When the careers of most athletes end prematurely, they struggle in transitioning to what is next for them. That certainly wasn’t the case with Stephanie Barrett, who is the head of decision support for North America finance for Aristocrat Gaming.
A member of the Arizona State women’s basketball team, Barrett only played a year because of injuries that required multiple foot surgeries. She quickly transferred to Brigham Young University, where she earned a degree in business management with an emphasis in finance.
Barrett certainly isn’t bitter about her athletic career being cut short, quite the opposite. She believes it taught her valuable life lessons she wouldn’t have gotten anywhere else.
“Being a Division I basketball player has been one of the most transformative experiences for my career and personal life,” Barrett explains. “My coach at the time, Charli Turner-Thorne, was one of the first people who truly held me accountable. It took me years of reflection and healing to fully grasp the profound impact she had on my life, and I am forever grateful. College athletics imparts invaluable lessons that would be difficult to learn in any other way.”
Athletics also inspired Barrett to start an organization called Her Competitive Advantage, which connects current and former collegiate female athletes with companies and recruiters that value their unique skillset.
Having employees mesh with who they work for is key, Barrett says.
“More important than what industry or field you work in, ensuring that you work under great leadership and alongside a supportive team holds the most significance,” Barrett says. “One of my favorite books, Big Potential by Shawn Achor, said, ‘It is not survival of the fittest. It’s about survival of the best fit.’
“Success is not just about how creative, smart or driven you are, but how well you are able to connect with, contribute to, and benefit from the ecosystem of people around you. No matter how brilliant your mind or strategy, if you’re playing a solo game, you’ll always lose out to a team. Individuals play the game, but teams beat the odds.”
It was Barrett’s competitive spirit that helped her family get through a health crisis with her son. She and her husband, a successful college basketball coach, spent many months wondering what the future held.
“Though our son is now healthy and strong, there was a period when his future was uncertain, and we spent a considerable amount of time at children’s hospital, two hours away from home,” Barrett says. “Fortunately, we were able to stay at the Ronald McDonald House (RMDH), which not only provided us with a place to stay, but also supported us in maintaining a sense of normalcy. They fed us, organized activities for our kids, and even offered haircuts. We are immensely grateful for everything the RMDH did for us during this vulnerable time.”
Barrett was able to give back to RMDH when she represented Nevada in the Mrs. America Pageant.
“Participating in the Mrs. Nevada, and later Mrs. America pageants became an incredible opportunity for our entire family to give back to various charities with a specific focus on the RMDH,” Barrett says. “My family has volunteered at RMDHs around the world, with the most memorable experience being in Rome, Italy, where the average stay was 2-3 years.”
These days Barrett’s energies are focused with Aristocrat. She says it is amazing how much the company has changed from when she started five years ago.
“Externally, under our current leadership, we have experienced explosive growth, attained industry-leading status across diverse metrics and KPIs, and emerged as the market leader in innovation,” Barrett says. “There has been a significant emphasis on nurturing our internal talent. At Aristocrat, we recognize that our people constitute our most formidable competitive advantage.”