Interview Conducted by Roberta Hess of Princeton Marketing
Building a Career at TRA
Annie De Haven heads the Human Resources Department at The Retirement Advantage, Inc. (TRA). In its 25th anniversary year, TRA continues to grow — and is actively recruiting new team members. In this article, Annie shares her experience working at TRA as well as insights for those contemplating a career move to TRA.
You’ve been with TRA for most of your career. What first drew you to the company, and what keeps you there?
I was referred to TRA by a friend and was hired as a consultant to help the company through a major acquisition. At the time, TRA was a much smaller company than it is today. So not only did I work in Human Resources functions, but I also took on my own caseload, which gave me a hands-on education in the third-party administration (TPA) business. Michelle Zentner, TRA’s Vice President of Operations, was instrumental in helping me learn what I needed to know. As a result, I took on the responsibilities of many of the positions I ended up recruiting for! The experience was invaluable.
I’ve stayed with TRA over the years because I’ve never had a single boring day at work. It’s a cliché, but it’s true: I literally learn something new every day. The TPA business is so dynamic, there’s always something new to learn. And the people at TRA are incredible.
TRA’s been on a steady growth path over the past 25 years, both through acquisitions and organic growth. What challenges has that posed for the Human Resources team, and how do you continue to meet them?
Both organic growth and acquisitions bring their own distinct challenges. That’s part of the excitement!
I do love the acquisition process. First, there’s meeting the new employees who are coming on board and getting to understand their workflow processes and how they are different from TRA’s.
Fortunately, we have a great Integration and Organization Development team, who serve as the point of contact for acquisitions and is responsible for integrating the expertise and best practices from the companies we’ve acquired into the TRA model. That means we want to hear the thoughts and ideas of people who join us through acquisitions.
As far as organic growth goes, we’re continually assessing where we are now when it comes to organization structure and positions, versus where we want to be five years or more down the road. We’re constantly improving processes and procedures and our structure has got to adapt as needed.
Looking beyond specific position descriptions and required professional qualifications, can you share some of the personal qualities you like to see in candidates applying for positions at TRA?
Personally, I really look for people who want growth and development, whether it’s for their career progression or enhancing their skills and knowledge. Professional development is a big part of our culture and anyone who has the desire to keep learning really stands out. We want team members who are feeding off one another’s best ideas to challenge one another and grow together.
I remember that years ago Michelle Zentner told me if someone’s willing to learn, she could teach them anything — but no one can teach someone to have a work ethic of constant improvement and collaboration. And I’ve found this to be true, as well.
If someone’s interested in joining the TRA team, what are the best next steps to take?
It’s simple: Check out the current postings on our website – and apply online. We’ve also provided FAQs to help guide you through the process.
Any final thoughts to share with people thinking about becoming part of TRA?
I want them to know how much TRA truly values our employees. Without them we’re not who we are. We’ve got an incredible group of people and we’re fortunate to have every single one of them — and we look forward to welcoming still more to the TRA team!