The Minneapolis/St. Paul Business Journal has recognized Tammy (Jesme) Laurent ’88 and Suzette (Fleischer) Huovinen ’97 as two of its 2023 Women in Business honorees. The awards distinguish industry-leading executives, entrepreneurs, and business owners for their professional successes and community involvement.
Laurent has been a financial advisor for Edward Jones in Shakopee, Minn., since 1989, ranking in the top 100 women nationally. She was recently tapped to be one of 20 national advisors for Elite Wealth Management. Laurent is co-owner of Stonebrooke Golf Club in Shakopee, and author of “Say Yes to Golf with Anyone: A Woman Golfer's Guide to Confidence and Etiquette, and the organizational book, “Be Prepared for Anything, Anytime.” She is also a longtime Rotarian.
“It’s a great honor to be chosen, but no award is won alone,” Laurent said. “I am thankful for all the mentors who counseled me through my journey, the business coaches who cheered me on, and my work associates who have given me relentless support throughout the years to become my personal best.”
An advocate of pursuing dreams, Laurent is committed to helping the next generation of women in business as an alumni mentor. She is a guest lecturer for business and ethics classes and is a member of Concordia’s Offutt School of Business Global Leadership Council and the Hollstadt Women in Leadership Mentoring Program.
“It’s my turn to give back,” she said. “But more importantly, Concordia helps women dream and then gives them the tools to take action. It’s my job to expand their ability to dream and help them understand how confidence and endurance play into the formula of success.”
“It is my goal to give women at Concordia the ability to dream, the confidence to pursue, and the wisdom to be a good steward of their success,” Laurent added.
Rachel (Nelson) Hollstadt ’70, a recipient of the Business Journal's Career Achievement Award and Concordia’s Alumni Achievement Award, has worked with Laurent for several years through the mentoring program at the college.
“Tammy has not only excelled in her career but has also become a beacon of empowerment for aspiring women entrepreneurs,” Hollstadt said.
Huovinen became president, CEO, and chair of Securian Asset Management this year after starting at the parent company, Securian Financial, right out of college. As the previous senior vice president of finance at Securian Financial, she led the company’s financial planning and analysis, tax, procurement, and other finance functions. She was also responsible for the company’s strategic finance and transformation initiatives.
“It’s very gratifying to be selected and to be included among such a prestigious group of women business leaders,” Huovinen said. “I’m proud of what I’ve accomplished both professionally and in the community — this is a validation of those accomplishments.”
Huovinen currently chairs the Minnesota Children’s Museum’s board of directors, was previously a board member at a theatre organization, and volunteered for the Society of Actuaries.
Like Laurent, Huovinen is a member of the Hollstadt Women in Leadership Mentoring Program. Uyanga "Soka" Naranbaatar ’22 is one of the many students she has helped guide.
“Suzette was a compassionate personable mentor who could actively listen to me and whom I could be vulnerable and share anything with,” Naranbaatar said. “I’ve always been inspired by her and still have the utmost respect for her career and enthusiasm in the field."
Having benefited personally from having strong female mentors, Huovinen is a strong believer in the power of mentorship and sponsorship in furthering one’s career and wants to pay that forward to others.
“I believe we only succeed when others succeed,” Huovinen said. “As one of the few women at the table for many years in my organization, it was important to be a voice for having more perspectives from women. We also are often not great at advocating for ourselves and telling our story — we need others to amplify our voices and give us chances.”
Her advice for students who may want to follow in her footsteps is to find a team or company they can be passionate about being part of.
“Keep learning, and don’t be afraid to ask for new opportunities,” she said. “Do great work and show your willingness to take on new and challenging responsibilities.”
Left photo: (left to right) Rachel Hollstadt, Mary Younggren, and Suzette Huovinen. Right photo: A group of students and alumni at the 2023
Women in Business celebration
Huovinen and Laurent were recognized at a ceremony in Minneapolis on May 19. Finance major Ivana Drocezesky ’24 accepted the award on Laurent’s behalf. In her acceptance speech, Drocesesky said one lesson she learned from Laurent is to always say yes to something out of your comfort zone because that’s the only way to move forward.
A number of Concordia alumni and business students were on hand to celebrate the honorees including Hollstadt, founder of the IT and management consultancy, Hollstadt & Associates Inc. (retired); Mary (Olson) Younggren '80, owner and principal of Advent Talent Group in Edina and a 2022 Women in Business honoree; Elle (Lorenson) Grothaus '92, Global Talent Leader & Global Human Resources Business Partner for Commercial Excellence at Cargill; Desire Atugonza '24, business and computer science major; Asmah Tareen '96, Shareholder at Fredrikson & Byron; Sara Meslow '92, executive director of Camp Odayin; and Matt Dymoke '14, manager of Donor Outreach at Lutheran World Relief.