Meet Arrow Benefits Group's Mariah Shields, one of North Bay Business Journal's 2019 Forty Under 40

Forty Under 40 winner

Age: 30


Arrow Benefits Group

1 Willowbrook Court, #230, Petaluma 94954


Mariah Shields, 30, principal for Arrow Benefits Group in Petaluma, is one of North Bay Business Journal's Forty Under 40 notable young professionals for 2019.

Responsibilities with your company: I have three core roles within Arrow Benefits Group:

1) Client Development: I am one of two Arrow Team Members whose core purpose is client development. My goals are based on financial metrics that are created by the leadership team. Those metrics are imperative in allowing Arrow to fulfill our commitment to our annual and long term goals for employee development, geographical expansion and increasing our resources to the clients we serve.

2) Arrow Leadership Team: I am part of our five-member leadership team. This team has a set monthly meeting and additional ad hoc meetings when necessary. Our purpose is to creative innovative ideas that allow for company growth and industry development. Additionally, we set management goals that allow for ongoing accountability and efficiency within the organization. Finally, we deal with any high level issues in terms of financial planning and sustainability. 3) Outreach Committee: I co-founded and lead the Arrow Outreach Committee whose sole purpose is to focus on community outreach Through that committee I developed our Volunteering Time Off program. Some of our VTO program opportunities in 2018 included a yard clean up at COTS, sponsoring a Walk-a-Thon for the American Heart Association, having office wide participation in UCP's StepTember event (where employees raised more that $6,000), planting at Petaluma Bounty, and more! Our outreach committee has also developed a $10,000 operating budget that allows us to donate to fundraisers and other important community events. This has allowed us to sponsor numerous non-profit clients as well as other organizations near and dear to our employees hearts.

In addition to our operating budget, that committee facilitated substantial Arrow donations to: 1)United Cerebral Palsy of the North Bay for their roofing project 2)Novato community hospital for a new piece of equipment 3)North Bay Children's Center for their classroom campaign and 4)A major sponsorship for a Big Brothers Big Sisters event in San Francisco.

How do you exemplify the spirit of being a top Forty Under 40 professional?:

I believe through hard work and an investment in time and energy, their are no limits to what our generation can do.

Years with company: 8

Length of time in current position: 2

No. companywide employees: 80

No. who report to you: 10

Greatest professional accomplishment: I think my greatest accomplishment at Arrow has been my focus on organizational development (before I moved into client development). In my role on the Leadership Team, it was my idea to create a Managing Partner position to begin a long term succession planning program.

I was thrilled to nominate Stephen McNeil whose companywide leadership has helped our organization reach the next level. We have increased efficiency and improved role clarity company wide. This organizational change allowed me to move into client development where I am able to make a direct impact on our top level company growth and our bottom line.

Greatest professional challenge: In my industry, most of the professionals in my role have been in the business for 25-40+ years. While I continue to focus on developing my industry knowledge (I live by the motto Always Be Learning), competing against seasoned professionals requires that I am also constantly creating new innovative ideas that will increase my value add offer to prospective clients. I actually think this helps, because it allows me and my counterpart to set new standards for our industry.

Best advice received: Always make sure you enjoy what you do, it will make you even better at it.

Single most important event in your professional life in the last 12 months: While I have helped add over $1,000,000 to Arrow Revenue in the past year, I was incredibly honored to have received the NBBJ Philanthropy Award last year. That recognition was appreciated and helped me re-engage with my personal brand.

I love what I do for a living, but I am passionate about philanthropy and I work hard to create the flexibility in my life to do both.

What steps is your company taking to sustain your organization and morale in the current economy?: Our leadership team often reflects on the quote from a janitor that worked at Nasa. When asked what his job was at Nasa, his response was, “To put a man on the moon.” My leadership team believes that in order for our business to be sustainable and, furthermore, continue to grow, we must ensure that everyone at Arrow understands that they play a part in that outcome.

Forty Under 40 winner

Age: 30


Arrow Benefits Group

1 Willowbrook Court, #230, Petaluma 94954


We sponsor regular (at least quarterly) employee events where we focus on engagement. Engagement to me means that everyone knows why they come to work every day and how each they enable us to reach our goals. Employee success is Arrow success.

Next professional goal: Within the next year I hope to triple my individual client development to allow for additional services (we have specific targets in mind) to be added to our Arrow Services Portfolio.

Education: Graduated from San Marin High School in 2007. Graduated with a Major in History from Lewis & Clark College in 2011. I have also taken numerous HR classes at SRJC. Many of my clients ask me HR related questions that are not related to benefits and I thought it was important to be able to give them that value added service.

Hometown: Novato

Community/nonprofit activities: Current Engagements: 1) Founder of 100 Sonoma (One Hundred People Who Care Sonoma) that has raised more than $50K for Sonoma based non-profits. Join me at our next event on May 22, 2019!

2) 12 year veteran volunteer and Certified Therapeutic Riding Instructor for Giant Steps Therapeutic Riding Center

3) Vice President of the Board of Directors at North Bay Children's Center

4) Secretary of the Board of Directors at United Cerebral Palsy of the North Bay

5) Development Committee member for Big Brother Big Sisters of the North Bay

Mentor/admired businessperson: When I first joined the Sonoma County Professional Women's organization, there meeting centered around mentorship.

One of the panelists said, create your own Board of Directors and have each of them be your mentor. So, my current board of directors includes: Karon Kennedy, Jordan Shields, Susan Gilmore, Margaret Farman, Anthy O'Brien and Craig Smith (my husband).

Typical day at the office: I arrive to my office by 6:30 every day. My first two hours of the day are spent on client emails and work delegation. I leave about 45 minutes to check in with my direct reports to make sure they are prepared to have a productive day.

Then I spend 2-3 hours on prospect outreach over the phone, via email or through LinkIn. I usually set my client and prospect meetings for lunch and throughout the remainder of the afternoon, so you typically can't find me at the office after 12:00. When I get home around 5, I do one more email check in.

Best place to work outside of your office: Giant Steps Therapeutic Riding Center - you will always leave feeling inspired

Hobbies: I love to travel. I am currently preparing for a birthday trip to Canada for 10 days with my husband and another couple.

I own two horses and ride as often as possible. I run a book club with friends and colleagues as a way to stay in touch, read interesting pieces and just have fun. I try to host regular game nights with friends

What you wanted to be when you grew up: I had always dreamed of being a Veterinarian, but science was not my strong suit. But I love what I do and still find ways to be near animals as often as possible. There was also a time where I wanted to be a journalist. I was an editor on my high school and college newspaper.

#1 thing you want to accomplish by the time you turn 40: I hope to be able to start a family with my husband. I will always work, but having a family is a dream.

First job: My first job was at a Renaissance Fair! I sold flowerets to the visitors.

Social media you most use: Tie between Facebook and LinkIn

Favorite book: “The Nightingale” I love historical fiction and nonfiction. The characters in this book were truly engaging and told an unbelievable story about WWII.

Favorite movie: “Fried Green Tomatoes” (“Face it honey, I'm older and I have more insurance”)

Favorite after-work drink: Red wine

Last vacation: Australia! We went with the same couple that we will be going to Canada with. It was a huge bucket list destination for me!

What does your mom or dad brag most about you?: My mom thinks I am the funniest person ever (but clearly she has a severe bias). My father would say my work ethic.

Favorite app: ToDoIst

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