Chapter Volunteer Profile:
Julie Thelen
, Sr. Financial Accounting Analyst, Principal Financial Group in Des Moines, IA, VP of the IASA Midwest Chapter
By Chuck Gunkel, Rainmaker, Swift Print Communications LLC and Vice President Chapters – IASA

eInterpreter: What was the first IASA Chapter event you attended and what inspired you to go?
Thelen: My first IASA event was Spring of 2010. The company I was working for at the time had a group of people who went, so I just tagged along. I remember thinking about how "this conference would be better if..." -- and it wasn't long before I found myself in an officer position!!

eInterpreter: What is the biggest benefit of having access to insurance education locally to you and your company?
Thelen: One of the largest benefits for me is the networking experience. It's great to know people from other companies going through the same struggles and events that you are. Maybe they have a better way of doing things, maybe they can benefit from the way you do things. I obtained my current position, in part, because of contacts I made though IASA. There are so many ways that you, and your company, can benefit from relationships built through this organization.

eInterpreter: If money was no object...what would you love to do for a living?
Thelen: I would love to be a traveling photographer. I love to take pictures, and I love to travel. I have taken some classes, and for now, it's just a hobby. Until I win the lottery.

eInterpreter: Do you have any hobbies that could affect your personal insurance premiums?
Thelen: I suppose traveling could be fairly risky, but I'm a pretty tough cookie, so unless the plane is going down, I should be fine. However, I do enjoy water sports. I wakeboard, wake surf, and jump off the top of house boats.

eInterpreter: Do you volunteer for any other organization other than IASA?  If so, which organization and why?
Thelen: I volunteer for the Iowa Society of CPA 'Financial Literacy Committee'. I have been the chair for several years now, and I am truly passionate about this committee and organization. It has really become part of  my life, not just an organization I volunteer for. Our goal for the committee is to provide education for a lifetime of financial literacy. Surprisingly, one of the largest hurdles has been getting in to schools and organizations to educate Iowans. Every connection helps! I will also begin volunteering for a program called Mentor Iowa where I will be paired with a child in the Des Moines area. We will spend time together and provide learning opportunities for one another. The children typically don't have a good role model in their life and I am very much looking forward to offering my time to make a child's life more meaningful.

eInterpreter: Besides family and friends, what 3 things could you NOT live without?
Thelen: Wine, my passport, and my fireplace

eInterpreter: How did you first get started in the insurance industry?
Thelen: I started right out of college when I began auditing insurance companies for Ernst & Young.

eInterpreter: What would you say to a colleague, or even a peer at another company, who has never attended an IASA Chapter event about getting involved?
Thelen: I would say DO IT!!! There's not even really a question. It's SUPER cheap, and you're guaranteed a good time. Unless of course, you sit in your room and cry the whole time. You have to try really hard not to get a laugh out of this event; and the fact that you might actually learn something that counts towards maintaining your CPA license is just icing on the cake. I would also encourage everyone to volunteer in some way, shape, or form at the conference. The more involved you are, the more people you know, and the more fun you have. 

eInterpreter: What is your current job and what aspect of your position do you find most rewarding?
Thelen: I am a Senior Financial Accounting Analyst at Principal. Although that doesn't at all describe what I do. My team and I lead the compliance efforts at Sarbanes-Oxley. I get involved in all sorts of projects, and it seems that there are never two days the same. My favorite, or more rewarding, part of my job is the fact that I get to work with contacts from every single business unit within the company. Principal is such a huge organization, and I love that I never have to lose site of the big picture with my position. Now that may make me a jack of all trades, and a master of none, but they haven't held it against me so far!

eInterpreter: So after a tough day…is your release a good work out, a certain food, or something over ice? 
I'm going to have to say all of the above. Everything is great in moderation, and most things aren't that great in repetition.