Women in Business: Jennifer Hardin

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Photo by Stephen Ironside

Class of 2022 Women in Business Jennifer Hardin Northwest Arkansas Market President The Bank of Fayetteville, Fayetteville

Residence: West Fork

Education: B.S., education, University of Arkansas; Graduate School of Banking at Colorado

Professional background: In 2021, Hardin was appointed Northwest Arkansas market president. The West Fork native started her 25-year career with The Bank of Fayetteville as a part-time teller. Before being named to her existing role, she was vice president, retail operations officer. She’s also worked as a loan processor, lender and branch manager.

What was your dream job as a kid and why? I wanted to be a teacher. The oldest of three, I was definitely bossy and knew I wanted to be in charge. I would line my dolls up, get out my favorite textbook and “hold class.” I always thought I would be in charge of a classroom full of kids, but banking stole my passion.

What advice can you offer to women who want a career in your industry? Go for it! I never set out to have the position I have today. Work hard and surround yourself with good people. Never be afraid to put yourself out there and embrace a good challenge. I’m thankful for the opportunities I’ve been given throughout my career.

What’s the next big personal or career challenge you plan to take on? I’ve always wanted to run a half marathon. Won’t happen this year but hopefully soon.

What is a leader’s best asset? Their people. “The main ingredient of stardom is the rest of the team.” — John Wooden

How has mentorship made a difference in your professional and personal life? I will forever be grateful for Mary Beth Brooks. She has been one of my biggest cheerleaders, both personally and professionally. She believed in me and always encouraged me to be better. She taught me how to be a leader and that surrounding yourself with good people would always make you successful. She pushed me to leave a department or role better than I found it. Mary Beth also taught me that while the truth may sting, it makes you stronger and is just the motivation you need to be better. I strive to do the same with those who consider me a mentor.

You stay busy professionally. How do you take care of yourself and maintain good mental health? This can be a struggle at times. My husband and I love to travel and have some great friends. Spending time on our family farm or traveling with our friends are the best self-care for me.

What’s unique about your company’s culture? Our company’s culture is rooted deeply in investing in individuals, businesses and organizations that make our community a great place to live. Internally, we have a strong set of core values that our employees have embraced: “Be a good human, always find a better way, and go above and beyond to help our customers and teammates.” Our synergistic culture is all about believing in and helping each other evolve to our highest potential.

What is something distinctive that people would be surprised to know about you? ’m an avid sports fan. Woo pig sooie!

Most recent book you’ve read? “Leaders Eat Last” by Simon Sinek.

If you have a bucket list, what are the top three things on it? Run a half marathon, retire young enough to still enjoy life, and circumnavigate the world.