For this week’s Woman Wednesday, AY About You sits down with Janet Walker.
Walker is originally from Moro, a small town located in eastern Arkansas. She was part of the sixth generation on the family farm on her father’s side, and her mother came from a long line of teachers, dating back to her great-grandmother, who taught in a one-room schoolhouse. Walker followed in her mother’s footsteps and became a teacher, earning a bachelor’s degree in Spanish from the University of Central Arkansas. After her husband had serious health challenges that caused the family to have significant medical debt and only one income, Walker switched careers and became a financial advisor.
“I truly feel like I am still a teacher – it’s just a different subject and different students. I’ve been a financial advisor for 20 years now, and I love what I do,” Walker says.
In her spare time, Walker loves to scrapbook, although she hasn’t had much time to do so. With a senior and a freshman in high school, Walker spends her time doing whatever her children are interested in, knowing all too well that the remaining time with them at home is short. Walker vows to return to scrapbooking and other crafts when they move out. Walker also enjoys reading, and her family is very actively involved in their church. A fan of the outdoors, the Walker family goes to the Smoky Mountains almost every year, where they hike and go rafting.
Walker discusses what it means to her to be a woman. “I may be a bit on the outside on this answer these days as gender seems to be more and more of a focal point. In many ways, I frankly don’t think about it. My job is my job, and it would be my job regardless of gender. In that way, to me it doesn’t matter. I understand that others feel differently about it, and that’s fine. They have had different experiences, and I respect that. I just try to do my job to my absolute best ability,” Walker says. “The greatest thing to me about being a woman is being a mom. It is my highest calling to raise my children well, to prepare them to launch as responsible adults who love Jesus and people.”
Walker discusses her joy of serving as a mentor to younger women in her field. “One thing that I consider a great privilege is the ability to lead younger women who work for me. Some have been through some tough times in life, and it’s very encouraging to them to see a woman as a business owner, leader, entrepreneur. It lets them know that they are capable of more than they might have imagined. It helps them to reframe how they view themselves. I take that responsibility very seriously.”
Walker discusses some of the benefits and difficulties that she has encountered as a woman in her field. “Being in a man’s industry, I must say that there is never a line at the bathroom! That’s an advantage for sure,” Walker jokes. “Seriously though, my business partner is a male. It is not at all uncommon for people who don’t know us to assume that I am his wife or his executive assistant. I mean, who could even imagine a female being a business owner, much less a business owner in the financial industry? Many times they won’t even make eye contact with me while completely engaging with him. It doesn’t happen often in Arkansas because so many people know us, but, when we travel for business, I see it a lot. It’s a reminder to me of what so many women face regularly. I have to give my partner credit though – he is great to line them out and let them know my role. We both know that neither of us would be where we are without the other one.”
Walker offers a word of advice to women and girls who may read this article.
“I am all about finding your passion and pursuing it with every fiber of your being. If you are in a job that makes you dread Monday morning, you’re not pursuing your passion. Consider work to be a blessing. If you are a believer, remember that work existed before the fall of man; therefore, it is not a punishment. Enjoy it. Work your butt off. Rest a little. Then work your butt off again. If it’s in pursuit of something you love, it won’t be bad; it may be exhausting, but it won’t be bad,” she says. “Take the time to think about where you are going. Then take the time to create a path to get there. Then work your butt off again. Be aware of your time spent off the clock. You can check social media, but don’t spend much time there. It won’t grow you. Read things that lead you where you want to be. Also, be certain to find balance in spending ample time with your family. Whether it’s aging parents, your spouse, or your children, you won’t get those days back. Balance is critical.”