My HERo Journey with the Betty-Ann Heggie Womentorship Program

Andrea Hansen


 After graduating from the University of Saskatchewan with a B.Comm, my career started with a major Canadian insurance company in the group benefits industry, which led to where I am today as a Benefits Advisor and Partner at Sutton Benefits & Pension. As a benefits professional, I support employers by optimizing their group benefit & pension plans to maximize value and results. I really care for people, and I love the work that I do!  Looking back, I know why I got into the insurance and financial services world and was drawn to helping business owners. Not only were my parents’ business owners, but also my grandparents and I am so grateful to be in business with my spouse. I wouldn’t have it any other way.

All aspects of our business, our partnership, our team and how we serve our clients align with my personal mission and core values. My personal mission is to Lead with Love. Inspire Greatness in Others. Ownership aside, I believe your personal mission and core values must align with your organization's mission and values in order to be happy and achieve authentic success.

“We are all where we need to be and we are doing what we are meant to be doing”, insightful words shared by Betty-Ann Heggie. I am where I am meant to be, but where I am today did not come out with risk and deliberate choices. My path was by no means linear and my journey like everyone had many twists and turns.

Over 12 years ago I was a partner in a different firm, a wife, and a mother just having my second child. From the outside, everything looked good, but inside I was at a crossroads. My personal life was solid although adjusting to another child and in a constant state of sleep deprivation. However, I was at a crossroads in my career and business. A change was necessary to create the future I desired in building a business with my spouse, but I was resisting. Resisting out of commitment, fear, obligation, busyness, motherhood, responsibility, loyalty…there were many reasons to resist.

When the opportunity arose to join the Betty-Ann Heggie Womentorship Program, I knew I had to be part of it and joined as protégé. It was a step forward. It became very clear that I was not alone in this journey. I needed to make a change and that period of transition when we are in our early 30’s was not uncommon. Everything I was learning in the Betty-Anne Heggie Womentorship Program was helping me understand myself, my purpose, my values and the direction that I wanted to grow.

It was during the Womentorship Program, I first heard the HERo’s Journey from Rita Priestley:

“We know we are ready to grow and change when we hear the call and resist it. Hear the call and pull back. When we accept the call to adventure, we enter unchartered waters, unfamiliar territories full of challenges, tests, and trials. To prevail, we must call upon our helping allies, mentors, teachers, and our own networks of friends and colleagues. Even strangers who possess skills and wisdom. When we succeed and overcome the obstacles in our way…we return home, triumphant and transformed ready to celebrate and share our newly found skills and wisdom without community. Persist in the road of trials.”

First lesson I learned along my journey was: Know Thyself

“Knowing thyself is the most difficult task any of us faces. But until you truly know yourself, strengths and weaknesses, know what you want to do and why you want to do it, you cannot succeed in any but the most superficial sense of the word.” - Warren Bennis

One of the very first workshops was the introduction to Myers-Briggs Type Indicator with Rita Priestly and I was blown away. I was so fascinated with what I was learning about myself and all of the incredible women that were completely different than me and awesome in being their best self. It gave me such a clear understanding of my personality preferences and my strengths and how better able to communicate and reach others different than me.

There were many more amazing speakers and presenters like Heather Kuttai and Lauryn Oats, from Canadian Women for Women in Afghanistan. These women knew themselves so well, understood their purpose and they were so strong and determined. I was so inspired by them and committed to the journey to “Know Thyself”. That journey is life-long, but the Womentorship program really felt like the starting point. I was floating up to that point. Until I understood better who I was and what my definition of authentic success was, I would continue to resist the “Call”.

There was a great deal of uncertainty in moving ahead with the “Call” and that I was ready for a change. So many questions! I needed help! I relied on many others…my husband, my friends, my mom, informal mentors and other professionals. A huge resource was my mentor through the Womentorship program, Deb Young.

I remember meeting my mentor, Deb for the first time at City Perks coffee shop and attempting to feel put together with my new son Broderick in tow. In walks Deb so confident and striking. I was immediately drawn to her. There was an immediate trust and I knew our conversations were confidential. She was so open in sharing her history and challenges and my path didn’t seem so difficult. She had a “no-nonsense” and “practical” approach and I learned so much from her.

My second lesson which I learned was: Build Confidence

“Whether you think you can or you think you can’t, your right” – Henry Ford

Deb helped me build my confidence and without a doubt she believed in me. Her confident no-nonsense approach was exactly what I needed. My confidence was also growing as I participated in more of the professional development workshops and I was continuing to learn from speakers like Delee Fromm and her Bragilicous Template and Barb Stegemenn, CEO of 7 Virtues. These women were so confident and took great risks in their entrepreneurship journey and my resolve was growing. Deb and I have continued our relationship and she is a very important person in my life to this day.

I finally accept the “Call” for adventure. I made a change to join a new partnership which included my husband Tim Hansen, Jay Stark and Stuart Sutton. That chapter that ended was an experience that I am forever grateful. This next chapter, was also new beginning, but yet I felt like I returned home.

The third lesson I learned was: Be Courageous

“You will never discover new oceans unless you have the courage to lose sight of the shore.”

In the Betty-Ann Heggie Womentorship Program, I had the opportunity to meet Sakena Yacoobi (Founder and Executive Director, Afghan Institute of Learning) and the Afghan teachers. I saw the faces of Courage. It was very emotional listening to their stories and in some way I felt an obligation to these women that risked so much and were so courageous. I had so much support from helping allies and the risk I was facing was put into perspective.

When I joined the partnership at Sutton, I started without any clients. I bought a laptop and a new purple bag and set up in the lunchroom. I was scared but exhilarated. Sutton Financial Group had been in business for 20 years and the existing partners were experts in financial planning for individuals. Joining the partnership meant adding benefits and pension services for business clients, which meant new services to new clients while continuing to grow the existing financial planning business. Here we are ten years later, and our firm continues to grow beyond all my expectations. Sutton Financial Group has evolved into Sutton Wealth Planning and Sutton Benefits & Pension. The magic is in that we do it together by providing holistic financial planning, benefits and pension for driven, successful families, professionals, and businesses.

The fourth lesson I learned was: Live Grateful

“Life is not measured in time; life is measured in love, contribution, and moments of grace.” -Carly Fiorina

I rejoined the program as a Junior Womentor and eventually Womentor to share my lessons I learned and help celebrate other's experiences wherever they are on their HERo journey.

I am so grateful for all my experiences and the twists and turns. Those greatest challenges are the greatest gifts. ”Smooth Waters don’t make a skillful sailor” is one of my favourite quotes. I became a better sailor for “uncharted waters”. This pandemic was certainly uncharted waters for all of us. We don’t have to be okay with it to accept it and keep sailing ahead with confidence. With the right mindset, we can see the opportunities it has provided us to get stronger and we continue to grow and become better sailors! Being part of the Betty-Ann Heggie Womentorship program as a Protégé, Junior Womentor, and Womentor had definitely made me stronger as I believe we are all stronger together.

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