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From Rebellious Teen to Business Woman of the Year

Braedon Stern

Optima Office’s CEO, Jennifer Barnes, has recently been recognized as a finalist for the Business Woman of the Year Award and was nominated for the Women of Influence in Accounting & Finance Award in the San Diego Business Journal. She was also named a winner of the Finance Pioneer Award - Celebrating Women in the San Diego Magazine. Jennifer’s journey is not just about achieving success in San Diego’s business scene; it's a story of a rebellious teenager who overcame numerous challenges to become a respected business figure.

Early Struggles and Triumphs

Jennifer's early career was marked by a series of setbacks. Known for her independent streak, she often found herself at odds with authority figures, leading to her losing 12 jobs before she turned 20. However, these experiences forged her into a bold and innovative business leader. Academically gifted, Jennifer excelled in her studies, earning a finance degree in just three years, followed by an MBA. She rapidly ascended the corporate ladder, managing finances for 23 companies by 2011.

Building a Legacy

Jennifer's entrepreneurial spirit led her to co-found Pro Back Office, but her vision didn't stop there. She later established Optima Office, Inc., which now boasts over 100 employees and has clients all over the nation.

A Role Model and Mentor

Beyond her business achievements, Jennifer is dedicated to mentoring and inspiring the next generation of leaders and business professionals, particularly women. She actively engages with students at universities such as SDSU and CSUSM.

Advice to Aspiring Young Women

When asked about her advice for young women aspiring to make their mark in the business world, Jennifer emphasizes “Have the courage and confidence to put yourself out there. This means applying for roles, networking, and taking on challenges that may terrify you initially. Don't be afraid of failure—instead, ask yourself: What can I learn from this experience? As a female business owner in a male-dominated industry, I can attest that having an open mind has opened many doors for me and taught me valuable lessons.”

A Beacon of Inspiration

Her story is a vivid reminder that the path to success is often unconventional but always rewarding for those who dare to walk it.

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