After more than 21 years climbing the ladder in the insurance industry, Debra Dean’s career was a picture of corporate success.
She had a high-paying job, a several-syllable executive title, a nice car and a comfortable home — but despite it all, she still felt empty inside.
She found herself at a crossroads, so not long after moving to Colorado Springs in 2018, the longtime executive for the Transamerica Corporation decided to leave the high salary and stability of corporate life to pursue something more fulfilling.
“I’d always assumed I would stay in corporate,” Dean said. “My mother is still in her corporate job 40 years later and my grandfather was at his corporate place for 40 years or so — so I always just assumed I’d stay there. But it became pretty clear once we moved here that it was time for something different.”
As her family’s primary breadwinner, Dean said leaving her cushy job as director of business transformation for Transamerica was a difficult decision, but one she ultimately had to make.
She’d previously earned her Ph.D. in organizational leadership from Regent University in 2017 and felt it was time to put the degree to good use.
After seeing a need for business coaching and training in her new community, she decided to launch her own business, Dean Business Consulting.
“I felt it was time to push the little birdie out of the nest and go out on my own,” Dean said. “So I built this business by taking all of my corporate knowledge that I have with business transformation and operational excellence and everything I’ve learned through academia.”
As she continues to build her company, Dean’s primary income has come through teaching college students at Colorado Christian and Regent universities, where she teaches a wide range of subjects like communications, marketing ministry, quantitative methods, leadership analytics and other statistics classes.
Outside of teaching and growing her business, she’s a mother of six children ages 12 to 30, and grandmother to four grandkids.
When balancing all of her life and work responsibilities, she said, organization is key.
“Part of our family’s mission in coming here is that I did not want to work 20 hours a day,” Dean said. “I wanted to be able to be more purposeful and get outside and spend more time with the family. So it’s a learning process — I think I’m a work in progress with that — but we’re constantly evaluating our days and weeks to see what activities we are doing that are meaningful and what we should maybe cut out. So it’s really about organization and reflection.”
Dean said her greatest joy comes from helping people achieve their own successes.
“I think that’s kind of my strength and weakness,” Dean said. “For the longest time I would do this stuff for free, because I just love helping people. And oftentimes people are in a situation where they can’t afford to pay somebody to come help them make their business better.
“But I just love helping people and seeing them succeed. And I really love working with people and noticing their potential, which often they don’t see themselves, and to push them to reach certain goals. And as they reach those goals, they become more confident and have more self-esteem, so it’s just a win-win."