do it for a few years," she said. "Then 20 years later, I had grown into that role. I had people that saw something in me that I didn't see in myself and mentored me."
Other businesswomen could face similar hurdles she overcame, Stegmann said. She advised staying positive and persevering through the challenges.
"Just because you don't succeed at something the first time doesn't mean you stop trying," she said. "You may be in a difficult season or have setbacks but that doesn't have to define your life. You get to decide what kind of day you're going to have and what path you're going to go down. So, you took the wrong path? You turn around and go back. You get to decide that. It's all about your attitude."
Stegmann enjoys spending time with her husband, children and grandchildren. She served as staff vice chair of the Budget and Revenue Committee within the National Conference on State Legislatures. She also has volunteered with her church, First Assembly of God; the Daughters of the American Revolution; the Wardsville Boy Scouts Troop 394; and the Blair Oaks Junior Falcon Football Club.
Editor's note: Answers have been edited for length and clarity.
Q. Who influenced you early in your career and how did they do so?
"Claire West was the director of the (Joint Committee on Public Employee Retirement) that hired me. I was the administrative assistant there. She was going to be retiring in a couple of years, and she said, 'The only person that has the heart to direct this office is sitting right out there.' I was the only one sitting out there. That was the very first time that I thought, 'Wow, maybe I can do something.'"
Q. What drives you as a businesswoman?
"I want to leave things better than I found it. It may not be this huge, earth-shattering thing that I do, but when my time on this Earth is done, I want people to go, 'You know, she made things better. She always had a nice word for someone.'"
Q. How do you want to influence your company or the community?
"I want to continue MOSERS in the positive reputation that they've had for many, many years. I want to continue to promote that positive message and vision and to assure our members that their benefits are secured. I want to encourage our staff and do for them what Claire did for me many years ago — that you can achieve anything you set your mind to achieve."
Q. What advice would you give to young women starting a career?
"It's OK to like yourself. It's OK to believe in yourself. When someone gives you a compliment, we tend to (brush it off). It's OK to believe in yourself — not have this inflated sense of self, but it's OK to think, 'I can do this.' Be open to possibilities because you never know what opportunities might come down the road that you might not think you have the ability to pursue, but why not? If you don't try, you'll never know."
This article appears in the Oct. 29, 2018 issue of #jcmo Inside Business.
This story was updated at 9:22 a.m. on Wednesday, Oct. 31, to correct Ronda Stegmann's name in the photo caption. It was originally spelled incorrectly.