Hillary Hughes has been described is a role model for early career success and civic engagement.
Currently a director at Prairie Capital Advisors, Hughes manages the company’s Cedar Rapids office and advises clients on issues relating to business valuation and ownership transition. She serves as president of the Iowa/Nebraska chapter of the ESOP Association, is a member of the national ESOP valuation advisory committee and is a frequent speaker at events around the country.
Hughes’ significant civic involvement includes serving as president of the Linn County Conservation Board — where she led a successful $40 million conservation bond campaign in November 2016 — and serving on the boards of Van Meter Inc. and Cedar Rapids Bank and Trust. She’s also a member of Downtown Rotary.
But she said the most important things in her life are her faith and her family, which includes her husband and two young children, and that she continually works to achieve the right balance between her professional career, community involvement and family life.
“Balancing for me is about focusing on what my priorities are,” she said. “That helps me order my day, my week and my schedule.”
For example, she prioritizes picking up her children from after-school care each day.
“My team and my company knows that is my time,” she said. “I work backward from there to build the rest of my schedule for the day.”
Hughes said she is strategic in how she uses her time.
“We all have the same amount of time in our day,” she said. “Being strategic means thinking of where we are investing our time and what is the best outcome. That sometimes means saying no to things, which can be a struggle, but my focus has to be on the things that help me and my family achieve our end goals.”
Being strategic also means understanding where she will add the most value.
“I’ve said no to nonprofit board opportunities because I know I maybe don’t have the vision needed to lead the organization and my time would be better spent as a volunteer,” she said. “I think it’s best to have a narrow focus and go deeper than be at the surface level of a lot of different things.”
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This fall, Hughes began volunteering with Junior Achievement at the elementary school where her daughter attends kindergarten, and she hopes to help young girls have a better understanding of finances.
“It’s such a great program,” she said. “Kids are learning financial literacy and security at an early age.”
Hughes’ work on the Linn County Conservation Board also is very important to her, especially having grown up on an Iowa farm with a focus on conservation.
“We’re really focused on making strategic investments around water quality and land and resource conservation,” she said of her work on the board. “The impacts will be felt for generations to come.”
Going forward, Hughes said she will continue to be present and give her time at work, in the community and at home.
“My story isn’t over,” she said. “I’m making an intentional investment of my time with a mind to the future.”
• Once a month, Business 380 will spotlight one of HER magazine’s Women of Achievement, published by The Gazette. The awards were sponsored by Farmers State Bank.