Navigating career and life with a strong mentor

March 25, 2022

Nine months into my first professional job, a vice president at my firm approached me about a career advancement. Little did I know that accepting the offer would mean working closely with someone who saw me through many personal and professional transitions over nearly 17 years.

When I moved into an associate financial planner role, Deb Groezinger took me under her wing and spent countless hours training me for the position. We worked very closely together, as she taught me financial planning from the ground up, and she later became my supervisor.

At first, she would talk me through her thought processes. Then it evolved to working on a plan myself and reviewing it with her. Eventually, I was able to prepare plans on my own and feel confident in my abilities. I didn’t realize how much I had learned until she started asking me to consult with her on more advanced strategies.

Leran more about Katie Then, Client Service & Operations Manager

Steady source of support

Once I had settled into my role as a financial planner, Deb checked in with me often to make sure I felt fulfilled and to talk about how to advance to the next step in my career. She always encouraged me, helped me understand my strengths, and pushed me to challenge myself and move out of my comfort zone.

Deb is the one who steered me toward the operations side of the business after noticing I had talent and interest in that area. When we talked about the future of my career, she reinforced that I had an aptitude for organization, planning, and problem-solving, all key skills for operations work. She motivated me and made me excited to change paths slightly.

My current role, leading client service and operations at Laurel Wealth Planning, is the best of both worlds. I continue to serve client while also overseeing operations. If not for Deb kindling this operations spark in me, I might not be in this role today.

During my many life transitions over the past 17 years, Deb was a steady source of support. I got married, had three kids, and got several promotions, and recently moved to Laurel Wealth Planning. She was always genuinely interested in my life personally and professionally and supportive during all those transitions.

Instilling values and skills

Many of the skills I use daily in my job were honed under Deb’s watch.

It’s not always easy to build rapport and trust with someone the first time you meet them, but she had a knack for connecting with people. Watching her as we conducted meetings together, I learned how to navigate different relationships.

She instilled in me the importance of hard work. Part of this is double-checking work — something Deb stressed. To this day, I still set complicated or important projects aside and come back to double check them with fresh eyes. Deb showed me the importance of working ahead to allow time for this important step, which improves accuracy, accounts for details, and assures me that I’ve completed the work to the best of my ability.

I also value problem-solving because of Deb’s example. While I might not always have the answer at hand, I can work through a situation to find it. Instead of needing to be handed an answer, I dig and figure it out myself — a skill that has served me well.

Paying it forward

Deb invested a lot in me and helped make me who I am today. I didn’t realize how much impact she had on me until I was a little older, but I now wonder where I would be today if I hadn’t met her. I’m thankful every day for the effort, time, and attention Deb gave me.

I aspire to one day be a mentor to someone else, just as Deb was to me all of these years.

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