Leadership in Heels: An Executive Interview with Scharrell Jackson

Scharrell Jackson

It comes as no surprise that Scharrell Jackson, Founder/CEO of Leadership in Heels and Partner, CFO/COO at Squar Milner, found success in the financial space.

Jackson’s passion for finance began at just thirteen years old–when she held a bookkeeping position in her school district. It was then that she learned the ins and outs of financial management and performance.

After attending UCLA, Jackson ultimately landed at Squar Milner, one of the largest California based CPA firms and one of the nation’s top 50 accounting and advisory firms. She has played a critical role there for the past 19 years. Over the course of Jackson’s career, she has helped grow the firm from a $3.5 million boutique firm with just five partners, to a firm that is worth over $115 million and now holds 62 partners.

“Growth for me meant opportunities for people to work in an environment where their lives could change,” Jackson said. “What really made me continue down this path is that the contributions that I was making were benefiting others, and my core value is to make a difference in the lives of others. It was just a natural fit for me to be in a position of leadership in the finance and operational space.”

But serving as a leader in her industry is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to the way Jackson is intentionally impacting those around her. In 2015, she started a speaker series called Leadership in Heels, which emphasizes authentic conversation by serving as a platform “for women, by women, with the sole purpose of making a difference in a woman’s life.”

Jackson, who will be hosting the next Leadership in Heels event on March 21st, explained that the speaker series provides tools that are not only inspirational, but actionable as well.  “Leadership in Heels not only has created emotional stimuli, but has literally inspired women to give them the courage and the tools to move forward,” Jackson said.

So, how does Jackson juggle it all? She explained that the key to managing her busy life is to prioritize harmony, not balance.

“One of the things I’ve learned to do as I’ve gotten older is ensure that I live my best life–that’s my life motto–and in doing that, I make sure that I take care of myself,” Jackson said. “I don’t really look at it as balance, but I have harmony, and therefore I have a lot of peace.”

When asked what her biggest piece of advice would be for individuals at the start of their career journey, Jackson shared that being comfortable with uncomfortability is crucial.

“There are going to be things that we must do in order to stay true to ourselves that do not feel good. There are going to be people that we disappoint that we do not want to disappoint. That can be uncomfortable,” Jackson said. “But in order to stay true to your authentic self, we have to learn how to be comfortable being uncomfortable, and do it anyways when it’s the right thing to do.”  

Additionally, Jackson emphasized that your journey is your own, and to “see yourself where you want to be, and be there.” She added that, while the path to success may be a windy one, your life is your choice, and to give yourself grace when things don’t go exactly according to plan.

“We measure ourselves by what we accomplish, achieve, what we deem as successful. We need to give ourselves enough grace to know that we are on our way to our own personal ascent,” Jackson shared. ”In the midst of that journey, there are going to be times when we stumble. But a stumble doesn’t mean that we’re down. A stumble means that we have an opportunity to shift and continue to climb. You’re on your way.”