Before becoming a vice president and company controller at Bridgestone Americas Inc., Kara Stratton Jacobs spent more than thirteen years at Deloitte, starting as a general staff member and eventually becoming a managing director.
While ascending the ranks at Deloitte, Jacobs methodically built leadership skills and accounting expertise that allowed her to thrive in a front-office role at Bridgestone, the world’s largest tire and rubber company, which employs more than 142,000 people. Jacobs, in conjunction with her team of five direct reports, is responsible for all financial reporting to Bridgestone’s parent company in Japan.
Although her job is centered around dollars and data, Jacobs takes seriously her role as mentor. When she arrived at Bridgestone, her team was mostly vacant, forcing her to build it from the ground up. Now, two years into her role, Jacobs’s finance team is considered the gold standard within the company—a “North Star” exemplar that guides and mentors other teams and departments.
Citing a servant-leader management style, Jacobs notes that she never asks of someone else what she would be unwilling to do herself. This authentic and equitable leadership approach has allowed Jacobs to build an impressive rapport within her team and throughout the company.
“Kara has always been regarded as one of the best in the business and continues to lead by example at Bridgestone by tackling a multitude of initiatives,” says Jessica Kashyap Ragauskis, a senior director of accounting and finance client solutions at Vaco. “She has been a role model to many young associates both at Deloitte and at Bridgestone, all while raising two beautiful children. Kara is truly one of a kind, and it’s been an honor for Vaco and myself to work with her.”
Jacobs acknowledges that her success wouldn’t have been possible without mentors and community members who, early on, identified her strengths and molded her into the person she is today. Jacobs earned her bachelor’s degree in accounting from the University of Tennessee at Martin and became the first of her family to attain a college degree.
Shortly thereafter, Jacobs continued to pursue higher education and attained her master’s degree in accounting from the University of Tennessee. Jacobs credits these successes to an abundance of mentors, and she strives to always pay it forward to others looking to forge similar career paths.
At a time when Bridgestone’s workforce is becoming more diverse, Jacobs conceptualizes her role as a leader to be even more critical. Jacobs strives to develop personal relationships with team members in order to identify their strengths and help them achieve their goals. Given the company’s innovative culture, lofty goals are always encouraged with fervor.
Founded in 1931, the Bridgestone Corporation places Jacobs in a rare company of global executives tasked with financial reporting for such a large company. Nevertheless, Jacobs’s humble beginnings keep her grounded, encouraging her to always stay true to herself and to give back to those around her.