Jean Cook always had a head for numbers. Growing up in Corning (Clay County), Cook spent summers at her grandparents’ Poplar Bluff, Missouri, business, where motorcycles, boat motors and chainsaws were sold.
“My grandma kept the books, and my grandpa did everything else,” Cook said. “I loved helping my grandma sort out the tickets. … I think that kind of started it, because then I took every business class I could in high school.”
After graduating from Corning High School in 1979, she attended the University of Arkansas at Fayetteville, where she received her degree in accounting in 1983.
In 1983, Cook started working in the Tulsa office of the accounting firm Arthur Young, which later became Ernst & Young. Over the years, Cook held various positions related to finance at several companies.
In 2015, Gene Scott, the president and CEO of Travel Nurse Across America, decided the North Little Rock company needed a CFO because of its growth. Scott obtained Cook’s resume and gave her a call. She started her job in January 2016.
The company, which places traveling nurses in hospitals in all 50 states for typically 13-week assignments, continued to grow.
The company’s revenue is projected to be between $180 million and $200 million this year. In 2014, it was $43 million and the company had about 40 employees and about 400 nurses. It now has about 200 employees and 1,500 nurses, making it the fifth-largest travel nurse staffing agency in the country, Cook said.
“We have a goal of being No. 2 in the next two to three years,” she said.
She said she wants to have a positive impact on people’s lives. Cook also works with others to solve problems.
“A long time ago, a mentor said, ‘Sunshine is the best disinfectant,’ meaning if you shine a light on it, you can probably solve it and get it fixed,” Cook said. “I’ve used that phrase a lot over time.”