Patricia Stout has been overcoming odds since childhood. Born in Mexico in the mid-1940s, she first bucked the trend that she saw around her of women becoming homemakers. She had to fight for what she believed in, even as a child. When Stout showed an aptitude for math, the reaction was not encouraging.
“People said, ‘She’s a little girl; she doesn’t need to worry about math,’ but I liked those subjects,” Stout recalled.
She kept studying and discovered an interest in business. Several decades later, Stout faced a challenge of a different sort. By now, she had immigrated to the United States with her husband. The two had started a few business ventures together but were getting divorced and splitting up their assets. A single mother with two young daughters and a mortgage to pay, Stout was at an emotional and financial low point. The divorce settlement left Stout with a small travel agency; but it was in need of complete restructuring, and Stout had never run a company on her own before. She decided that she needed to reinvent herself as a business leader and an entrepreneur.
Patricia Stout. Photo credit: Tim Klein/Northwestern Mutual
“I was like a little bird with short wings, and all of a sudden I had to spread my wings.”
Not only did Alamo Travel Group thrive, the company would eventually book travel for several large government agencies ranging from the Department of Defense to the State of Texas, and the business was featured in Inc. magazine’s list of the 5,000 fastest-growing private companies several times. Stout proved any doubters wrong.
“I feel the picture of a woman is sometimes that of a spouse and a mother and that we have certain limitations, and therefore it’s going to be hard to get out there in the world and compete with large companies. I was told, ‘This is not for you, Pat. It requires a lot of money, and you have to have a lot of determination and be connected.’”
Path to Success