Photo by Bonnie Manning, Feature Photographer
Marjorie Stephens (shown with a few of her nine grandchildren!) is passionate about the mission of the BBB of Northern Indiana, which is to provide information services to businesses and consumers in 23 counties of the state. In July, she was appointed the president and CEO of the organization and we caught up with her by phone to talk a little about her career and to find out what the future holds for this extraordinary woman.
Q: Congratulations on your appointment! How did you come to be the president and CEO of the BBB?
A: “Thank you; it really has been quite a year. Actually, I have been with the BBB for about 11 years, first as the marketing and communications director and then in operations. When the opportunity came up to become the president and CEO, my name came before a search committee and I was asked to submit a business plan and present. It was a long process, but in the end, I was chosen. Though I have only been in this position a short time, I am honored to be here.”
Q: What are your goals for the BBB of Northern Indiana?
A: “I want to mentor others and to make a difference in the community. I want to be able to develop the staff and take them out of their comfort zones a little. I like the idea of increasing everything including the number of programs that we have for young people. I want them to learn about bullying, cheating, having good ethics in the marketplace and to know that they can come to the BBB in order to find trustworthy businesses throughout their lives.”
Q: Who were some of your early mentors?
A: “I have been mentored by a number of CEOs including Mike Coil in Michigan, Steve Bernas of Chicago and Lena Yarian, president and CEO of the Junior Achievement of Northern Indiana. All of them have been a good pipeline of information. However, my mother was also a big influence. She didn’t even finish high school, but she always stressed the importance of an education and relying on one’s self in order to succeed.”
Q: Can you tell us a little about your family and what you do in your spare time?
A: “I am a grandmother to nine so I stay busy. I came to this position a little later in life however; I am nowhere near ready to retire yet! That’s not an option for me at the moment. I do go to a lot of the grandkids functions and I am also an avid reader. I like to paint, both with oil and water because it is relaxing and I like to listen to music. I am also in the process of writing a book about women in the workplace. It’s been a lot of fun and I will hopefully have it published someday.”
Q: What does the future hold for you?
A: “At the moment I am in a CEO performance group, which consists of several CEOs who share information with one another about best practices in the business world. I recently finished the budget and I am really excited about taking the plunge over the next few years to really reach out to the community, schools and business men and women so that I can help them stretch themselves a little in order to be the best that they can be!”