I grew up in a St. Paul suburb with seven brothers and sisters. My siblings and I shared paper routes, and when I was 15, I waitressed at a hamburger and ice cream restaurant. Through these jobs, I learned about earning and saving money, as well as the importance of providing customers with great service.

I majored in accounting at the University of St. Thomas in Minnesota after a high school accounting class piqued my interest. I took the C.P.A. exam while at my first job and later obtained a master's degree in taxation. My willingness to take risks and go against the grain has shaped my career. Most people start in public accounting and move to private industry accounting roles, but I did the opposite. I worked in the audit and tax areas for various organizations and then my career took a different turn.

After 10 years I left accounting to join Dain Bosworth, a predecessor of RBC Wealth Management. I took a risk, coming in as project manager for activity-based costing—a new, unproven role that involved cost allocation and profitability analysis. I remember explaining the goals for our project to the head of the private client division, only to have him respond that it sounded like the stupidest thing he'd ever heard. Several months later I gave a presentation in a director's meeting on what we had accomplished, and he said that now he saw the value. He publicly endorsed the project and encouraged everyone to work with me. I could not have scripted that any better.

Until eight years ago I had always worked with functional groups, such as accounting, legal and compliance. Even when I was at RBC Capital Markets, I was director of finance and administration. I left to become chief operating officer for RBC Wealth Management, but when we combined our two broker-dealers that role was to move to New York. John Taft, the CEO of RBC Wealth Management - U.S., asked me to stay in Minneapolis to run Wealth Management Services, but I wasn't sure I had the necessary experience for this position. He said I wasn't looking at it correctly; my experience was quite relevant. I took the job, and it has been one of the best positions ever. I've enjoyed the opportunity to work with advisors and clients and services employees firsthand. Then almost two years ago, I added the title of Head of International Wealth - USA. In this role I work with private bankers and international advisors that serve clients around the world, but primarily in Latin America.

My passion is helping women in financial services grow their practices and serve more female clients. My role as executive sponsor for our U.S. Women's Association of Financial Advisors is an important part of that. Ruth Sinn, a teammate on my college basketball team at University of St. Thomas, now coaches that team. She and I created a mentoring program for the players to help position them for success in life. We connect them with working women who can help them with their career goals.

As Told To Pat Olsen