Women in Business: Erin Kiefer

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Class of 2018 Women in Business Erin Kiefer President & CEO Assembled Products Corp., Rogers

Residence: Bentonville

Education: B.S., business administration, John Brown University; MBA, John Brown University

Professional background: Kiefer started with the manufacturing company in 2000 as a product manager. She was promoted to director of special projects in 2006, COO in 2016 and president and CEO in 2017. She is a graduate and past president of Leadership Benton County.

What inspired you to pursue your current career? The entrepreneurs in my lineage. Three generations before me were successful inventors who started and operated their own businesses. They never shied away from a challenge.

What’s one key leadership lesson that’s stuck with you during your career? I interviewed the late Frank Broyles once. He said, “Leadership is influence, pure and simple, influence.” If I had to boil leadership down to one word, influence would be it. There are so many prerequisites for your personal character before influence is possible.

What achievement are you most proud of so far in your career? Absolutely nothing I did on my own. Behind every success has been a team of wonderful people. One team achievement was the implementation of a new business systems software. As hard as it was, the team worked together so well, which made it a success. It strengthened us and poised Assembled Products for scalable growth in more ways than one.

What’s the most important aspect of achieving a balance between your career and your family? Return on investment. You may have your career for 40 years, but you have your family for a lifetime and generations beyond. You will get a return on investment from your career, certainly. But invest for your greatest returns with family and friends.

How do you spend your time away from work — if there is such a thing? When I do get away, I spend time with family, read, disciple my girls from church or wakeboard.

What was your dream job as kid? I wanted to be a teacher, accountant, international sales manager to travel the world — haven’t done that yet — and inventor. I never wanted to be just one thing, because I like to stay challenged.

What advice would you give your younger self? I have always told myself “Work before play.” In moderation, that statement is OK. Taken to the extreme, it’s not OK. I can always find work. I would tell myself “Make time to play.”

What are three words you would use to describe yourself? Hard-working. Meticulous. Friendly.

What qualities do you feel are most important in a company leader? Humility. Integrity. Altruism.

Last good book you read? Business: “Leaders Eat Last” by Simon Sinek. Personal: “Encounters with Jesus” by Timothy Keller.

What’s the first thing you do at the office each morning? Review my calendar and to-dos and align them with both short- and long-term goals.

Do you feel like we’re getting closer to gender equality in the workplace? I’ve seen a lot of progress in equality during my career. But we must be careful to promote just that — equality — and nothing more.  Sometimes, by some people, the platform is misused and turned into entitlement, preferential treatment or token placements.

Equality is none of those things. Equality is opportunity for all persons to have non-preferential treatment. Persons should be assessed for their abilities, strengths and skills as opposed to a demographic statistic. When opportunity for equality settles into the hearts and minds of individuals, real change occurs. I believe I have seen non-preferential treatment increasing, so we are getting closer.

Of all the mentors in your professional career, who has been the most influential? Hands down, it’s Jesus. I get my core values from his teachings. Other mentors at the top of my list have also gotten their core values from his teachings.

I wish I knew how to … what? Fly a plane.

What’s your biggest passion? Serving. I serve my family, the great people at Assembled Products and our customers, the Rogers-Lowell Area Chamber of Commerce, my church and my community. I have a hard time saying no when asked to serve, because I want to help others succeed.

What is something unique people would be surprised to know about you? I do my own home repairs when I have time. I’ve diagnosed and repaired our dishwasher, dryer, you name it. If no time, I call the pros.

What’s your favorite smartphone app? An app that our team designed for our newest Mart Cart, the Evolution 4, to be released this year. Without saying too much before its release, it will help our service network. It’s the first app for Assembled Products, and I’m excited about it.

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