${ company.text }

Be the first to rate this company   Not rated   ${ company.score } stars     ${ company.industry}     ${ company.headquarters}


${ getArticleTitle(article) }


${ tag.display_name }


${ getCommunityPostText(community_post) }


${ contributor.full_name }

${ contributor.short_bio }

Jobs For Employers

Join InHerSight's growing community of professional women and get matched to great jobs and more!

Sign up now

Already have an account? Log in ›

  1. Blog
  2. Partners in Diversity
  3. June 10, 2024

At This Financial Services Company, Career Growth & Development Come First

How managers and learning opportunities elevated their careers in the finance industry

Northwestern Mutual women's affiliate group
Photo courtesy of Northwestern Mutual

This article is part of InHerSight's Partners in Diversity series. Discover companies partnering with InHerSight to better support women in the workplace.

Many of the boons of working in the finance industry are easy to spot: high earning potential, comprehensive benefits packages, flexible work arrangements, financial security, and more. These perks are listed on careers pages or here on InHerSight. But what about the other positives going on behind the scenes, like support for gender equity and women’s career advancement? For that, you must dig a little deeper. 

Rated most highly for Maternity and Adoptive Leave, Flexible Work Hours, and Equal Opportunities for Women and Men, Northwestern Mutual is a financial services company that’s been helping people achieve financial security for more than 165 years. And while pursuing that mission, they’ve also been elevating and evolving women’s careers in dynamic and strategic ways. 

We spoke to two employees at Northwestern Mutual, Monique Meese and Allison Malone, about their experiences with learning, development, leadership, and culture at the company. Hear directly from them how the organization has helped them grow in remarkable ways.

What do you do at Northwestern Mutual?

Monique Meese, senior data management specialist: I started in March 2021, and I am currently a senior data management specialist. I work in the Data Governance department of the Core Data & Analytics division, where we are responsible for organizing and cataloging all the enterprise’s data. Our goal is to make Northwestern Mutual’s data safe for our clients, employees, and financial representatives. 

Allison Malone, assistant director of distribution performance: I was recently promoted to assistant director of distribution performance, and my main focus is on new financial representatives' growth and development. I support five network offices in our southern and western regions. I work with leaders on their development plan, analyze how the representatives are performing in their unit, and look at the leadership and culture within these offices. I started in 2012 as a life insurance underwriter, and I was in that role for six years. I was then tapped for a rotational opportunity, in which I would be part of a project team that supported one of our product launches. From there, I was promoted to a consultant for our new business solutions team. During this role, I was a liaison between the tech partners and the business as we enhanced the underwriting experience. After that, I moved to the national training program team, in which I was able to leverage the knowledge that I gained from being in new business, while also being able to understand the new sales cycle, in which I was able to train new financial representatives. 

In your career, what resources or support have been most impactful for your learning and development? 

Monique: Before Northwestern Mutual (NM), I had worked for only one company in my career. After coming here, I realized how different the corporate culture was—in a great way. By ensuring that I can dedicate 20 percent of my time to learning new skills and exposing me to employee resource groups (ERGs), NM helped me to prioritize my learning and development. I got involved with the mentorship program for the Women’s ERG and the African American ERG, which allowed me to learn about what challenges women had experienced and learn tips and tricks that they wish they had known sooner. Through this mentorship program, I was also able to create meaningful relationships, network with other NM employees, and learn more about other opportunities that could contribute to my learning and development. 

Allison: The biggest impact to my learning and development has been the support of my colleagues who have shared new opportunities and connected me with new people. These colleagues have guided me on how to seek out my own opportunities, build relationships, and what to be mindful of as I continue to advance my career. 

I've been fortunate to have managers that are incredibly supportive of my growth and development. During my rotation, my manager presented me with a new opportunity that aligned with my goals. She saw the value that I brought to her team and wanted to see me go forward with my career at Northwestern Mutual, even though this meant I wouldn’t be on her team anymore. This new job was a great fit because of what I learned during my previous roles, which made the transition into this new job easy and efficient. 

How does the culture at Northwestern Mutual foster a sense of learning and development?

Monique: The sense of openness and the promotion of learning is what makes NM’s culture stand out to me. Every time I have a one-on-one with my manager, she asks me, “What can I do to help you? What opportunities can I give you to get to where you want to go?” The continuous need to grow is a huge part of our culture. At previous positions, I was too scared to let my manager know I was interested in a different role at the company. At NM, it’s totally different, they really want us to grow and learn new skills to get us to where we want to be in our career. 

A great example from my own personal experience is how I applied for a position that I didn’t get because I needed more strategic experience. I turned around and asked my manager if there were any projects that I could be put on to get more strategic experience, and she responded with, “Absolutely!” Her ability to help me with my professional development is something that I had never experienced before, and this has really helped me understand how ingrained learning and development is within NM’s culture. 

Allison: The ERGs have been instrumental in providing different learning opportunities for employees. By being able to participate in different learning courses, mentorship programs, and being on the African American ERG’s leadership team, I’ve been able to expand my network. Personally, I believe that people learn and develop by meeting new people, which is why I love that Northwestern Mutual really encourages people to take advantage of our networking culture. This has provided me with an easier way to build relationships with people over the years. 

Which learning and development benefits at Northwestern Mutual do you find to be most compelling?

Monique: There have been different workshops and classes that helped me work on my professional development skills by teaching me how to promote myself, build my brand, and develop a personalized elevator pitch. If you want to learn something, I can guarantee you there’s probably a course or learning series on it. NM gives their employees many opportunities to learn something new, which I have taken advantage of and would encourage others to do the same. 

Allison: I had the opportunity to be a part of multiple incredible programs. I participated in an internal leadership program that joins employees with executive leaders for the purpose of visibility and opportunity, VIBE, an internal program that is meant to foster connections that strengthen inclusion and career success for Black women at Northwestern Mutual, various coaching opportunities, and reverse mentoring programs, all of which have been instrumental in aiding my development.  

How can leaders and managers be more supportive of women’s career development?

Monique: While there are always rockstars on each team, I think leaders and managers need to be thoughtful about the opportunities they give all team members to excel and work on their skills with new projects. Our leaders are encouraged to be talent multipliers by designating time to let people learn and focus on new projects. As a result, they help their employees grow professionally and achieve their goals. 

Allison: I think it’s important for leadership to be curious. It’s important to ask questions, and not assume that every woman wants the same thing. It’s important for leadership to take the time to ask women what their needs are because this isn’t going to be the same for each person. Also, leaders need to be very intentional about the project work that they assign. Development might be limited if new opportunities are not presented to them, so leaders should be assigning projects that align with that person’s goals. If a project isn’t available, leaders could also think about whom they could connect that person with. Lastly, it’s important for leaders to understand that everyone’s life outside of Northwestern Mutual is different. Whether that person is a woman or not, the leader needs to be flexible with the support their team may need to be successful depending on the different things that are going on in their life. 

How can women better advocate for their own growth and development at work?

Monique: Although advocating for yourself is important, I would say that it is even more important to advocate for others. Even though NM is a competitive company, women helping other women, no matter what level you are on, give us the ability to navigate any professional challenges that we may come across. To advocate for their own growth and development, women need to be brave and ask questions. It’s important for your voice to be heard. I also think it’s important for women to embrace diversity. Our different backgrounds are what make us special, and this is how we learn from each other. 

Allison: Share what’s important to you, because people can’t advocate and support you if they don’t know what you’re interested in, especially when leaders are having conversations that you might not be a part of. In my own experience, I made it known to my leaders that I was interested in other opportunities, which led me to being tapped for a new role. If you feel like you aren’t getting what you need from your leader, say something. They might not know there’s a gap if you don’t tell them. By having these tough conversations, women are able to own their career and advocate for themselves. If you don’t know how to start these conversations, speak to a peer, speak to someone you trust, because you want to be intentional about how you are bringing that conversation forward with your leader. I feel blessed because I have a trusted group of people who I can confide in and seek advice, and this safe space has allowed me to grow and develop professionally. On paper, it might look like I had the perfect path, but it was far from that. By overcoming obstacles and other barriers, I learned how to advocate for myself to further my development here at Northwestern Mutual.

Northwestern Mutual

Northwestern Mutual has been helping people and businesses achieve financial security for 165 years. Rated most highly for Maternity and Adoptive Leave, Flexible Work Hours, and Equal Opportunities for Women and Men, they receive top-notch reviews like this one from a very satisfied rater: “Northwestern Mutual offers fantastic growth opportunities and leadership really listens to its employees. They are transparent in their communication and offer a very inclusive and welcoming environment.” Click to explore Northwestern Mutual's ratings, benefits, and open roles now!

Learn more ›

About our expert${ getPlural(experts) }

About our author${ getPlural(authors) }

Share this article

Don't Miss Out

Create a free account to get unlimited access to our articles and to join millions of women growing with the InHerSight community

Looks like you already have an account!
Click here to login ›

Invalid email. Please try again!

Sign up with a social account or...

If you already have an account, click here to log in. By signing up, you agree to InHerSight's Terms and Privacy Policy


You now have access to all of our awesome content

Looking for a New Job?

InHerSight matches job seekers and companies based on millions of workplace ratings from women. Find a job at a place that supports the kinds of things you're looking for.