I grew up and graduated from high school in a small town in Wyoming. Even though I had less than 50 people in my graduating class and the nearest McDonald’s was over two hours away, the benefit was that I was able to do everything – participate in sports, play in the band and engage in multiple academic groups. I loved the breadth of opportunity I experienced and the sense of belonging that a small town offered.

I attended college in South Dakota, where I worked to put myself through school. After school I moved to Las Vegas to begin my career as an accounting supervisor with GE. Acceptance into GE’s financial management program provided me the foundation that lead to various accounting and financial management roles over the next several years.

Life events can often provide the impetus for us to act on our dreams. After a significant change in my personal life, I sought out the opportunity to work overseas in GE’s global consumer finance business. Moving to Tokyo, then to Sweden, and finally to London, I experienced both personal and professional growth during my five years living abroad.

Returning to the United States with GE was pivotal for me professionally, as it opened up an opportunity to change my career path from finance to sales and marketing. There I found a passion in educating consumers and financial advisors about the importance of planning for the risks associated with retirement, including the need for long term care and the impact of Alzheimer’s disease.

Throughout my life, I have had a number of mentors encouraging me along the way. My mother is still the strongest woman I have ever known. My high school basketball coach, various teachers and managers have all contributed to the person that I have become. But mentors aren’t always our elders; as an American living in another country, I had to work harder to find informal networks. I found mentors in my peers, who were the other expatriates and consultants with whom I worked and traveled.

My experience has been that when life throws you curveballs – and it will – it’s up to you to figure out what you do with them. And that no matter where you are in life, there are always extraordinary people that you will meet and learn from along the way. Mentors are everywhere if you just look.