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American Equity’s Bryant named 2021 Human Resources Professional of the Year


The Business Record has named Jennifer Bryant as the Dentons Davis Brown Human Resources Professional of the Year. Bryant is executive vice president and chief human resources officer of American Equity Investment Life Insurance Co. in West Des Moines, a position she has held since 2016.

The award, launched by the Business Record last year, is designed to highlight an outstanding HR professional from Central Iowa for their professional accomplishments and community engagement.

Over the past two years at American Equity, Bryant has led a significant talent acquisition and development initiative for the company, which has included bringing on more than 170 additional employees since January. She has also developed clear messaging as the company has moved forward in a transformative new strategic direction and led the charge on introducing an internal communications campaign built around five cultural beliefs. She was nominated by American Equity’s president and CEO, Anant Bhalla.

“As you can imagine, working remotely for almost a year and a half is not an easy task,” Bhalla wrote in nominating Bryant. “Our company swiftly pivoted in March of 2020, and we have operated remotely since. Jennifer’s strong sense of purposeful leadership has not only helped the company stay focused, but we have experienced tremendous growth, increasing our operating income from $120 million to $550 million. This is an incredible accomplishment and one that would not have happened without communicating clear objectives within my executive team and across the company.”  

Before joining American Equity, Bryant held senior human resources roles with Bankers Trust, Aviva USA and Wells Fargo Home Mortgage. She has 23 years of experience as a human resources professional.

Retired Bankers Trust CEO Suku Radia said Bryant “was a very important confidante to me” during her tenure at Bankers Trust. “She is an exceptional leader who is compassionate and always helpful in ensuring that the ‘tone at the top’ is right, which enhances the culture of the organization,” Radia wrote.

Among her community leadership roles, Bryant has served on the board of Greater Des Moines Habitat for Humanity and is currently on the board of the Greater Des Moines Botanical Garden. She is also a member of Des Moines Financial Executive Women.  

She has a Master of Science degree in industrial relations from Iowa State University and a Bachelor of Arts degree in liberal arts and psychology from the University of Iowa.

Bryant will receive the award during the Business Record’s Jobs Outlook online panel discussion that will be held Thursday, Oct. 14, at 11:30 a.m. Register for the free virtual event.

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