As women with a shared interest in the pension industry, it’s important to continue to celebrate and learn from each other’s successes. Recently, we spoke with Tammy Ouverson, Vice President, Business Development at OneAmerica. We asked Tammy about the pivotal moments she has experienced throughout her career that have helped advance her to where she is today.
Tammy, you were with Voya for about 20 years and had a successful career going. What factors went into your decision to move to a new company in a new state?
I wasn’t proactively looking for new opportunities. I loved Voya and the people I worked with. As women, when we get a call, we need to be brave and listen. I listened and kept moving forward, one step at a time. At the end of the day, the opportunity to move to a smaller company in the same business where I could play an integral part in driving strategy was exciting. That, coupled with a good financial opportunity, helped me make the move. And…it has turned out awesome.
With such an exciting opportunity comes a lot of uncertainty. How did you overcome your fears and forge ahead?
For women, we can sometimes be our own worst enemies and may need to get out of our own way. The role I was taking with OneAmerica was fundamentally the same as position with VOYA, it just needed to be built out. I knew I could do that. Recently, I was promoted to an officer with more responsibility. I knew I needed to jump in quickly, talk with people, learn OneAmerica’s business model and gain support. My advice is to not sit back and wait for someone to tell you what to do. Also, as women we need to get rid of hedging statements that produce doubt, not in your own mind, but those hearing you. Terms like, “I think” or “perhaps” should be replaced with confidence. Don’t be afraid to share what you know.
I’m sure you have left long-time friends and family behind. How are you keeping in touch?
I was fortunate that when I was making the decision to move, both of my sons were at a point of transition in their lives. My oldest had just completed five years in the military and my youngest was in the midst of changing his college major. With that, they were both willing to come with me! I would have still made the same decision had they not, but it would have been much harder.
I learned early on to keep in touch with friends and family as I have made a couple of moves, from Des Moines to Seattle, to Hartford and now Indianapolis. My friends, family and I choose to stay connected, although sometimes it is an effort. A piece of advice, don’t feel guilty for what you can’t do by not being with them. Simply, make the relationships that are important a priority.
What obstacles have you had to overcome and how do you measure that against the rewards of a great career?
The organization that I am with now is celebrating its 140th year in the financial services industry and has roots that are very traditional. As an insurance company, they began at a point in time where the primary workforce was male and the culture was very conservative. The great thing is that I was fortunate to join the firm at the beginning of a huge organizational shift – both with culture and the strategic direction of the business. While some of those conservative ideals still linger, I work with leaders who embrace new ideas. I am empowered to break through traditionalism and challenged to make a difference. It is exciting for me to work with a firm that is building for the future and to see the impact that I am having. Others have come to offer support and share appreciation in the difference that I am making. Most of all, I love the opportunity to mentor others knowing that change is hard, but well worth the risk!!
What final advice would you give to our fellow ladies?
- Set your fears aside and just do it. Be brave!
- Set priorities. Don’t feel guilt over what you can’t do.
- Explore opportunities; just keep taking the next step!