Content provided by Robyn Murray, Freelance Writer
Dawn with her husband, Jack Batho, III.
Dawn Batho is a people person. Not only does she enjoy talking to people and forming relationships, she takes an interest in their lives and who they are. When I met her at the CLS office, she led me back to a conference room and immediately asked about me. I’m expecting my first child soon, so Batho asked how my pregnancy was going, noting my due date as well as a quick way she might remember it. Pregnant women get a lot of inquiries, but Batho’s interest struck a genuine chord.
At CLS, Batho heads the internal sales department and recently took on the service department too. She has a team of 21 people below her, and she loves working with them. She takes pride in knowing each team member on a professional and personal level, and her favorite hat in her job is that of coach. In fact, if Batho hadn’t ended up in investments, she might have been a teacher.
Dawn Batho grew up in Sioux Falls, South Dakota. Her mother taught math at the local middle school, and her father was a purchasing manager for a dairy. The two combined their skills to pass on to Batho a love and respect for teaching and a frugal sense of money management.
Batho, the second oldest of four kids, got her first job at age 12. She babysat on weekends and over the summers for the family’s dental hygienist. “That was kind of my paycheck when I was young,” she said. When she was 15, she got a job at a local McDonald’s — a lucky move as it introduced her to her future husband. They started dating then, and they’ve been together ever since.
Even in school, Batho liked being around people and talking to them. “I was always the one who was getting in trouble for socializing,” she said with a laugh. “And that really hasn’t changed. I still like to talk.” Batho played recreational basketball in middle school (at 5 feet 11 inches tall, she’s often asked whether she played), performed in the marching band and sang in the choir, and she was a drum majorette her senior year. After high school, she enrolled at the University of South Dakota where she majored in business management and minored in human resources. She wanted to keep her options broad, but she knew she was looking for a position where she could combine her business savvy and people skills.
Her first job out of college was an assistant manager at Kmart. Later, she went back to McDonald’s and took a store manager position. And a few years after that — in 1997 — her high-school-sweetheart-turned-husband got a job offer at Mutual of Omaha to help prepare the company for the much-anticipated Y2K transition. At the time, Batho decided to take the opportunity to move out of retail and hospitality and went to work in Mutual’s variable annuity department.
While she was new to the world of finance, Batho quickly found her niche. “At Kmart, people came and went,” Batho said. “That was really the same with all of my prior management experience. But in this industry, we get to build relationships with advisors and clients, which is way more rewarding.”
In 2004, Batho began her career at CLS Investments. She started out as an internal wholesaler, moved up into a team lead position, and was soon promoted to Director of Inside Sales. In October, she was promoted again to lead the service department in addition to the inside sales team. In this position, Batho spends much of her time training and answering questions, but what she finds most rewarding is coaching her teams and watching her employees succeed. “When I see people getting good scores on surveys or hitting their sales goals, it’s like a ‘proud mama’ moment for me,” she said.
Dawn, Jack III, Jack IV, Jacob, and Joshua Batho.
Batho makes sure she gets to know everyone on her team, personally and professionally. She says knowing about their families, their likes, dislikes, and hobbies helps her be a better support for them. She also asks every new employee about their professional aspirations, so she can help them reach their goals. For example, she cited, Case Eichenberger initially worked under her in internal sales. But he wanted to be an external wholesaler, so Batho assigned him special projects and found opportunities for him to practice presenting. Today Eichenberger is a Client Portfolio Manager. “To see Case doing so well at what he’s doing now,” she said, “is very rewarding to me.”
When she’s not at work, Batho can be found dancing her heart out in Zumba classes or yelling at the TV watching football games with her husband and sons. She has three boys, and she gave me a quick list of details about each one: Her youngest is her class clown who she’s nicknamed ‘ham bone’; her middle son is tender-hearted and loves working with his hands; and her eldest plays college football at the South Dakota School of Mines, and so far the family’s made the drive to every home game.
That will help me remember them — the small, personal details that matter to this proud mama.