Meet Stephanie Butler, PhD, Senior Director of Leadership Solutions

 

Stephanie oversees executive assessments from the senior director level to the C-suite, providing selection, development, succession planning, and coaching services. She also manages the team that delivers executive assessments.

What led you into this field?

I took an industrial psychology course as a college sophomore. It combined two of my favorite areas, business and psychology. In my junior year, I worked with a local fire department to develop a physical abilities test. That was in 1983 when it was unusual for a woman to work with men around physical abilities and testing. I selected I-O psychology early on. After receiving my bachelor’s degree, I got a master’s and a Ph.D.

People with an I-O psychology degree often go into academia, industry, or consulting. I had an internship in graduate school that involved consulting. Knowing how I was hard-wired and what I was interested in, consulting was best for me because it combined the science and practice of I-O psychology to make a practical difference in business settings. I love teaching too, but I fulfill that passion through coaching.

I started working at the executive leadership level because of my interest in business. The cost of making a bad hiring decision or having a high-level executive leave is extremely high. If I can help an organization make good talent-related decisions to avoid that type of scenario and get up to speed quickly, I want to be part of that. I’m really energized by that top level because I’m at the table with executives helping them make decisions in very pivotal roles.

What or who has influenced your career the most?

It’s family and then faith, I would say. I have a very supportive family, and I come from generations of very capable women. For example, I had a great, great aunt who would pull me aside and say, “Stephanie, you’re smart. You can do anything you want to do. Make sure you get your education and pursue your dream.”

I had a great grandmother and a grandmother who had done just that. My great grandmother had a career. She was active in the civil rights movement in Georgia in the 40s, 50s, and 60s when it wasn’t such a cool thing to do. My grandmother who was also very career-oriented and put herself through college during the depression.

Besides that, my parents never restricted my sister or me based upon the usual criteria. They were about maximizing and reinforcing our talents. They never said, “You can’t do that. You’re not a boy,” or, “You can’t get a college degree. What if you get married and your husband works and you don’t?”

Regarding my faith, I believe that everybody has a niche and a gift. I support people by encouraging them to be unafraid to take a risk and make their dreams happen. I believe people need to do what they’re called to do. I’m a catalyst for others’ growth and the achievement of their personal mission in life.

What have you learned about yourself over the course of your career?

I’ve learned that the more I learn, the more I need to learn! I never stop, and that’s what keeps it fresh and exciting. There’s always something new to learn—from clients, certainly in the field of I-O, and even from people in the OutMatch Talent Cloud™, our network of talent management professionals that help deliver executive assessments. Working with other coaches, I get to learn a new twist on some of the things I’ve done for years.

What’s something no one knows about you?

One is that I’m related to James Madison. I had a great uncle who researched it years ago, back before you could search online. What he did to find all the information is amazing.

Also, I have a 10-year-old beagle I adopted from a breeder when my son was nine. I wanted a breed that would be very gentle so my son could bond with the dog. We got the runt on purpose since we didn’t want a show dog, but it grew to be the tallest in the litter! I’d purposely asked, “Which one are you not going to show?” because all I cared about was the temperament. I didn’t even really care about the looks. I love all dogs.

The breeder came by one day and said, “Oh my goodness!” From his stance she could see that he was champion quality. I let her show him, and he became an AKC champ. He was even invited to the AKC/Eukanuba National Championship. So I have an AKC champion—but he’s your basic family dog.