He doesn’t wear a whistle around his neck, but Andres Baltazar is a coach in many ways. As a financial representative with Northwestern Mutual, he helps his clients plan for their futures, and as field director he helps young and ambitious professionals develop successful careers in finance. He’s also active in United Latinos for Empowerment, Education and Development (ULEED), a Chicago-area nonprofit that aims to overcome educational and career barriers for young people. Baltazar is a strong believer in the importance of mentorship, and has experienced firsthand the positive impact it can have on the Hispanic community. “I think mentees are more open to change or learning when they can look to someone who has a similar background as them, someone they can relate to,” he says.
From intern to mentor
Born in Mexico, Baltazar has lived in the United States since the age of two. While attending DePaul University in Chicago, Baltazar found out about Northwestern Mutual’s internship opportunities through his parents’ financial advisor, who was running the program.
The program allowed Baltazar to “test drive” a career in finance, and it turned out to be a perfect fit. He finished his first year as the number one producing intern in his network office, and in May 2008, Baltazar graduated from the program as a top-five intern in the nationwide ranking.
In May 2010, Baltazar put his leadership skills to work as College Unit director for the Northwestern Mutual Office in Skokie, IL. In that role, he was responsible for the selection, growth, and development of college intern financial representatives. He was named the number four College Unit director in the country later that year.
At Northwestern Mutual’s annual meeting in July 2011, Baltazar was presented the award for running one of the most successful internship programs in the company while continuing to advance his own personal practice.
Appointed field director in 2013, Baltazar is now a mentor to five younger mentees at Northwestern Mutual. “Having been on the other side of the table gives me some creditability,” he says. “I know what it was like to be in their shoes.”
Through his work at Northwestern Mutual, Baltazar is always making connections and looking for opportunities to give back. He learned about ULEED through a client, who is also president of the organization, and wanted to get involved. He has been volunteering for the nonprofit for two years, donating his time and sponsoring career development programs.
As a sponsor, Baltazar encourages young Latinos to participate in development, education, and empowerment programs such as the LEED Me workshop series, which includes college application, essay writing, and resume building guidance.
Most recently, Baltazar helped select scholarship recipients. Six scholarships ranging from $1,000 to $1,500 were awarded this year through ULEED’s Community Scholarship Program, which helps underprivileged students further their education. In addition to grades, Baltazar took into account how well applicants were able to express their life goals.
When a client approached him about giving a speech to high school kids about the importance of going to college, Baltazar jumped at the chance.
Making a difference
In all of Baltazar’s roles the most fulfilling aspect is being able to make a difference in other people’s lives. As a financial representative, Baltazar helps his clients send their kids to college, retire, and financially prepare themselves in crises. “In the worst case scenarios, families are at least able to stay together because of the planning we’ve done,” he says.
As a mentor at Northwestern Mutual, Baltazar is proud of how valuable and in-depth the internship program is; interns aren’t making copies and fetching coffee. “It’s a lot more hands-on,” he says. Even interns who don’t choose a career in finance are thankful for the experience to learn about the business world—and themselves.
Baltazar still works closely with his original mentor, who is just a couple of offices down the hall and continues to be a resource for advice and guidance. A highlight of Baltazar’s career was being able to pay it forward to a financial representative whom he recruited to the internship program and who has gone on to secure a full-time position with Northwestern Mutual. “If it wasn’t for our relationship he wouldn’t be here, and he’s doing well,” Baltazar says.
For Baltazar, relationship building is the theme that ties all of his coaching roles together. He takes every opportunity he can to reach out to new people because there’s always a chance his might be the words of encouragement someone needs to think differently—to spark a change that veers the course of a life for the better.
“I think you always have to have someone you’re learning from and someone you’re giving back to,” he says.