Age 29 | President and CEO, Diversified Management Services Inc.


Nobody ever tells you in business school how to run a small company, says Kate Banasiak.

When somebody brings in information about a company 401(k) plan, or anything else a young CEO has never dealt with, that can throw a curveball. But it has been especially important, she said, to learn how to keep a calm and steady presence in all situations – whether in a testy conversation with a client or when an employee gets sick right before a major event.

“There are so many things coming up that I just feel like I have so many things to learn,” said Banasiak, who became CEO of Diversified Management Services Inc. at the age of 27. “At the same time, I feel like I love what we do, so we can kind of figure some of those things out, that are part of being a small, growing business, along the way.”

Her company is an association management company that provides consulting services to nonprofit organizations, trade groups and professional associations.

Banasiak started out as an administrative assistant, but asked a lot of questions and got “incredibly involved in things along the way.” She worked her way through the company, and when the company’s owners decided to retire, they offered her a chance to buy a majority ownership.

Being a CEO has been a learning experience and kept Banasiak busy, but she’s still taking on extra responsibility, though, currently as a member of the National Market Advisory Expansion Council for the Association Management Company Institute.

Banasiak and her husband, Mike, also started Devour Des Moines two years ago, a “Man v. Food”-type fundraising event.

To balance work with having a personal life, Banasiak makes a point to remember that “my relationship and my family is the most important thing,” she said.


Five reasons she’s a 40:

• Became CEO of her company at age 27.

• Works with clients such as CelebrAsian, IowAsia and the World Food Prize Foundation.

• Has raised more than $3,500 for the Iowa chapter of Buy Fresh, Buy Local through Devour Des Moines.

• Her community involvement includes the Greater Des Moines Leadership Institute, the Iowa Society of Association Executives and the board of the Des Moines Embassy Club.

•  “In less than 10 years, Kate’s tenacity and business savvy has managed to set her apart and allowed her to achieve great success in her career. Kate is a true leader, one who leads by example, with kindness, generosity and vision,” said Randi Malone, office manager at Diversified Management Services.

Mentor: Dick Goodson, founder, former CEO and consultant for Diversified Management Services Inc.

Fun fact: How does a young CEO deal with stress? By starting a shoe collection. Banasiak has often made it a point to wear outfits that make people take her seriously as a young professional, but she likes to wear fun shoes to “keep my young flair.” She even has a shoe-shaped chair in her office, which is “a talking point,” she says.