By Sarah Wall
When Cathryn Scivicque graduated from Louisiana State University with a degree in Art Education and Fine Arts, surely she never dreamed she’d one day be managing employee benefits or direct billing for organizations and government agencies across the country. But life has had a way of getting her exactly where she needed to be, sometimes without even her knowledge and intention.
“I’m the Senior Vice President at iTEDIUM,” she says, “as well as a shareholder in the company. I deal with our large key accounts, usually public entities, and I also handle all the payroll.”
When explaining what her day-to-day looks like, Cathryn explains, “iTEDIUM is a benefits administrator. Our primary focus is COBRA and retiree and direct billing. We have customers from coast to coast, all employers that have 20 lives or more that have a qualifying plan, with dental and vision as well.”
It wasn’t part of Cathryn’s original plan to go into benefits administration: in fact, she began her career in marketing and design. “When I went to school in advertising,” she recalls, “there were no computers. We did everything by hand – all the storyboards, ad placement, everything. When computers started coming into play, I thought, ‘Well, I can either go that route or not go that route.’ For me, it took away the creativity and what I like to do as an artist. When everything’s done by hand, you get the feel of the paints, the pencils, the ink. They don’t really experience much of that anymore.”
As the graphic design industry changed, Cathryn took the opportunity to do something different, even though it represented a major shift in her career ideation. “I didn’t really know that I wanted to transition from marketing and advertising to benefits administration – it just sort of happened,” she recalls. “An opportunity arose to do something different.”
One of the professional challenges Cathryn has faced along the way has been the constant growth in technology. As a SaaS (“software as a service”) company founded in 2001, iTEDIUM’s technology has grown and shifted exponentially through the years, and Cathryn has pushed herself to take the changes in stride. “It’s amazing how technology has mushroomed,” she says. “It’s challenged me to try and learn as much as I can, and to stay on the path of what’s coming up next. I look to the web for YouTube videos, watching other people do it so I don’t have to reinvent the wheel.”
Cathryn’s personal life, too, has seen challenges that have demanded her to grow. “Before my husband and I got married,” she recalls, “I was a single mom. That was a tough time for me as I tried to get my life in order: I had some financial struggles during that period. I was in the ‘spend more than you make’ mode there for a while. It was primarily because I was a single mom. I worked two jobs trying to make ends meet, and you do what you have to do.”
Cathryn knows now she isn’t alone in facing financial uncertainty and difficulty, especially among single moms. “There are a lot of single moms out there – we employ quite a number of them in our business – and for those in that position, I think it’s important to understand you can overcome financial struggles if you understand where the root cause is, and conquer that,” she says. “You finally figure out, ‘well, I can eat peanut butter and jelly for a while to get this paid off.’ Sometimes it takes longer than others. Circumstances happen where you feel like you’re drowning, but if you persevere, you’ll make it.”
Cathryn credits her husband with ultimately helping her dig out of the financial challenges she once faced. “My husband has been great, helping me work through all that,” she says. “He helped me learn to reinvent myself financially.” It’s her three children who inspire her to encourage other women to pursue strong financial health. “I don’t want my children to be financially obligated if something were to happen to either my husband or to me,” she says. “It’s important for women to learn not to rely on someone else for their finances.”
Whether it’s a professional challenge like learning a new technology, or a personal hurdle like financial difficulties, Cathryn’s core value is embracing the value of hard work – a value she inherited from her dad. “My biggest mentor was my dad, God rest his soul,” she says, her eyes teary. “He always told us, ‘Always have a good work ethic. Work hard at what you do. Try and work in areas that you enjoy, and always be nice to everybody – and you’ll go a long way.’” That has certainly been true for Cathryn.
Sarah Wall is a contributing writer for Smart Women Smart Money Magazine. For questions or comments, email [email protected].