Member Spotlight

WIPN October 2021 Member Spotlight

Erin (Vollmuth) Wikander

Director, Defined Contribution Consultant

BlackRock

What changes do you hope to see for women in the retirement industry in the next 5 – 10 years? While women have made great strides in our industry, I look forward to a future where men and women are true equals in corporate America. It’s organizations like WIPN that will help us continue to achieve that goal! It’s extremely important for us to recruit strong females to join our industry, inspire each other to achieve our professional goals and promote diversity, equity and inclusion throughout the workforce!

How did you find out about WIPN? And, how would you describe WiPN to a peer or colleague? I found out about WIPN at a national industry conference several years ago. It was so refreshing to hear stories from my peers on a panel who had overcome similar obstacles to what I was experiencing at work. WIPN fosters an environment where women feel comfortable sharing with one another. Knowing that I have the support of my fellow female peers in the industry has helped me overcome challenges and has given me the confidence to explore opportunities to advance my career.

Is WIPN a force for change? If so, how? The retirement industry has certainly evolved and there are more and more women serving the retirement community. Whether you are a female service provider or an advisor, we all share similar experiences throughout our careers.  I have enjoyed meeting so many incredible women across the network. The more we can continue to share our experiences and support one another, the faster we will advance and reach our personal career goals. This is why I enjoy being a part of such a great network of females – together we are a force of change!

How important is it for you to be a role model for the upcoming generations of women in the retirement industry? It’s extremely important that we continue to support and mentor women.  I am fortunate to have several important female role models that have helped to shape my career. My role models are women who climbed the corporate ladder in a male-dominated industry. They taught me early on that it’s important to trust your knowledge. As women, we often doubt ourselves and they taught me to have the confidence in my knowledge through preparation.  I hope to help other women advance their careers by encouraging them to have confidence. It’s important to help lift each other up to reach our highest potential!

My favorite quote is … “I think I can, I think I can.” One of my favorite books as a child was The Little Engine That Could by Watty Piper because it shows the power of optimism and hard work.

Erin Wikander

Carol Dogans, CFS, CRPS, AIF ®

Retirement Planning Consultant

Vice President, Wealth Management Group at American National Bank

What changes do you hope to see for women in the retirement industry in the next 5 – 10 years?  I like this question!  I would like to see equal pay for all race of women and LGBTQ+ community.  I would also like to see more women in the retirement industry.  I am saddened that we have been talking and wanting to be compensated when it should be a no brainer, when we have the same education, similar years of experience and competencies as our male counterpart for the same or similar job role.  Decade after decade equal pay is still unfair and we are still talking about it.  In the next 5 to 10 years, I hope equal pay is no longer an issue or a topic of discussion and we as a society do the right thing, so the next generation is not plagued with this issue.  My hope is to have the next generation focus on climate change and not continue to fight for a basic right like equal pay.

How did you find out about WIPN? I was a member years ago but was not as active with WIPN due to my busy schedule at the time. About a year and a half ago I was later brought back in to join by a current WIPN member, and I remember how much I enjoyed the networking opportunities with my peers.  WIPN provides great learning and networking opportunities and supports diversity and inclusion for women.

Is WIPN a force for change?  Yes, WIPN is a force for change.  When I attend a WIPN event or webinar, I feel so empowered to be amongst such strong, smart, professional women. When I return to my normal life, I feel so empowered to take what I have learned or someone has shared and implement those changes in my daily work and personal life.  For example, the recent DEI Summit was terrific and Kelly McDonald’s book, “It’s Time to Talk about Race a Work,” both changed the way I think and operate in work and personal life and encourages me to learn more.  I am so honored to be a part of such a wonderful organization.

How important is it for you to be a role model for the upcoming generations of women in the retirement industry? It is very important as we retire and exit the industry we need to disseminate and/or transfer all the great experiences and knowledge gained to our next generation of women, so they do not have to reinvent the wheel.

Prior to joining WIPN — how difficult was it to find mentoring opportunities in the retirement industry?  Very difficult, I have been in the retirement industry almost 30 years and when I joined this was a male-dominated industry. I had a very good male role model in the past but who later passed away due to cancer.  I still remember all the great things he taught me which has benefited me greatly in my career.

My favorite quote is … “Work and you’ll get what you need; work harder and you’ll get what you want.”  –  by Prabakran Thirumalai

Sara Enright, MSM, QKA

Director, Client Services

Ascensus

What changes do you hope to see for women in the retirement industry in the next 5 – 10 years?  I hope we are all a part of a more diverse workplace.  A place where everyone feels comfortable bringing their whole selves to work and all voices are heard and valued.

How did you find out about WIPN? And, how would you describe WIPN to a colleague?  I was introduced to WIPN when I started at Ascensus.  I was invited to an event and became a member shortly thereafter.  I would strongly recommend WIPN as an important part of growing your career.  WIPN can provide you with educational opportunities as well as networking with other women in the field either informally at events or through their mentorship program.  There are a variety of ways you can take advantage of the extensive knowledge and experience these women have and are willing to share!

How important is it for you to be a role model for the upcoming generations of women in the retirement industry?  I read once that, “If you show someone they have value and can succeed, you can transform their life.”  Every interaction matters.  I try to show women (and men) that I believe in them -even when they don’t believe in themselves.  Sometimes people need to hear that someone does.  A role model should help you to see both your potential, and ways to find  opportunities to realize that potential.   If we all think back to early in our careers, there was someone that we knew or read about that impacted our choices.  There certainly was for me and I hope that I have paid that forward for someone else.

Prior to joining WIPN — how difficult was it to find mentoring opportunities in the retirement industry?  I was lucky to have a very engaged leader early in my career.  She was passionate about development and she saw mentoring as a cornerstone of that.  She introduced me to a variety of people and helped me to create a mentoring relationship with an executive that continued to his retirement.  I’m also thankful to Ascensus who encourages mentoring relationships through formal connections as well as informal connections.

My favorite quote is …  “Courage is what it takes to stand up and speak.  Courage is also what it takes to sit down and listen.”by Winston Churchill.   I remember this from a course in college and it’s stuck with me.  I think this is one of the hardest things to learn.

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