Ramsey Solutions: The Path to Leadership

8 Minute Read

Over the last several years, Ramsey Solutions has experienced a growth explosion. The team has more than doubled in size since 2011, standing at nearly 700 today. And the pace isn’t slowing down. The company has a goal to add more than 250 team members this year.

Throughout this season of growth, Ramsey Solutions has relied on its experienced team members by promoting from within and raising up new leaders to pass along their passion for the company’s mission to hundreds of new hires each year.

“We look for talent and leadership wherever we can find it,” Armando Lopez, Executive Director of Human Resources, said. “Leaders who come from outside the company have helped Ramsey Solutions evolve by bringing in new ways of thinking about how we do business.”

“But the leaders we find within Ramsey Solutions are the reason our team members never forget why we do business—to provide hope. And that hasn’t changed no matter how large our team has grown,” he added.

With such a large team, stories of team members who have been promoted from entry-level positions to department- and even board-level positions are literally around every corner. Here are a few stories from team members who’ve seen their careers take off at Ramsey Solutions.

Getting It Done

Lara Johnson has been with the company for nearly 20 years. She was hired fresh out of college as an administrative assistant and phone screener for The Dave Ramsey Show. Today Lara is the Senior Director of The Dave Ramsey Show and provides day-to-day leadership for both the radio show and video channel teams.

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During her career with the company, Lara built a reputation for dependability and being willing to pitch in wherever she’s needed. “In the beginning, we were such a small team that we all had to wear different hats,” Lara explained. “Sometimes I packed gift bags, or answered the phone or handled the video for an event.’

Her experience with video opened new doors when the company launched a video channel to stream The Dave Ramsey Show live.

“They were looking for someone who knew video but who knew the show even more. I knew a little about video, but hardly anyone knew the show better than I did,” she said.

But it wasn’t just Lara’s knowledge and get-it-done attitude that caught the eye of her leaders.

“Lara has never settled for anything less than excellence no matter what she’s doing,” Suzanne Simms, Executive Vice President of Business to Consumer and Operating Board member, explained. “She sets high standards for her team and approaches leadership with a mentor’s attitude.”

Through that combination of hard work and focus on quality, Lara and her team have expanded the viewership of the Dave Ramsey video channel to more than 7 million in just a few years.

Even in light of that success, Lara’s advice for team members who want to advance their careers is simple, common sense: “I definitely feel team members have the opportunity to move into leadership if they work hard,” Lara added. “I advanced in my career because I was known for being steady and reliable—someone who knows how to get stuff done.”

Under the Radar

That theme—being someone who gets things done—is an important factor in practically all the stories of team members who are promoted into leadership.

Melissa Wilhoite has been the director of Ramsey Care for two years. She describes her team of 15 as the frontlines of Ramsey Solutions’ interactions with its customers. “We handle everything from product questions to questions people might ask Dave about their finances,” Melissa explained.

Like Lara, Melissa also began her career with Ramsey Solutions as an administrative assistant, first for the public relations team and then for the former Director of Customer Care. In addition to those duties, Melissa helped out in Martha’s Place, the company café, and hosted visitors in the lobby during The Dave Ramsey Show.

“My responsibilities just kept growing and often people on the Ramsey Care team would come to me with questions when the director wasn’t available,” she said. “Then, when the director left, I just picked up the ball and kept moving it forward.”

Chief Marketing Officer and Board Member Jen Sievertsen and other senior leaders not only saw that Melissa was capable of leading the team, but that her hard work had flown under the radar for too long.

“Melissa leads by influence,” Jen explained. “She served her team by identifying problems and helping solve them before she was ever officially in a leadership role. The solutions and improvements she proposed made it clear that she was a natural leader and the right person to lead that team going forward.”

Without even asking for an application, Melissa’s leaders offered her the director’s position.

“If you do your job with excellence because you care about the people we’re here to help, you’ll get noticed,” Melissa said. “And that’s not usually people who seek the notoriety. It’s the people who care about our mission.”

Filling a Need

For Joe Leavitt, the desire to be part of that mission led him to take a position in customer care 15 years ago. “It was a way to get my foot in the door and be part of something I was already a huge fan of,” Joe explained.

Joe found his niche when he planned and produced a new event for radio affiliates of The Dave Ramsey Show. He loved the work—and he was good at it. Today he’s the Director of Event Production for Ramsey Solutions Live Events—one of the country’s top event producers.

“If you want to grow, identify an area of need. If it’s a fit and you’re good at it, you have a good chance at that role. If not, your leaders will help you redirect that energy and find a better fit.”

When his team members ask him about leadership opportunities, his advice is to lean in to the work they think the person in that position would do. “Not only will leadership notice, but your peers will also notice,” he explained. “When I promote someone, I want the team to say, 'Oh yeah! That makes perfect sense.'”

Leadership’s Responsibility

Of course, a team member’s journey into leadership isn’t all about toiling away in the shadows, waiting to be noticed. In order to raise up leaders within the organization, today’s leaders must be willing to pour into their team members. Lara, Melissa and Joe said they all have leaders who invest in them—not just at work, but personally as well.

“I’ve grown up with this company,” Lara said. “I got married, had kids and went through a divorce during my career here. My team and my leaders walked with me through it all, celebrating with me or hurting with me.”

Because Ramsey Solutions is known for calling its team members to a higher standard, personally and professionally, leaders don’t leave their team members to navigate the path to leadership on their own. They regularly grab coffee or lunch, schedule one-on-one meetings or mentor team members to help them grow into the next step.

“It takes a lot of trust to have those open and frank discussions,” Joe said. “So, relationship-building is a huge part of a leader’s job.”

Women in leadership can face unique challenges. But with women in 30 percent of Ramsey Solutions’ leadership positions, there’s no shortage of support between fellow female leaders who want to learn from each other. From Operating Board members to vice presidents of business units to department leaders, team members can connect with female leaders at all levels.

“Leaders here are always pouring into me,” Melissa explained. “Jen Sievertsen has mentored me all along the way. And I’ve recently started mentoring with Sarah Sloyan (Vice President of EntreLeadership).”

The Journey Begins Here

It’s easy to pick out the common threads in these stories: hard work, a willingness to learn and the ability to just get things done. But one stands out among the others: Each team member is dedicated to the company’s mission to provide hope to those who need it. They know that Ramsey Solutions exists for the people outside the walls of the company—people who need help with their finances, their careers and their leadership.

In fact, every team member, no matter their title or duties knows how their work fits into the company’s mission. When that’s the case, it’s easy to focus on the work, because it’s work that matters. That’s one of many reasons Ramsey Solutions has won Best Place to Work 10 times.

Does this sound like the kind of place you’d like to launch your career? Take a look at our current job openings and see if you have what it takes to join Ramsey Solutions’ mission.

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