Teri Shepherd sort of fell into the financial services industry — as she describes it — and now this 19-year industry veteran is COO at Carson Group. She focuses on strategic planning and development, financial forecasting and analysis and continuous improvements to the client experience.

"My passion is really to help independent advisors that are out there trying to run their own business," she says.

From her start at Carson Group six years ago — when she became the first woman executive on the team — Shepherd made it a priority to increase the number of women advisors at the firm.

She launched the Women of Carson Group campaign in 2016, which highlights women's achievements and impact in the Carson Group organization.

She now leads nearly 150 female stakeholders and has brought on more than 25 women advisors to the firm.

"Women bring so much to the table and add balance, especially in the advisor role," Shepherd says.

Shepherd leads the operations, technology, compliance and legal teams that oversee more than 95 advisor firm locations.

"What we're really focused on is cohesively integrating all of our technology across our entire platform so the advisor has one go-to place to help clients," she says.

When not in the office, Shepherd is involved with charitable organizations in her hometown of Omaha, Nebraska. She's a board member for CityCare Counseling, a mental health care center for those who cannot afford treatment on their own.

When asked how professional women can work to combat gender bias, Shepherd says having the confidence to let yourself be heard is crucial.

"If you don't share your perspective and where you're coming from, then something gets missed, because women just do approach things differently," she says. "They have a different perspective that can get lost if they're not willing to speak up."

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