By Kristian DePue
Only a few years ago, Suzanne Wells was on a medical school track, graduating from UCCS with a double major in psychology and biomedical science. That changed — starting with a first date that put her in the hospital.
Wells met her future husband at a financial services company, where she worked full-time when she was an undergraduate student. He was a runner, and their first date was a Jack Quinn’s Running Club 5K. Near the finish, a skateboard slipped out from under a teen close to the route, going under Wells’s stride and causing her to fall. She was picked up by event staff, and didn’t know she fractured her foot and wanted to finish the date. She went to the doctor the next day and learned that her foot was broken.
A few years later, that painful date led to marriage and a family of five. In the midst of this, Wells had taken the Medical College Admission Test, but quickly determined that medical school might not be the best career course. She took a job at Neurofeedback Colorado Springs, a mental health care provider, as an office manager and began to build from there.
In addition to becoming Neurofeedback’s business manager, Wells now also runs her own financial consultation company, is in graduate school studying finance and health care administration, works as a teaching assistant, and is the treasurer for the Neuro-Therapy Foundation.
How do you juggle so many endeavors?
I’m organized. I prioritize. I’ve learned to manage my time. People have more time than they realize. I’ve learned to recognize squandered time, and I minimize time spent on things that don’t matter. Also, the people I’m surrounded by are an excellent support system that allows me to take on a lot of commitments. My husband is a rock star — we divide and conquer.
Define your role, and make good use of your time and strengths; focus on your strengths. Make use of your resources — that includes other people. My successes are shared because of all the support I have received. It’s like an extended family in this community.
My life is completely different than just a few years ago. Before, I was making choices that weren’t really choices; I was doing things that I had to do. Now, I have so much more freedom. I’m also now being heard; people see me as a knowledgeable resource.
What do you like about working in Colorado Springs?
I was born and raised here, and I have had the privilege to see it grow. I love this community; it is one that supports innovation. If someone has a great idea, chances are that countless people will jump on board to help, and I thrive on collaboration. It was a little sad to give up medical school. I had my sights set on it for a long time. However, my thinking on that has changed. I value having a family and personal life, while still wanting to achieve professionally. Colorado Springs is perfect for what I want. The people here understand the importance of their work contributions, but equally embrace leisure time, which makes for a greater, truer sense of fulfillment.
What are your plans for the future?
I’d love to be an adjunct professor, and also take my financial consulting company to a much larger level. I want to further integrate my business expertise with my science background. Business consultation is huge on the East Coast. Everyone in the field moves east, but it’s an untapped, potential market here.
What advice would you give to other young professionals?
Do not settle. It’s easy to get pulled into the job that pays the bills rather than the job you are ideally suited for. A lot of young people approach their careers from a standpoint of ‘What is the most money I can make doing a job that I could realistically get hired for?’ Instead, you should be asking yourself, ‘What is something that I could do all day, every day, and still love it?’ If you find the answer to that question, you can start carving a path and uncover the necessary resources to get there. It’ll be hard work. However, when you marry your passion with what you are great at, it gives you a sense of purpose, and it makes the hard work worth it.
From there, you just hustle. Learn from people who do things better than you, capitalize on an opportunity even if it’s small, network with people that have similar goals, teach others when you are able, and strive to be the one to beat.