This article is part of a series of posts from National Life’s Women’s Inclusion Network. WIN is a concentration of bright and forward-thinking women (and men!) who collaborate on the leadership development, diversification, and empowerment of National Life’s female field affiliates and home office employees.
Director of Life and Annuity Operations, Senait Menghes joined National Life Group in 2014 in New Business Operations supporting our life and annuity business. Senait is a representative on National Life’s Culture Fellows team, a team put together to strengthen, innovate and build the culture for National Life Group, and a member of National Life’s 2020 Strategic Thinking Institute. Additionally, Senait is an integral part of WIN’s leadership team helping develop content for the field, and networking opportunities for both home office employees and our field advocates.
Born and raised in Dallas, TX, Senait has a big passion for seeing the world, making it a point to travel to a couple of international destinations every year. When Senait is not traveling, she spends time with family and friends, and partners with her mother to help women in different refugee sites as they look to establish themselves in this country.
What did you want to be when you “grew up”?
I wanted to be a politician! When I was young, I will never forget when President Bush nominated Condoleezza Rice as Secretary of State. It was so inspiring to see an African American woman in such a position.
Is there a particular woman who has inspired you in life?
My grandmother is my inspiration. I am a first generation born and raised in the states; my parents migrated from Eritrea (East Africa) at a very young age. My grandmother (on my mother’s side) did not get the opportunity to have an education — she married at 16 and had her first child at 18. My mother was her only daughter, and at the age of 16, schools were shut down due to the Eritrean/Ethiopian war. My grandmother knew that if my mom stayed in Eritrea her chances of getting back into school were slim and she did not want her to live the same life she did. At that time, there were family friends heading to Sudan to escape the war and seek better opportunities. My grandparents made the tough decision to send their daughter along, knowing years would go by without seeing one another, but wanted her to build a life for herself and her future family. From Sudan, my mother got a visa to go to Italy where she went to school and later came to the United States. I am where I am today because of the sacrifices my grandmother made, and whenever I find myself discouraged or in a place of giving up, I think of her to find my motivation.
What advice would you give to young women who are just beginning their careers?
Two things. First, take all opportunities that come your way, even the ones that scare you or make you uncomfortable. That’s where growth happens. Second, get a mentor and make sure it is the right one for you, someone who will help you discover the best version of yourself and help you discover your purpose.
What leadership quality do you most admire and aspire to?
Empathy. Leaders can learn the business, execute assignments, and delegate initiatives for completion, but at the end of the day, people do not care how much you know until they know how much you care. The ability to see things from another person’s perspective is when you see effective leaders turn someone’s anger into respect and doubt into trust.
Do you have a cause or a favorite “Do good” passion?
Rays of Light is an organization that provides care to families with special needs children across the spectrum. One way I help the organization is I get to teach basic signs such as, more, hungry, milk, water, food or tired. Expressing feelings and thoughts can be so frustrating to some of these families and children, and sign language is known to be very effective in alleviating that anguish. I enjoy having the opportunity to help make an impactful difference for some children and how they communicate with their family members.
What attracted you to National Life and what would you tell someone who is considering doing business with us?
I was looking for a place I could establish a career and not be a number. Driving home from my previous employer, I would pass our Addison campus and the tall building with the crown caught my eye. I had never heard of National Life Group, and when I got home, I looked up reviews on Glassdoor. Everything I read was what I was looking for — culture centered around people. I remember going to my interview, and as I was going up the elevator there was a woman with me and I noticed her National Life badge. I asked her how long she was with the company and she shared 25 years! I was so surprised that my immediate response was “I didn’t know people still stayed that long with the same employer!” I will never forget her response, “when you find a place that supports you, you will stay more than 25 years…” And it has been an amazing 8 years!
Any other words of wisdom you’d like to share?
Set goals for yourself. Short- and long-term goals are so critical. When goals are not set to help you plan what you are looking to accomplish, you’ll fall for anything and face the chance of not completing anything. Lastly, choose wisely who you surround yourself with. They will either help you become the best version of yourself — people who support, encourage and challenge you for the better — or will encourage you to become a lesser version of yourself.