Kendall Stafford, Managing Partner at Benchmark International is one of the businesswomen who is shepherding business with her visionary ideas and crucial leadership traits. Kendall was born and raised in North Carolina, where her family owned and operated a manufacturing company. She grew up in a businessdriven environment. In high school, she spent her free time helping the family business. Kendall is a managing partner for Benchmark International and heads operations in the company’s Southwest Region. She began as a director at Benchmark International’s US headquarters in Tampa, Florida.
As a director at Benchmark International, Kendall managed a portfolio of client companies while leading a team of analysts and deal negotiators. The staff at Tampa grew threefold under her management and has evolved into the present-day transaction team. After a successful term as a director, she was promoted to managing director, responsible for overseeing three teams of analysts, negotiators, and support staff. Along with managing each team and their portfolios, she continued mentoring future analysts and deal makers.
As a Leader
In 2016, Kendall was chosen to partner with Benchmark International to lead its US expansion plan and develop the Southwest region. Kendall’s office is charged with leading merger and acquisition activity in the lower-middle-market in the states of Texas, Louisiana, Arkansas, Oklahoma, and New Mexico. She and her family made the move from Tampa to Austin where she began the exciting journey of establishing the operations for the region and building the business. This included finding a location in Austin suitable to Benchmark International’s standards, building a book of business, and hiring, as well as mentoring, a team of marketing, sales, and financial professionals.
Kendall’s current role is to lead Benchmark International’s Southwest operations. She is responsible for motivating and mentoring the team in Austin, ensuring customer service standards are consistently met, and effectively transacting duties the team was hired to perform. She says “If I do these three things successfully, everything else falls inline. My effective communication, organization and negotiation skills serve me well in this role.”
Balancing Work with Life
The biggest challenge Kendall faces as a businesswoman is the same challenge that many parents face- finding the balance between work and home life. She said, “I am fortunate to have a career that I love as well as young children, so I have to be conscious to balance the two, so both are well nourished and healthy.” While this is a challenge for women and moms, Kendall sees men and fathers face this same challenge as well. She considers herself fortunate to have a great team both at home and at work that supports working families.
Kendall enjoys the satisfaction of a job being done well and the ability to help others achieve their goals whether it be her team members or clients. Also, the ability to provide a better future for her family and her team’s families. Both of these keep her highly motivated.
Leading with Compassion, Empathy, and Transparency
Kendall continues to learn daily. She has discovered that treating people with compassion, empathy, and transparency helps leaders to build a strong team. She wants her team members to be happy at the office and thus, tries every day to create a welcoming environment. She cares about her team members’ professional and personal lives. She notes “We are in the people business and without our team members, we will not be able to service our clients. If I take care of the team, they will take care of our clients. And it’s a win-win.”
Patience and Perseverance
A critical part of Kendall’s job is the ability to bring buyers and sellers together and consummate the deal. For Kendall, listening, finding common ground, maintaining a level head, and keeping both sides satisfied are crucial to her business’ success. The best result occurs when both sides believe their goals have been met equally. Selling a business can be a lengthy process, so patience and perseverance are necessary, since a deal can die a thousand times before it closes.
An Efficient Employee
Kendall’s work ethic, understanding of the Benchmark model and unwavering support of the company’s vision for growth, has placed her in the perfect position for Kendall Stafford Managing Partner Benchmark International leadership. She has led some of the largest deals Benchmark International has undertaken, and she is a valued member of the Major Transaction Team. These deals are typically over $100 million in transaction value. To close deals like these require complex transaction knowledge, creative structures, and strong relationship management skills; Kendall is naturally curious and always willing to look for new ideas and novel ways of getting things done. She always encourages her team to use whatever resource is available to them to achieve a goal, even if it is something that has not been done before.
Today is the Day
For the budding women leaders, Kendall advises “young women who would like to start their own business should just go for it! There’s no time like the present and you must believe in yourself. Don’t listen to anyone that says you can’t do something and never let fear stop you from trying. You will learn a lot about yourself and your business during the journey and, ultimately, you will be surprised at what you accomplished along the way.”