Teresa Wolande was born and raised in Chicago. After finishing high school Teresa attended the University of Iowa in 1983 where she graduated with a BS in economics. From there, she went on to receive her executive MBA in business administration and management at Northwestern University. During that time, she worked for Zurich Insurance Company Ltd. as the vice president of international marketing.
In 1991, she moved on to work for the next 11 years at Aon as their President and CEO. After her successes at Aon, she moved on to Enable where she became President and CEO for three years. She was also the Executive Vice-President of Willis Group Holdings Ltd. for five years. Teresa Wolande has had the opportunity to work alongside many well-known companies, such as Nike and United Airlines.
She was named Woman of the Year in 2000 by the Association of Professional Insurance Women and was named in the top 100 women in the insurance industry by Business Insurance for the last five years of her career.
She has served on numerous charitable boards and foundations that have focused on empowering women and providing an outlet for them to grow their professional and personal lives simultaneously. She is currently retired and the owner of T.M.Y. Styles.
She recently formed a women’s forum group in Naples, FL., to help women with transitions in life, be it into retirement or business-wise. She has two active groups and hopes to form more.
Teresa Wolande’s hobbies and interests include exercising, golfing, reading, current events and politics.
1. In the last few years, what lifestyle, habit or behavior change has had the biggest positive impact on your life?
The biggest lifestyle change that’s had the most significant impact on me has been upping my awareness of both proper nutrition as well as focused exercise. By that, I mean exercising in a way that makes sense for me at my age as opposed to me at age 23. Understanding what you should be doing to maintain your health, that is everything. It’s your mental health, making sure that you’re spending enough time with family, friends, the grandchildren, and also making sure that you’re connecting with your community around you. Otherwise, I think once you retire, unless you can maintain those levels of connectivity, it becomes tough to have a sense of purpose.
2. When you feel unfocused, what do you do?
The minute I start feeling a little bit unfocused, I jump on my Peloton bike to get those endorphins going. It’s a great way for me to step back, regain my focus on what I need to do, and sweat it out. I might sound like a broken record, but that’s a big part of my life and always has been. I was an athlete through college. It’s one of the ways that I got through school. I ran track at the University of Iowa and I think when you come out of an environment like that, you will always revert back to that when you need to regain focus or you need a little time to yourself. It’s something you do to get your body and mind working on the same level.
3. What advice would you give a smart and ambitious recent college graduate? What advice should they ignore?
It’s a different world now since I was that age, but I think the best advice I would give them is to be judicious about social media, and not to waste their time on things of that nature. I watch a lot of young people fall into that trap of spending a tremendous amount of time on social media, paying too much attention to it, and modeling their lives after it. Do not pay attention to that stuff. It’s just not worth your time.
As for advice that they should ignore, when they finish college, people are going to tell them to go out and find a nice, safe job. I think what you have to do is find something you’re passionate about right away because that’s going to give you a great first experience in the workplace. Make sure you get into a job or career as soon as possible that aligns with you and your value system. Find something where you’re excited to get to work when you wake up in the morning.
4. What is one lifestyle trend that excites you? (could be something like Hot Yoga, Healthy Eating, Wearable Exercise Technology)
I’m pretty excited about artificial intelligence. I think that it’s going to be a game-changer, with particular impacts on medical sciences and what that’ll do for people with chronic conditions or disabilities. I think AI is going to change how we will live in the future significantly.
5. With or without naming names (whatever you’d prefer), who has been the biggest influence in your life and why?
My biggest influence was my mother. She passed away when I was quite young, still in my teens. My mother was such an inspiration. She had a chronic illness. She’d had Lupus from the time I was five years old. My earliest memories are of watching her power through it. My mother had nine children, still worked, and yet she maintained an incredibly positive attitude right to the end. She always made things work despite being as compromised as she was. So, anytime I start feeling sorry for myself or I start thinking that things are just not going my way, all I have to do is think about my mother and realize that this is nothing. If she could get through that, I can certainly get through this.
6. What’s one of the biggest life lessons you’ve learned (can be personal or business-related)
One of the biggest life lessons I’ve learned is to not be in such a hurry, especially in terms of your professional career. When you’re young, you’re in a hurry to get ahead and make more money, but if you’re in too big of a hurry, you won’t enjoy the process. I had young children when I was early in my career, and I feel I should have stepped back and said, okay, I need to enjoy all of this. I need to enjoy my accomplishments professionally and realize that I don’t have to accomplish big things every six months. I need to be more well-rounded. I need to enjoy both my personal life and my professional life.
This is something that I think the younger generation is doing much better than my generation did. I see in my children a much better sense of balance, professionally and personally. That might be because with the advances in technology, as many younger adults can work remotely from anywhere. Back when I was building my career, that was not the case. It was facetime at the office and being in on the weekends and sacrificing time away from your family.
7. What do you think it is that makes you/someone successful?
I believe a lot of it is discipline. It’s the understanding that you have to approach everything with a sense of discipline in terms of getting yourself prepared, being prepared, being on time, and doing whatever needs to get done. Also, being respectful. So, I think its discipline and a sense of respect for others and their ideas that is really important.
8. How do you stay motivated?
What motivates me at this point in my life is my family and being with my family and friends. When I feel that I need a lot of motivation, besides hopping on the Peloton bike, I reach out and connect with those I love because just hearing how everyone’s doing and what they’re doing inspires me, especially as you get older. You love to hear how younger people are getting things done. It’s truly inspirational.
9. What legacy do you hope to leave behind?
I hope to leave behind that I was always kind, empathetic and wise. Those are what I want my grandchildren to think about when they remember me, that I was incredibly kind and empathetic. That I listened to them, was there for them, and that I was wise and taught them the ways of what to do when they make their way into the world.