Rachel Leader, Johnson Financial Group

IB’s Professional of the Week is the premier way to meet Dane County’s professionals. This week features Rachel Leader, employee benefits consultant, Johnson Financial Group.
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What are the most challenging and rewarding aspects of your job and why?

The most rewarding aspect of my role is at its core helping people — helping our clients provide great benefits to their employees and helping their employees understand those benefits. It’s incredibly rewarding to see employees have their aha! moment on how the benefits protect their health and financial wellness. We just had a client’s employee have that aha! moment with the financial gymnastics they could do with an HSA and you could see on their face that it all made more sense. The most challenging aspect is staying up to date on all of the legislative changes and helping our clients understand how it impacts their workforce. Every employer is different, so being able to boil down complicated legislation to the quick and simple “here’s what you need to know” is challenging, but is also so crucial and necessary.

Who do you look up to or admire in business and why?

Michael Johnson from the Boys & Girls Club of Dane County. He is able to engage the community in such a meaningful way to help one another. I’ve heard many people in our community say something along the lines of, “I want to help where I can, but I don’t know what is needed or how to go about it,” and I think Michael does a great job answering those questions to prompt people to action. Most of his posts are short and easy with opportunities to help; two that stuck out from this past winter were asking for help shoveling sidewalks or helping sponsor a family for Christmas.

What has been the high point of your career so far?

The high point of my career so far would be making the jump from a service role into a consulting role. I am so grateful and thankful that I had the opportunity within JFG to make that shift. While I’ve always been an outgoing person, sales and B2B consulting is a new skill set and it was a big jump out of my comfort zone professionally. It’s a great feeling knowing that I have a team surrounding me that believes in and supports me.

Thinking back on your career, what advice would you give your 21-year-old self?

Ironically, this year marks 10 years in insurance for me. I started out as a bright eyed, naive 21 year old, so I’ve been putting a lot of thought into all that’s happened in the last 10 years. If there was any advice I wished I had known, it would be to really focus on what I can control and put my efforts into those things rather than putting emphasis on things that are fully out of my control. I could have saved myself a lot of anxiety and stress if I took that to heart years earlier!

What would you say are the best things about living and working in Dane County?

The best things about living and working in Dane County would have to be the blend of urban and rural that Dane County has. It’s so incredibly unique, and specifically (in no particular order): the downtown farmers market, the terrace, the arboretum, and the plethora of local family-owned businesses. I’m so glad I can help support fellow community members’ businesses rather than national chains.

Do you have any secret talents or abilities that people would be surprised to discover?

Secret talents or abilities, hmm … I guess not many people I know professionally would know that I’m a puzzle nerd at heart. I love word and number puzzles — crosswords and sudokus are some of my favorite go-to hobbies!

What are your guilty pleasures?

When I think of guilty pleasures, I think of food. I’m a big fan of cream cheese puffs or crab Rangoon of almost all varieties (I do have strong feelings about what makes a good one), and my favorite local ones are Chin’s and Ha Long Bay. All that to say, when I found a TikTok creator (@michael_winner21) who has a series called “Rangoon Review with a Jew,” it quickly became one of my favorite things about TikTok and I’m looking forward to going to Chicagoland to try his favorites!

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