Finance Whiz and Entrepreneur, Washington DC

I got to know Katie in Washington DC while I was on a mission to shoot another WOW Woman. As we got talking, she mentioned serving on the board of the National Veteran Small Business Coalition, which I thought was amazing because Katie is married to a veteran and is passionate about the issues affecting veterans. Katie also co-founded a successful business, called govmates bridging small business owners (veteran owned and otherwise) with government contracts (big and small). She also volunteers for the Junior League of Washington. And if all that wasn't enough, she also has a full time job and is a mom to a very active and adorable toddler. She kicks ass (figuratively and literally speaking) - see Question 11 if you don't believe me. There was no way I was walking away from this recipient of the SmartCEO Banker of the Year and Business Journal Minority Business Leader awards, and a truly inspiring multi-tasking mom.

1. Name

Katie Bilek

2. Where is your hometown?

Houston, TX

3. What is your profession/career/title/self-label/designation?

Senior Vice President at Republic Capital Access, and co-founder at govmates

4. What was the journey like to get where you are (career wise)? When was the mental shift to start the journey?

I started my career at Goldman Sachs as I've always had a passion for the markets coupled with the competitive pace of Wall Street. When my husband deployed to Afghanistan, that changed my outlook on life - my priorities were just different. I moved to the DC area (his home base) and became the third hire of a small finance company that had created an innovative structure to fund government contracts. Though I loved the people, my clients and the work at Goldman Sachs, I wanted to truly build and grow a business.

5. What did you study in school?

Finance and Spanish

6. How is your life different from what you pictured at 20?

I am now a mother, and I actually really enjoy it.

7. What was biggest disappointment and plan to overcome it?

When people are inflexible or unwilling to think creatively in order to solve a problem, it frustrates me. I am my own biggest critic, and I admit I always need to improve. When I encounter people who think they're done growing, changing or learning, they're pretty much dead to me.

8. Advice for other women?

Don't focus on your gender - focus on results. Our world is a meritocracy once everyone (including women) learn to treat it as such.

9. Knowing what we know now in current political climate, can women be "all that we can be" in today's world? What is the way forward, as you see it for "feminist values"?

We all have a choice as to what stereotypes we choose to adhere to, or which standards we think we must meet. Always have an opinion and don't be influenced by group think.

10. Where in the world do you feel “tallest” (i.e. where is your happy place)?

Closing deals and beating the competition.

11. What extra-curricular activities/hobbies are you most proud of? Why?

I have a 1st degree black belt in Shorin-Ryu karate, and I love to box. That means I can kick ass, both literally and figuratively.

12. What do you want to be when you grow up? Future goals/challenges?

1 1/2 years ago, I co-founded govmates, an online teaming partner platform for government contractors. My biggest challenge is finding a way to monetize and scale govmates without diluting the brand and reputation we've built.

13. What fears are you still hoping to overcome?

I want my son to grow up to be a good, honest person with integrity. That is a job I work on every day.

14. Anything you'd do differently (if you had another go at life)?

Learn Mandarin.

15. What inspires you?

The Economist (which I don't really get to read anymore as mom to a toddler).

16. What are you hopeful about?

That I will be able to read The Economist cover to cover again some day.

17. What are some ingredients to a good life?

Be comfortable in your own skin. Be authentic.

18. What are you reading now? (what books do you gift most and what are your favourite reads?

Currently reading "Scaling Lean" by Ash Maurya

19. Where can others find you/your work (links to websites, blogs, etc.)?,