Staffing & Culture | 03.22.23
Standing Up for Women: Reflecting on the Women's Networking Breakfast
by: Wendy Galante
With that profound quote from poet Maya Angelou, Jane-ellen Porter opened the 2023 BISA Women’s Networking Breakfast and set the scene for an inspiring gathering.
Networking, community and celebration are the hallmarks of this annual event, which has grown in attendance and popularity since the inaugural brunch hosted by Jacinda Norvell and LeAnn Rummel. From that initial group of 30 women to this year’s record-setting 170 attendees, it’s become a highly sought-after event.
This year Denise Leonhard, former GM of Venmo and a member of Symetra’s board of directors, took the stage and shared the importance of having mentors or sponsors in your professional life. She encouraged us to be brave, specific about our goals and authentically ourselves. She reminded us that if you got that seat at the table, we earned it.
Denise provided an excellent perspective of what it’s like being a woman in a male-dominated industry, and provided tips that helped her succeed past the many obstacles she experienced:
Build relationships with people that you know would make an impact on your career — that’s how many of the opportunities came to Denise. She leaned into what is called “industry sponsorship” — consisting of people who have your back and will have you as the first to come to their mind in an effort to help support your career.
You have to do great work, and you need to make it known that you’re doing a great job. People don’t necessarily notice unless you call your successes out yourself. Advocating for yourself makes for a positive reflection on your skillset and showcases your efforts to maintain your professional desires.
Ask for help. Although it may be uncomfortable for many, it shows vulnerability that other people can respond to. If you tell people your goals and ask for help on how to get there, people will be willing to assist you and can see around corners you can’t. It’s important to figure out who your “buddies” are and ask them for help — sometimes we get nervous and caught in our own heads, but for Denise, it really became that simple and a major aid in her success.
Thought-provoking conversations and questions resurfaced over breakfast, including, “What would you tell your younger self that you know now that you didn’t know then?”
Jacinda Norvell, senior managing director, wealth brokerage sales execution director at Truist Wealth, recalled the first event and how many women carry their work and responsibility from job to job instead of letting go to move on to learn the next thing. “I would tell my younger self, ‘To move on or up, you need to share your knowledge and teach others so that you can expand and grow in other areas.’”
Some of Jacinda’s takeaways from the event included:
Be Brave — “If you’ve earned the right to be in the meeting, then be in the meeting and own it,” she reflected.
Be the woman that helps bring up other women. “Be a leader, a teacher and an advocate for other women on their paths.”
The most exciting thing about being a woman in the industry, according to Jacinda, is that “there are now others in the room and many more in their early careers, so it feels like we are moving in the right direction. Note how many more women we have attending the convention! From an industry standpoint — the experience, skill set and the diversity of thought brought by women in the workplace is being appreciated more.”
Dayna Cerrone, VP and head of Symetra’s Retirement Bank and Wirehouse Channels, was one of the many newcomers this year. She observed: “We bond by being part of something greater, by looking inward and reaching out to others to create inspiring and long-lasting connections by lifting each other up.”
Symetra is honored to have been the exclusive sponsor of the women’s networking event for the past five years. Working in lockstep with BISA’s board and the DE&I Committee, our goal is always to be thoughtful in our preparation. We recognize and celebrate diverse backgrounds that add to our collective experience and success, and it’s inspiring to see that same sentiment shared within the industry.
About Wendy Galante
Wendy Galante is a Relationship Manager for Symetra’s Retirement Division. Having been in the industry for over 30 years, Wendy has a keen understanding of the needs of her firms, their financial professionals, and she partners with them to deliver strategic retirement solutions to their clients. This collaborative approach has enabled Wendy to build longstanding relationships. Prior to joining Symetra in 2014, she worked for AIG as a Regional Vice President in the Pacific Northwest and as a Senior Key Account Manager. Wendy earned a bachelor’s degree in Public Relations and Marketing from Texas Tech University in Lubbock, Texas. She also serves on the BISA Diversity, Equity & Inclusion Committee. Wendy is currently based in Dallas, Texas where she enjoys spending time with family.
About Dayna Cerrone
Dayna Cerrone is the Vice President for Symetra’s Retirement Division. Dayna leads Symetra’s Relationship Management team as well as the National Wholesaling organization for the Bank & Wire Channels.
Dayna is a veteran financial professional with 32+ years of industry experience and joined Symetra in 2013. She spent her early years with Symetra “carrying the bag” then moving into Divisional leadership to lead the Western Division to success. Her recent promotion to lead the Bank and Wire channel is a perfect fit for Dayna as she understands our partner needs, our employees & most of all, the Customer. Dayna also worked for other well-known companies such as Transamerica, AIG & American Express. Her background includes time as a Financial Professional, External Wholesaler, and even a Corporate Sales Trainer. She is a positive leader who rolls up her sleeves and won’t expect her team to do anything she wouldn’t do.
About Jacinda Norvell
Jacinda Norvell is a Senior Managing Director and the Wealth Brokerage Sales Execution Director for Truist Wealth and Trust Investment Services, Inc. offering over 25 years of financial services experience. Prior to joining SunTrust, now Truist, in 1997, Jacinda obtained both retail brokerage and institutional investment experience at The Robinson Humphrey Company and Invesco.
Having worked in various management roles at SunTrust, now Truist, Jacinda currently leads sales enablement efforts for our broker/dealer focused on Advisor recruiting and retention, business planning and execution for Managers and Advisors, and Development and DEI initiatives.
Jacinda previously served as the President of the Atlanta Association of Women in Securities and as a board member of the Georgia Securities Association. Formerly a Purpose Ambassador, she now serves as a Truist INSPIRE Program Mentor. Jacinda currently serves on the Board of Directors of the Bank Insurance and Securities Association and was formerly the chair of the Diversity Committee.