I have had a gratifying professional journey guided by my personal values. I started my career in 1994 at Wells Fargo Bank, where I spent a decade developing the business acumen and skills that became my professional foundation.

Like many professional women, my career path came to a crossroads when I started a family. Being a stay-at-home mom was a wonderful experience and, while it did put my career on hiatus, this decision would ultimately lead me down a road of greater career success—one that I could not have imagined possible at the time.

In 1999, our family moved to Chicago for my husband’s new job. In 2001, I decided to go back to work after being home for six years. I interviewed for a position as a financial professional for AXA Advisors and was hired. It was different than anything I had done before, but it was a perfect fit for me—it was client-centric with the potential for advancement and had a lot flexibility, providing the work/life balance that was important to me.

The road back to employment was not without its challenges. I had been out of the workforce and I was in a new city where I had very few business contacts. This forced me to build my financial services practice from scratch.

After years of hard work and the good fortune to have multiple mentors at AXA Advisors—seasoned professionals who were generous with their knowledge and experience—I achieved a certain level of success and was promoted to district manager in 2005. In that role, I was responsible for recruiting, training, and developing other financial professionals, building a district of 19 professionals, 50 percent of them women.

In January 2009, I was promoted to divisional executive vice president of the Chicago branch. I now find myself in the role of leader and mentor, working with an excellent team of professionals, some who were mentors to me and crucial to my own success in the industry.

My journey has taken a couple of unexpected turns, but has led to a very rewarding career. I have worked with hundreds of people to help develop strategies to protect their financial futures, and I have helped others enter, grow, and succeed in this business. There is no greater reward than giving back what was freely given to me—mentoring others to achieve their goals.