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Big Impact: Chuck Bates

Feb 7 2012 4:33 PM
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Steven “Chuck” Bates ’97 learned a lot on the move. A military brat, his family lived in Watertown, S.D. until his father was stationed at Offutt Air Force Base in Bellevue. When he was 10, his family relocated to Belgium, where Bates graduated from high school at the NATO base. Then he moved back to Nebraska to attend the UNL College of Business Administration.

“My aunt lived in Omaha, and I thought it would be good to have family nearby. Growing up as a military brat teaches you work ethic, independence, confidence and people skills. Those things go a long way in a business community,” Bates said.

Bates proved that was true during his time at UNL and graduated with a degree in economics. He started his career at Ameritrade in Omaha, and moved to Texas to hire and train staff for the Fort Worth office. Later he decided to learn more about the institutional side of the business, such as Hedge Funds and larger asset managers, by working at Direct Trading in Dallas, Texas.

“Bridgeway Capital Management, Inc. was a customer of mine at Direct Trading and recruited me to work on their trading desk,” Bates said. “The job change would allow me to learn another part of the financial industry.”

Bridgeway, located in Houston, Texas, also had three unique aspects Bates found compelling. First, no one is permitted to make more than seven times the lowest paid employee, which is part of the mission statement and started as an idea by the founder John Montgomery.

“The firm also gives 50 percent of its profits to charity. All Bridgeway employees are called partners and have historically been given a designation they can give as they see fit to any 501c3 charity. Bridgeway also has a very generous matching gift program,” Bates said.

Lastly, partners are encouraged to give their time to charitable causes. Bates said the goal is to ultimately have employees giving 20 percent of work time or one day a week to charitable causes.

Bridgeway provided an opportunity to give to others in so many ways that Bates couldn’t refuse. In 2004, he relocated to Houston to start his career in trading and operations as a partner at Bridgeway.

He and his coworkers are very involved in the community and in January, participated in a Friday park clean up organized with the help of Houston Parks and Recreation.

Bates is also treasurer of the board of Navidad en el Barrio, which provides Christmas presents to economically disadvantaged children.

“One of things I enjoy most is the exposure to the great organizations that my coworkers are a part of as well. We have given to Living Water International (drilling wells in Guatemala and Honduras), Hovde House for abused women and children in Peru and various food banks and educational programs to name just a few.”

In 2010, Bridgeway received the Liberty Award for work with the Anti-Defamation League’s No Place for Hate Program. The firm was also named the #4 Great Small/Medium Place to Work in the U.S. by the Great Place to Work Institute and Entrepreneur.com

Bates married his wife, Tracie who is also a UNL graduate, shortly after taking his job at Bridgeway. They have a four-year-old daughter, Kenzie.

“I enjoy the people at Bridgeway and the day-to-day work, but I also appreciate the important component of contributing to the community and the world by giving back. Volunteering also keeps me on the move and I continue to learn that way.”