A Closer Look: Andrea Morse
Chief financial officer, ARAG North America Inc.
Friday, January 25, 2013 7:00 AM
• Age: 48
• Education: Bachelor’s degree in accounting, Northwest Missouri State University
• Residence: Altoona
• Family: Husband, Greg, daughters Danielle, 21, and Morgan, 18
Andrea Morse was promoted to chief financial officer of ARAG North America Inc. in December. She joined ARAG, a global provider of legal insurance, in 2006 as corporate controller and was promoted to treasurer in 2011. Her husband, Greg, is a police officer in Des Moines. She enjoys volunteering for Children & Families of Iowa, Meals from the Heartland and the Ronald McDonald House.
Where are you from originally?
I grew up in Nebraska; my parents moved to Beatrice when I was 5 and I lived there until I moved to Des Moines. A lot of kids went to Northwest Missouri State; I got a scholarship and decided to go there.
Was accounting a natural for you?
Actually, I think it was. With my mom being an algebra teacher and my dad a banker; we always kind of had that knowledge base in our family. I absolutely fell in love with accounting because of my high school accounting teacher; he was fantastic. I took two accounting classes in high school and I decided that was what I wanted to do.
How did you start your career?
Right out of college, I worked at McGladrey & Pullen for about four years. Every year, the university picked a student out of their senior population that they felt would fit within the McGladrey organization, and I was chosen that year to be the recipient of that scholarship. That kind of gave you a foot in the door for an interview. The nice thing about McGladrey is you get to touch a little bit of everything. In 1990, I went to work for one of my clients, the Rasmussen Group, and I basically was there for 18 years. ... I had a lot of growth opportunities there because (with an acquisition) I went from working for a family-owned business to a publicly traded company.
How did the opportunity come up with ARAG?
There was a lot of traveling and I wanted to be home more, so I looked outside the company for a better work-life balance.
Are there relatively few female CFOs?
I think there are more and more. I have quite a few friends I keep in touch with who are women CFOs. There are fewer in the international realm of our company, but we’re also seeing an increase in those numbers as well. I think sometimes that’s because we put our career on hold for family, and it’s not an easy profession to maintain. You have to find that balance. I think that’s why women tend not to take that road as much.
What has been a favorite volunteer role for you?
We had a really good opportunity here at ARAG (with Children & Families of Iowa). They had a project where you could remodel some of their dorm rooms for mothers and children who are victims of domestic violence. We bought the materials, painted the rooms, put new curtains up and just decorated so when they came in it was more comfortable for them. I really enjoyed that process, because we actually got to go out to the facility and meet some of the people affected by violence and really do something great for them. I also got to take my children, which was a really good eye-opener for them.
Personal accomplishments in the past few years?
I have a teenage daughter and a 21-year-old, so getting them through school pretty successfully – they’re both in college – that’s probably my proudest accomplishment. And with the children out of the home, I’ve recently hired a personal trainer to improve my health.
What’s your favorite part of living here?
I think it’s a great place to raise a family, and we have enough to do here that it’s not a sleepy town. And as a woman, I think it’s a great place to be in the business community. You work hard and you can be rewarded.
Any special goal on your bucket list?
I love to travel, and I’ve given my children the gift of travel. I really want to go see the world. …. So I would say on my bucket list is to go see Europe in a non-business sense, and travel the United States and see more of that. And I do want to take a (church) mission trip with my husband after our daughters finish college.
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