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Leading in Times of Challenge with Jo Christine Miles

Jo Christine Miles Headshot

February 17, 2021


Jo Christine Miles was recently named director of Principal Foundation and Community Relations at Principal Financial Group. She spent the first 15 years of her life as a corporate restructuring attorney. She considers philanthropy her second career, learning how to connect people to resources efficiently.

Jo Christine Miles Leadership Tips

Miles speaks about one case that stands out in its internal challenges. As a new junior partner in her practice, she was called to help a managing partner with a case related to Nicky Scarfo Jr., the son of a Philadelphia mob boss. Miles says that not only did she face the stress of a typical corporate restructuring case, but she also had to navigate the street brawling style of a mafia family. In order to figure out what she needed to do and help move her partner along, she concentrated on listening and learning from a new perspective. Throughout the case, Miles reached out to the FBI to investigate. Due to conflict interest, the FBI and Miles could not work together, but they could remain connected. She continued to educated her partner on corporate restructuring during this time and build up her credibility with sources he found trustworthy.

When COVID-19 hit, Miles moved with her family three months earlier to Greater Des Moines (DSM) than planned. In New York, where her children had been enrolled in school, in-person education was shut down and moved to virtual with no warning. Then, when in DSM, they had to find a home and continue with virtual school, living in a place where they knew no one and wouldn’t be meeting new people for a while. Miles says she doubled down on listening to her kids. Professionally, in her new role at work, she found it strange to take on a leadership role virtually. With an accommodating and welcoming team, she has made listening and communication top priorities. 

Dealing with challenges on a day-to-day basis, Miles says her family focuses on creating calm spaces in bedrooms. Bedrooms do not contain TVs, computers, etc. so their nighttime routines are not intruded by media of any kind. Miles also talks about how she creates a daily checklist and goes through that to determine if tasks should be redelegated or reprioritized. Once she does this, she can turn off for the day knowing she has moved her initiatives forward. This idea came from the book, The Checklist Manifesto: How to Get Thing Right by Atul Gawande.

Listen to the entire podcast here.

The Leading in Times of Change podcast is brought to you by the Greater Des Moines Partnership and hosted by Mike Jefferson. The podcast features community leaders from across Greater Des Moines (DSM). To listen to more Partnership podcasts, click here.

Leading in Times of Challenge

Leading in Times of Challenge is a podcast featuring Greater Des Moines (DSM) business and community leaders.