March 8, 2020
Someone once gave Elaine Bedel a card that said, fearless.
In it, the message thanked her for her willingness to make the world a better place, sharing her talents with others, and doing the things that take us out of our comfort zones.
And after witnessing Bedel Financial Consulting’s 32nd year of operation as president and CEO, being a successful business leader, advocate for women and girls in Central Indiana, and visionary for the State of Indiana as former president of the Indiana Economic Development Corporation and currently as Secretary and CEO of the Indiana Destination Development Corporation, one might add unstoppable to the list of words that describe the scope of her talents.
Born in Batesville, Indiana and raised on a farm, Bedel’s ever-evolving journey began at Hanover College, where she graduated with a Liberal Arts degree, majoring in mathematics. She would then continue her education at Butler University, where she received her MBA with a concentration in finance.
As a result, it was only natural to learn her first job was at Indiana National Bank, where she was first exposed to financial planning.
After ten years of work at Indiana National Bank, she landed at R&R Newkirk, a financial publishing firm, where she was responsible for creating tools for financial planners – and unfortunately, it was also where she learned about mergers and acquisitions. After the firm was purchased and moved to Chicago, she decided to remain in Indiana and after a few years providing financial planning services to the clients of the local office of PricewaterhouseCoopers, she started her own wealth management firm.
Bedel quickly plugged into the United Way community, seeing a direct correlation to the organization’s financial stability pillar. Her company also supports Goodwill of Central and Southern Indiana, one of United Way’s 87 accredited, community-based organizations that also provides people with resources and programs to be financially self-sufficient.
“If we can work alongside community conveners doing the work to put more people on paths to financial stability, we can empower them to make the necessary decisions that will allow them to reach their potential, and, hopefully, break the cyclical patterns that often hold them back.”
Being your own boss is no easy feat – yet even after years of established clients and success, Bedel admits her job never felt like work. The reason she wakes up each morning to put her clients in a position to achieve their financial goals stems from something greater.
“It’s very rewarding to have someone say, ‘I retired thanks to you,’ ‘I was able to start my own business thanks to you,’ I just lost my husband, but thanks to you, I know I will be fine,’ or ‘The stock market is a mess, but I’m not worried,” she stated.
However, her work life changed in late 2016 when she received a call from then Governor-elect Eric Holcomb. He was calling to ask Elaine to accept his appointment as President of the Indiana Economic Development Corporation. Elaine accepted that position and served from January 2017 until November 2019, when Governor Holcomb asked her to serve as the Secretary and CEO of a newly created quasi-government entity, the Indiana Destination Development Corporation, with the mission to promote, brand, and tell Indiana’s authentic story to attract and retain businesses, talent, students, and visitors to Indiana.
“Working for the State of Indiana has allowed me to do two very important things,” she began. “I get to tell our state’s story – everything from the cutting-edge businesses that fuel our state’s economy, the colleges and universities that attract students from around the world – students who will become our next generation of leadership – as well as all the quality of life and place assets that make Indiana a great place to live and visit. Equally, this opportunity to serve the State of Indiana has put a spotlight on the importance of the leadership team and the entire staff at Bedel Financial Consulting. Over the last decade, we have worked to create a culture of sustainability. I was able to accept the Governor’s call to serve only because the firm was in a very good place. While I admit it was not easy, empowering the team to make decisions and implement strategies in my absence has allowed all of us to grow as leaders, which has been a very enriching experience.”
But that’s not the only thing Bedel feels is her personal duty. She also believes that empowering other women and the organizations that support them should be the expectation of every female leader. In fact, Bedel Financial Consulting supports a list of organizations committed to the betterment and advancement of women and young girls in Central Indiana, including Women’s Fund, Girl Scouts of Central Indiana, and the Indiana Fever.
“When I started working, there were very few women in our industry and almost none in leadership roles,” she said. “Today, as a woman business owner, I see it as my responsibility to support women and girls and to ensure they have opportunities to achieve their own success. If I don’t, who will? While there are many men who support women in leadership, it needs to be top of mind for everyone.”
We all know that the story of a fearless, unstoppable, valiant woman is one that is constantly being written. In honor of Women’s History Month and International Women’s Day, Elaine Bedel left us with some advice on how to embrace an #EachForEqual mindset both professionally and personally.
“Do good work for people and help others do the best with what they have,” she concluded. “Show them what their potential can be. When you have the power to influence the future of someone, make sure you bring your best self to every one of those conversations – and the appreciation you reap from it will last forever.” *