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"What does it mean to be you with us?" - Sarah Oxley

Relationship Manager, Group Sales and Employee Benefits Solutions

Minnesota has always been home. My parents live here and my husband’s family lives here. Between the two families, his siblings and mine, we are the proud aunt and uncle to nine nieces and nephews!

I’m originally from Richfield but my husband and I moved to Woodbury. We both work for Securian Financial on a hybrid schedule. When COVID hit, because we both started working from home, we needed more space than our 700-square-foot apartment. I know there are pictures of me floating around somewhere working from my closet floor as it was our only closed-door space to take meetings. We lived downtown at that time, and we could walk to work. Now that we’ve moved to the suburbs we have a longer commute, but we have more space. Plus, we have a baby girl coming in July!

My family means everything to me. I was raised in a traditional household with a stay-at-home mom and my dad was the breadwinner. That’s how they wanted it. We valued that and it worked really well for all of us. But at the same time, I wanted to break the mold and have a career of my own. My sister has a career and children and she’s making it work. Actually, it was the model I grew up with that inspired me to take a different path.

I’m the youngest, with a sister and brother. I went to Richfield High School and then St. Thomas University, a private Catholic school close to home. There was a tradition in my family of attending St. Thomas. We lived in a faith-based household. Student council, student government, sports and volunteer work kept me busy. Being involved was something I inherited from my parents. My dad is a high achiever. My mom and dad were both actively involved in our activities at school and in the community always motivating us and being supportive. We knew what was expected of us but not in an unhealthy way.

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I graduated in 2013 with a degree in economics and marketing management and went to work for a large healthcare company in talent acquisition. My role was repetitive, and I felt like one small cog, on one wheel, on one car, on a mega superhighway. I was there for about a year. I think it works for a lot of people, but it just wasn’t the right culture for me.

Transitioning to life at Securian Financial

In February 2014, I was hired into an entry-level job at Securian as National Accounts Coordinator within Retail Production Distribution. I was recruited by Securian, and I had friends from college who worked here. The campus has that collegial feel to it. Everyone’s smiling and saying “hi.” There are enough people that you know and enough that you don't know that allows you to meet new people and learn other parts of the business.

My current job title is Strategic Enrollment Partner Manager. In my role within Employee Benefits Solutions, I work with sales and service partners through relationships with our strategic benefit platforms to support our employer clients and their employees. I work with teams both internally and externally. I would compare it to a quarterback position. Every day is different and that’s a good thing. I do better in a fluid environment.

I’m in learning mode right now. I’ve made a conscious effort to think about where the gaps in my knowledge are and narrow those gaps. I’m in a role now where I am a leader of people with some individual contribution responsibilities, so it's a good mix of leading and directly impacting outcomes.

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Growth can come from a lateral move. There can be pressure on women to have it all laid out, to have this certain job in mind. But that doesn’t work for everyone, and you might miss something along the way.

My experience as a woman in the corporate world

I would caution women coming into the working world not to think so much of climbing the ladder as this being more of a jungle gym. There can be pressure on women to have it all laid out, to have this certain job in mind. But that doesn’t work for everyone, and you might miss something along the way. If you had asked me ten years ago, I would never have thought I would be in this job. The best next step could be sideways. Growth can come from a lateral move and growth is what the focus should be. I’ve made lateral moves and I think that exposure has helped me be successful in this job.

Another lesson I have learned, is maintaining a good balance between work and home. Some women feel pressure to be all things to all people; to solve everyone’s problems. That mindset is still there, and women are more vulnerable to burnout because of that. It’s a dance between home life bringing value to work life and work life bringing value to home life. I’m analytical and I over-process sometimes. Being the kind of person I am, I thought I needed to be that go-to person and get up to speed as quickly as possible. I’m not yet that in this role, and I’m learning to be OK with that; OK with the gray, the ambiguity and constant learning. I don’t know what I’m walking into every day, but I thrive on the variety in this role.

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Networking with other women is important. There are endless opportunities here at Securian Financial and networking with different departments is a great thing to do. I’ve found out a lot about Securian this way. There are departments and jobs I never knew existed. Also, a lot of women have mentored me along the way and I’ve had peer champions. I want to return the favor by coaching and championing other women through their careers.

I might change my mind about it later, but for now, I like having a career. I value women in leadership. There should be diversity in leadership, but it’s not there yet. Part of it is that this is a financial services organization where historically more male leaders. We’re seeing this shift in the dynamic to diverse leadership. We're hiring talent that better represents the communities, clients and customers we serve which makes us all better. I think Securian is making the effort and it’s a real effort. I feel supported here as a woman.

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As our organization works to create a culture of inclusivity and belonging we’ve launched a series of stories sharing what it means to be you with us at Securian.

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Sarah Oxley is a Securian Financial employee and therefore has a financial connection to Securian Financial. Her statement was given freely.

DOFU 3-2023