About six months ago, Tara Mashack-Behney recalls with a smile, she stepped into an initial meeting with representatives of a potential client by herself.
During her 10 years at Conrad Siegel Investment Advisors Inc., she’s been in dozens of these meetings, many filled with boardrooms of men who have been in their particular roles for years. At this meeting with a Lebanon County business, she heard something that wasn’t supposed to reach her ears.
“Is she it?” one board member whispered to the other.
Taken aback momentarily, she then heard the confident response.
“Just wait until she opens her mouth.”
As a woman in the male-dominated world of high-stakes investments, she’s used to hearing those kinds of things. Mashack-Behney, 42, of North Cornwall Township, Lebanon County, has been in that world for about 20 years and has been with Susquehanna Township-based Conrad Siegel Actuaries for more than 10 years, serving as president and partner of Conrad Siegel Investment Advisors Inc. since 2008.
She’s experienced in having to prove herself a little more than a man in her field might, but she has never seen that as a frustration. For her, it’s a good challenge.
“It’s kind of like when you’re a kid, and you’re playing a game,” she said. “You always want to win, right? That’s the mentality I’ve always had with it.”
At Conrad Siegel Actuaries, the parent company of Conrad Siegel Investment Advisors, having a woman in a high-ranking position isn’t anything new: Four of the company’s 18 partners are women.
In 2003, Janel Leymeister, 49, was the second woman in Conrad Siegel Actuaries’ 50-year history to be elevated to partner. She said the atmosphere there fosters anyone who is qualified to be able to rise to a position.
“I think the company has always been about finding talent, no matter where it came from,” she said. “It’s very gender-neutral.”