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We're guessing you've heard of this quietly powerful lady-leader by now. If you're affiliated with the National Association of Health Underwriters (NAHU), you may have even heard her speak publicly about some of her personal struggles.

Susan Rider currently serves as Vice President of Sales & Operations for Preventia Group. And for the 12 years prior, Susan worked for a local brokerage firm focusing her efforts on advising employers as it relates to Human Capital Strategies & Employee Benefits. Under Susan’s tenure she helped employers align their human capital and total reward strategies for their future workforce.

Susan is actively involved in the National Association of Health Underwriters, and is the incoming National Professional Development Chair. Susan was recently appointed to Governor Holcomb’s Indiana Department of Insurance (IDOI) CE Advisory Council and continues to serve on ISAHU’s legislative team. She has received multiple awards, most significant – Susan was recognized in the Hot 100 Agents by Insurance Business Magazine and 25 Most Influential Women in Benefit Advising by Employee Benefit Advisor. Susan received her Master’s degree from the University of Indianapolis in Strategic Leadership and Design.

We asked this fearless climber to share some of the same vulnerabilities from the stage here with us at the Empowered Community...

For me, my biggest struggle was growing up with learning disabilities and ADD. I was diagnosed late, and it impacted my trajectory until my 10th grade year. My teacher thought outside the box and pushed me to just “learn with a twist”.

I have always been an effective communicator verbally and in written form, but comprehension was a challenge for me. By simply moving my tests to verbal ones, I became an A student – changing my life course for the better.

When I began my career in healthcare as a CNA, an EMT and then trained to become a surgical tech, these did not require a degree. These were hands-on learning opportunities that allowed me to thrive. Unfortunately, shortly after marrying my best friend I was injured in the operating room – resulting in a spinal fusion.

That curve-ball forced me to go back to school as an adult. I went down the General Studies route with a focus in organizational leadership (HR certificate) and again, I had to go through a process of working with my teachers to find alternative ways to succeed with testing. I was a full-time employee serving as an account manager, a youth group advisor, serving on my local health underwriters board and going to school 6 hours a semester in the evenings. My support system made up of my husband, personal friends, and NAHU family, got me through this crazy time where there seemed to be no balance; just stress, exhaustion and tears.

But in 2015, I completed my master’s degree in Strategic Leadership. The timing was in line with an agency retirement so I was able to swoop in and take the Human Capital Strategies division to the next level. Upon graduating, both IUPUI and UIndy (where I received my 2 degrees) asked me if I was interested in joining their adjunct faculty. Of course, I said yes. Why wouldn’t I give back to the institutions that contributed to my career trajectory? Dedication, perseverance, and the desire to become something greater than where I was heading really made the journey even more rewarding. Now, the ability to mentor and teach the next generation of Human Resource professionals far exceeds my expectations.

I have had so many amazing mentors along the way – many who “took a chance” on me because they saw potential. Do not turn down opportunities. Network with people who authentically believe in you. Align yourself with organizations that you believe in, are passionate about, that help you become a better person, and where you can make a difference leveraging your strengths.

If you want something bad enough, go get it. Don't let anything stop your journey. You will always find a way to achieve your goals, they just might occur on a slightly different timeline or path than you originally thought.

I am still learning every day – whether through webinars related to my job function, leadership meetings or even from my students. Listen to others regarding your blind spots. Work with an executive coach. Do not stop reading. Do not stop networking. Disrupt the status quo. Those that believe in you will help you get you to your desired role.

Recently, I began a new career in a new industry. I have the good fortune of working for an organization aligns with my passion to help people with lifestyle, mental health and food insecurity issues get access to care when and where they need it.

Success does not come easy; it takes hard work. Everyone learns differently, I simply “learn with a twist.”


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