Cortnay profile picture

Project Manager
Agency Services

Bellevue, WA

How would you describe your job to someone who has no idea what you do?
I am a project manager for a department that services all three business lines (Retirement, Benefits and Life) here at Symetra. The main focuses of our department are onboarding distributors and paying them commissions once they sell. I am responsible for managing one or two small to medium projects at any given time that support these missions. I am also in charge of capacity planning for the business analysts in my department. That includes serving as a product owner/liaison for one of our IT teams and plotting out their work in two-week sprints. 

How did you get into your line of work?
I was a manager at McDonalds for several years and needed a change, so I hopped online and applied at Symetra’s former parent company. The manager I interviewed with remembered me handling a problem she and her family had with their meals at McDonalds and she was impressed with my level of service. I got the job and the rest is history! Moral of the story: Always do your best in all you do, because you never know what door it might be opening!

What skills do you use most in your job?
The skills I use most in my job are organization, adaptability and communication. 

How does your job help Symetra’s customers, your coworkers or the company?
As a project manager whose projects often affect how our distributors get paid, it is important to run a tight ship and deliver projects on time. Putting on my capacity planning hat, I keep workloads balanced and planned out to the best of my ability. When workloads are balanced, it creates an environment with less burnout and fosters room for clearer thinking and better decision making. 

What keeps you at Symetra?
I love what I do and who I get to do it with. I have worked with at least half of my co-workers for my entire career and I consider them friends. I’m also fond of Symetra because they understand that commuting around the Bellevue/Seattle area can be a pain, and they allow you to work at home on occasion to alleviate some of that headache. 

What do Symetra’s Core Values mean to you? How do you apply them to your daily work?
Being a project manager, I get a front-row seat to seeing how important “winning as a team” truly is. Many of the projects I help manage have tentacles touching all parts of the company. I thank my lucky stars that we have a talented group of people who naturally are “dedicated to excellence,” which makes my job easy!

Working for a company that is “swift to serve” makes me proud. In the past decade, there have been several tragedies where Symetra has come through with donations to the Red Cross to help aid those in need. And for me, on a daily basis I try to deliver whatever is being asked for, by whomever it is being asked for, in the timeliest manner possible. 

What advice would you give to someone starting out in your field?
Most of your stakeholders and subject matter experts will have no project management experience, so you need to help them understand why some of the project management disciplines are in place. 

What would people find most surprising about your job or Symetra?
The project manager position is not a mundane position here at Symetra. Managers aren’t limited to just running projects and calling it a day. For example, I had expressed my love for organization and SharePoint software, so I was appointed the SharePoint Business Analyst for my department! 

How do you enjoy your time away from work?
I enjoy spending time with my husband at car shows throughout the country, bargain hunting at thrift shops, going to wine tastings and entertaining my two kittens. I also enjoy spending time with my 20-year-old son who is on the road to becoming a pharmacist. 

What else would you like people to know about you, your job or Symetra?
Symetra is a fantastic place to work with loads of opportunity to advance. It is a place where fresh, out-of-the box ideas are encouraged. 

View more Symetra Employees