Susan K. Beasley
Ritter Communications, Vice President of IT, PM & Facilities
Education: B.S., management information systems — data/telecom, Arkansas State University; Master of Health Informatics and Information Management, University of Tennessee
Professional background: Beasley joined Ritter Communications as Project Administration Manager in 2015. Prior to joining Ritter, she spent 14 years at St. Bernards Healthcare, including three years as IT director.
What was your dream job as kid and why?
To be a writer. I loved to read and make up stories. I once needed to present an oral book report and just made up a story and an author. It was a lot of fun until the teacher asked me to bring the book to class!
What has been the most fulfilling moment of your career so far?
Managing the build and implementation of the Ritter Data Technology Center. To be a part of something of this magnitude being built in Northeast Arkansas has been an incredible learning experience. This facility will provide our community and others with a location that meets the rigid structural specifications required to protect data and IT infrastructure from weather similar to our recent EF3 tornado, California-rated seismic activity, fire and flood disasters, and more. As a long time information technology professional, this will help me sleep better at night. It is exciting for me to know that Ritter as a technology leader has built a state-of-the-art facility for our customers.
What’s the next big personal or career challenge you plan to take on?
Security is predominate in my career. Due to constant Ransomware, phishing attempts and system hacking, I feel it is really important to stay on top of cybersecurity. The only way to do that is to stay current and educated. Therefore, personally, I am studying for a CISM (Certified Information Security Manager) certification. I love my career at Ritter and hope that as the company expands and grows there will be a CISO (Chief Information Security Officer) position available, and I will be ready for the challenge.
Can you share what you have learned about your business from the COVID-19 pandemic?
Internet access/availability has become essential almost as much as any other utility. Without it, there would not be virtual physician visits or e-learning. Our company lived its values. They immediately put personnel needs and concerns first to ensure our safety.
People are very resilient. Our company adapted quickly to working from home. But what impressed me the most is how they all pulled together to help each other solve any challenges along the way to ensure we can be productive.
What’s your biggest passion and why?
My biggest passion would be helping others. I enjoy doing volunteer work. I believe it is important to give back. Volunteer in your community. I don’t just believe in donating money, I think it is important to donate your time. But it doesn’t have to be with an organized fundraiser. Reach out to someone that might be struggling making ends meet or just needs to know someone cares. There were times in my life when I really thought that things were tough, but when I look back I realize they just made me stronger. But at the same time, I was always grateful to those who offered a helping hand.
How do you spend your time away from work? What are your hobbies?
My son once said my passion was working. I am learning to “unplug” a little more. I love spending time with my family. Game night is always a great time with my family or friends. I love to read, bake and to deer hunt. I tend to take on a hobby, conquer it and move on to the next one.
What’s your favorite app at the moment?
The Calm app. These are stressful times, this helps alleviate some of that stress.
What advice would you give young women who are at the beginning of their careers?
Never give up, listen — instead of talking — and always be kind and grateful. There will always be roadblocks, but step back, re-evaluate, and there is always a way to get around them. Don’t let your own insecurities be the roadblock. If you are the one doing all the talking, you are not learning. Everyone has a perspective to offer, be respectful and listen. If you always try to treat people with kindness it will be rewarding. It also helps you start off on the right foot with others. Put yourself in their shoes, and always remember you may not know what battles they are fighting. Be grateful. Everything you learn along the way is a gift. Good or bad, it will teach you a lesson.
Of all the mentors in your professional career, who has been the most influential and why?
I have been blessed by several. But I believe you have to start at the foundation and I would have to say my dad. I started working for him at the age of 10. He taught me a very strong work ethic. In addition, he always believed I could do anything. Throughout the years there were many times I took on nontraditional career roles, and he always encouraged me and celebrated my successes. He also strongly believed in furthering education, which created a path for me to follow.
What character traits do you feel have benefited you in your success?
I believe in working hard, being dependable, constantly learning, having a positive attitude and being thoughtful. If you care about the people you are working with, they will care about you too and help you be successful.
What is something distinctive that people would be surprised to know about you?
I like to conquer my fears at least once. Therefore, I have been skydiving, white water rafting in Class IV rapids and raced motorcycles.
If you have a bucket list, what are the top three things on it?
Lead a healthier lifestyle, visit Australia, and take a hot air balloon ride — or at least attend a hot air balloon festival.