When area business leaders and officials talk about brain drain, they usually mean people who leave Sarasota and Bradenton for the big cities, from Atlanta to Boston to Chicago.
Jen Rust drained in the reverse. A native of Fort Lauderdale, Rust grew up in one of those big cities, Atlanta. She got into real estate when she was 17, and even with a stop at college, Kennesaw State University, outside Atlanta, Rust built a strong real estate career in and around Atlanta in the 2000s. It was a booming time in real estate, and Rust’s career was thriving.
But by 2009, Rust sought a change. She sought a place where she could blend community involvement and philanthropic work with a business career. She settled on Sarasota, and left the big city. She had no job in town. She didn’t know anyone.
“At first it was very tough,” says Rust. “It was hard to make friends. It was hard to find a career that I was both passionate about and found interesting.”
Rust took some sales jobs, mostly to pay bills. She worked for a telecommunications company, and later for payroll firm Paychex. Then she mostly fell into banking and wealth management, through some friends and business contacts. “It’s not what I went to school for,” she says, “or what I ever thought I would do.”
But now it’s her passion. Rust has earned several licenses and accreditations for wealth management and she specializes in credit and cash management for clients. Rust and her business partner, Jennifer Steube, have now worked together for five years, first with PNC Bank and now with Synovus.
Rust is also well known in Sarasota for chairing numerous nonprofit boards and events. That aspect of her career, says Rust, “has helped me create some wonderful relationships with a lot of people in town.”
— Mark Gordon
Name: Jen Rust
City of residence: Sarasota
Twitter handle: @jrustsrq
Employer: Synovus Bank
Title: VP, Private Wealth Adviser
Birthplace: Ft. Lauderdale, Fla.
Years on the Gulf Coast: 7
Marital status/children: Not married and no children
Alma mater: Kennesaw State University – Kennesaw, GA
Best place to network: I enjoy giving my time back to our community and being philanthropic, so I find that volunteering, being a part of committees and taking leadership positions with organizations has been extremely helpful in building my network of friends and centers of influence all while giving back and doing something that I truly love and enjoy.
Coolest business experience: I’ve had many unique and interesting business experiences, but if I had to choose the coolest, it would be the time that the members of Collective Soul wanted to take a look at a property that I was the listing agent for. They were a pretty main stream band at the time, so it was really fun to work with them!
Messy desk or clean workspace: Clean for sure! I try my best to keep my desk tidy so that when my day gets crazy, which happens quite frequently, I don’t get stressed or frazzled.
Best business lesson ever learned: Patience. I’m someone who likes to get things done quickly and efficiently, so patience is not a virtue of mine. But I’ve learned over the years that being able to have patience, particularly in a stressful or tough situation, gives you the ability to see past short term emotions, come up with level headed decisions and create a clear path to a resolution that is beneficial for all parties involved. It also allows you time to reflect on a situation and see things from other people’s points of view, which I feel is very important in business
A website that makes your job easier: Google – I know it’s a search engine, but I use it hundreds of times a day.
Community group you’re most involved with: While I give back to many groups and nonprofits in town, I’ve been a Board member at the Asolo Theatre since 2014, so I spend a lot of time in that role. I am also the 2016 President of Designing Daughters, a group of about 100 professional women who raise money and provide grants to non-profits in the Sarasota and Bradenton communities. Additionally, I help run a family foundation honoring my late brother, which provides College Scholarships to graduating high school seniors.
Favorite off-hours activity: I love food and wine, so anything that has to do with a great dinner, amazing wine and good friends is right up my alley. Traveling is also very high on my list, so anytime I can get away on an out of town adventure I do my best to make it happen.
Two people, dead or alive, you’d like to have dinner with: Well, the first would have to be my younger brother Alan, who lost his life in an accident back in 2014. I would love to have the chance to see him and talk to him again. The second would be Abigail Johnson, the CEO of Fidelity Investments. I would really enjoy learning more about the challenges she has faced as a woman leader in the financial world and some of her life lessons.
What you would be doing if you could pick another career: I would love to work with children and teenagers by mentoring, teaching and helping them find confidence in themselves. I was very lucky to have amazing mentors in my life that shaped my career & leadership skills and allowed me to find the best version of myself. I would love to do the same for others.
Top item on your bucket list: I would like to write a book. I’ve had a few ideas over the years, but have not had the time to actually make it happen
Skill you’d like to learn: How to play the piano. I think it would be so cool to be able to sit down at a piano and just start playing beautiful music.
Who would play you in a movie about your life: Kate Hudson. I love her movies, she seems very down to earth and like a fun person to be around, and she’s really good at her job
If I had a magic wand I’d: Want to make sure everyone in the world had three meals a day – it’s sad the amount of people in this world who don’t receive the nutrition they should.