Micah Redman knew the meaning of “pay it forward” long before Hollywood appropriated the title. He started at Ferrellgas, the propane company, 12 years ago as a trainee with a lot to learn. All along the way, he said, “I’ve benefited from the input of strong, responsible leaders who concerned themselves not only with my successes, but counseling me through my failures” and helping him apply the lessons learned to his everyday tasks. The result? At 38, he’s senior vice president for operations at Ferrellgas, extending the reach of compassionate leadership. “Having been in on the receiving end of that generosity,” he says of the firm’s management, “it is my ongoing responsibility to return the favor to those I’m fortunate to lead.” One of those mentoring figures is the company’s CEO, Steve Wambold. From the start, Wambold said, Redman “had the tools of a natural leader and businessman” capable of balancing massive amounts of data with his gut instincts. Redman’s first priority, though, is with his family—“Where my day begins,” he said. His philosophy, whether at home or at work? “If you tend to the growth of your team,” Redman says, “growth in other aspects will always follow.”
Munro Richardson has been studying for more than half of his 38 years—and learning for nearly all of them. From the halls of Congress as a Senate aide to the storied campus of Oxford University as a Rhodes Scholar, Richardson has experienced a wealth of educational opportunities. He could have had his ticket punched to just about anywhere, but instead returned to his hometown with a vision and a purpose: to help Kansas City foster a climate of entrepreneurship for future generations, as director of K-12 education for the Kauffman Foundation. “I am convinced that public education is the most important issue affecting our city,” Richardson asserts. “Our region’s future depends on our ability to develop the human capital necessary to be competitive nationally and abroad.” Toward that end, he was charged with launching the Kauffman Scholars program six years ago, and is applying some of that success to a new initiative the foundation is rolling out. He balances those career demands with educational ones, working toward his PhD in political science from the University of Illinois. And, even more important part of the life equation is effectively partnering with his wife, Teresa, in raising three daughters, ages 4–11.
Anyone who knew Molly Rothove back in 2003 could have seen this coming. Her success was about the closest thing you’ll find to preordained. That was the year she won Rockhurst University’s Senior Gold Medal, given to the graduating student with the highest grade-point average, earning her degree in economics summa cum laude, with a minor in finance. She went on to pick up her MBA at the University of Kansas in 2008. And she made vice president at Creative Planning, the Leawood-based wealth management firm, less than five years after coming on board. During that same period, the company’s assets under management swelled from $30 million to $1.2 billion. Much of that success stems from her work to help develop a one-stop-shopping strategy for managing wealth. It allows clients to take care of real estate, investments, insurance, business and estate planning, and tax and debt management all under one roof. “It is important for me to take care of my clients, to provide for them and their families in the best way possible,” says Rothove, 29. “From this center, everything else flows.” Her contributions to the community include volunteer service for two years with KC CAN!, the Children’s Assistance Network, including a term as treasurer.
For Jay Ruf, commercial real estate is all about getting the deal done—but never at the expense of the relationships involved. Now a senior vice president for First Scout Realty Advisors, Ruf has pulled down serious honors from each of the realty firms he’s worked with, including highest annual volume in Cohen Esrey Real Estate Services history and, more recently, First Scout’s 2009 honors for the largest transaction in its history. Total career transaction volume: more than $250 million. Good fortune has had little to do with his success. “Luck,” Ruf says, “is where preparation meets opportunity.” The 37-year-old holds degrees in civil engineering and business administration from the University of Kansas, is a supporter of the Rock Chalk Ball and the school’s storied Williams Athletic Fund, and sits on the alumni association’s board of directors. He also has been involved over the years with various charities, including the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society, the American Heart Association, Harvesters, the United Way and Big Brothers and Big Sisters of Kansas City. Next on his to-do list? Building a blended family with his fiancé, Lori; they plan to marry next month, creating an instant family of four, including his son and her daughter.