Field Manager, Retirement and Financial Education at INPRS
I first learned about WIPN … when it appeared on my LinkedIn feed. I reviewed the website and didn’t see anyone who looked like me on the board and wasn’t sure if it was for me. So, I followed the organization for awhile before becoming a member. Once the Indianapolis chapter was formed, I joined and I am so glad that I did. One of the best things about WIPN is the networking opportunities and the solid content that we have access to by attending webinars of chapters across the nation.
How do you see WIPN affecting positive change in your career or industry? WIPN has its finger on the pulse of what is happening for women in this industry. By providing access to valuable content, exceptional support in mentor groups, having the difficult conversations, and networking locally and nationally, WIPN is building a force of highly skilled women that can truly affect change. I feel privileged to be a part of it.
Prior to joining WIPN, how difficult or easy was it to find networking/mentoring opportunities in the retirement industry? I’ve been involved with many organizations throughout my career. What I have gained from my year-long membership with WIPN is amazing. Networking and mentoring with this group has been very easy. Shortly after joining, I sent an email through the website inquiring about small mentor groups. A short time later, I was placed in a group with 4 other women and two professional coaches. From just a few group meetings, I gained new skills that I helped me produce real results.
How important is it for you to be a role model for the upcoming generations of women in the retirement industry? Is WIPN a force for change? I think WIPN can be a driving force. The more women we bring together to address the inequalities that we experience in the industry, the more effective we can be in collectively pushing for change.
My favorite quote is …“When they go low, we go high,” by Michelle Obama. My path to a successful career as an African American woman in this industry has not been without its challenges. I have not let it deter me from my mission of doing the work and doing it well.
Monica Elvira, AIF®
Vice President, Northeast Account Manager-DCIO Retirement Sales at PIMCO
How important is it for you to be a role model for the upcoming generations of women in the retirement industry? In a word, super-important as there are women who have been amazing role models for me. In exchange, I want to provide my personal experience and knowledge which can influence another woman by having a different perspective or possibly additional options. It’s best when you can be guided down the same path with additional resources and the strength of your WIPN peers to achieve your personal aspirations.
The best things about being involved in WIPN are the amazing, successful women who want to help introduce you in expanding your professional network.
What has been your most rewarding accomplishment in your career? My most significant accomplishment was in building out a strategic relationship management team for Corporate bond projects after Sept. 11, 2001. Our office was destroyed and we had no files in a disaster recovery warehouse and were dealing with deep sorrow for our lost employees and Sept. 11th victims.
Is WIPN a force for change? Yes, not only for generations of women but for all genders.
My first job in the retirement industry was offering retirement solutions to private client individuals. My most memorable experience was having coffee with Diana Ross from whom I learned to value “emotional intelligence” and my interactions with John McEnroe, which allowed me to instill patience and boundaries. My current job involves proactively consulting with financial advisors and plan sponsors in designing the best in class retirement solution for their employees as a trusted advisor.
My favorite quote is … “Everything you are going through is preparing you for what you asked for,” because sometimes we forget what we really desire!
Shelly Schaefer, QPFC, AIF®
Retirement Plan Consultant, Sageview Advisory Group
What has been your most rewarding accomplishment in your career? I’ll never forget it! Early in my career, I provided one-on-one meetings at a meat packaging plant during 2nd and 3rd-hour shifts. I met a young man who couldn’t read but was willing to learn more about the 401k plan. There was a rich employer match that I didn’t want him to lose out on. I found some apples and oranges in the breakroom to explain and illustrate how the employer match worked. I knew he put faith in me, and he signed up for the plan. It was such a great feeling to know that I made a difference. I still think about him from time-to-time and hope that he is on track to having a well-deserved retirement.
Is there a WIPN-inspired success story that influenced your personal or professional career? I participated in a virtual mentor circle workshop with a small group of WIPN members whom I now consider approachable and trusted friends in the retirement plan industry. Our workshop was led by Mary Lou Wattman and Cindy Horn Kennedy and focused on lessons from the 30 Days of Coaching Workbook which consists of tools and inspiration for advancements in your career and balance in your life. I took the big adventure of creating a plan of what makes a great day and have been inspired to take control of making myself a priority. I needed to learn how to put the oxygen mask on first so that I can continue to be able to give to what’s important to me. So, I’m proud to share that I set a personal goal of time for me in my perfect day and over the past 30 days I have rode my mountain bike 10 miles each day. The next 30 days is going to include biking with a sit-up challenge. Professionally, the workshop has helped me with ideas on how to stand out, learn listening and conversation skills, and practice my elevator speech. Just last week, my director commented in front of a client and peers that I’m getting better every day. My completion of the assignments in the workbook is really paying off.
My favorite quote is … Two favorite words that I say to myself are “Rearview Mirror.” Letting go takes practice and these words are my mantra and guide. Life can be glorious when you can have moments that you finally find the courage and determination to let go of what can’t be changed. In those situations when I identify that I’m being challenged to change my reaction and myself, then I’m growing beyond the unchangeable, which changes everything.