Avenu’s Director of Client Success, Deb Stedman, is retiring after 21 years of service to the organization. If you are lucky enough to have worked with Deb, you know that she is a true difference maker that always looks for ways to provide value to others. Her keen wit and sense of humor always brings levity to conversations when it’s most needed. In a final interview, Deb shares her personal background, resolve, her battle with cancer, future retirement plans, and insights on what’s next for Avenu.
Congratulations on your retirement! Before we reflect on your professional career and upcoming plans, I’d like our readers to know a little more about your personal background.
At age 16 you mentioned you broke both of your ankles. What happened?
I am definitely an “all or nothing” type of person. In this situation, I jumped “all in” with both feet and call this story the Agony of De”feet”. While competing at a gymnastics meet, I was doing a trick on a new spring-loaded floor, but finished the twist on the landing. I heard the crack and my ankles hurt, but we taped them up and continued to the balance beam event where I placed 5th (didn’t stick the landing). That night, I couldn’t wait to go to Halloween party because I had a great costume ready-to-go but later had to call my mom. My ankles were swelling and something was wrong. It wasn’t until later that night at the ER that I learned I broke both ankles.
A few years later you met your husband. How did you meet?
My husband Randy and I knew of each other, but we didn’t really meet until I we were 19 years old working that summer at the Hub Diner that was run by his father and Uncle Chuck. What’s funny is that his Uncle Chuck and wife were my parents’ best friends, and I grew up considering them a part of my family. When we were married Aunt Chris (Randy’s Mom) said she knew I would make her my real Aunt.
Randy and I shared a passion for athletics (I played softball in college and he played baseball in college). Back when I was in college there were no cell phones and getting access to a phone was tricky, so we wrote 1-2 letters every single week. I still have those letters.
We both came from large families and didn’t want to place any financial burden on our parents so we worked, waited and saved until we could pay for the wedding that my husband wanted me to have.
This fall we’ll celebrate 35 years of marriage. He is an amazing husband and father to our three kids. People laugh when I say that I got the ‘pick of the litter’ but I truly did.
You mentioned that you both come from large families. What was family life like?
I am the youngest of six kids and my husband is number six of seven kids. I became an aunt at age six and not counting their spouses (let’s not get crazy here) my husband and I have 25 nieces/nephews, 25 Great nieces/nephew and come August – I will be Great-Great Aunt Debbie. In total, we have 8 living siblings, three grown children and 51 nieces and nephews and take great pride and joy in being part of their lives.
You’ve been with the company for more than 20 plus years before it was Avenu. When did you join and in what role?
I first started in 1999 when it was ACS as a Product and Support Manager for Land Records and was responsible for managing the Syracuse data center, developers, support and installation teams. I have a natural tendency to focus on process improvement and was certified in Project Management, Kaizen principles and in Program Management having been in the Xerox PMAX class.
In 2010, Xerox purchased ACS and split my job split into five separate roles and I became a Client Relations Manager. Xerox services became Conduent, and the rest is history.
What has it been like to work for the same organization but go through four name changes and organizational restructures?
As they say, “A Rose by any other name would smell as sweet.” In looking back, it is clear that the good memories certainly outweigh the bad. I feel lucky to have worked with some wonderful peoples over the years. We worked hard, played hard and managed to have some fun in doing so. The most valuable part of my experience has always been the people and I can honestly say that I have made lifelong friends that have not only shaped my career but my life in a positive way.
It must be difficult to finalize a retirement date. How did you go about it?
For me, it was less about a date and more about achieving some milestones. All three of our children are “off our payroll”, gainfully employed in their fields of study, involved in solid relationships (my oldest will be getting married in 2022) and two of them are homeowners. They all live close by to us in Manlius, NY. To quote my friend Mike Mortensen, my husband and I are ‘Living the Dream’. With our kids all experiencing success and venturing into the next phase of life, it was time for Randy and me to take the next step in ours.
What will retirement look like for you?
We will be snowbirds and keep our home in New York to be near family and get a home in Florida. We both plan on traveling, hiking, kayaking, camping, and golfing. At the moment, we’re training our lab puppy, Millie, to canoe. I also plan on getting back into volunteering for the Susan G. Komen Foundation. As a breast cancer survivor, I understand the importance of paying it forward. I will volunteer by supporting those going through chemotherapy, and I’ll also take part in the annual walks and campaigns.
What will you miss most at Avenu?
I will miss being in the trenches with a team and working hard to come out on top. I will miss daily interactions. I will miss the people. I will miss my friends.
Happy Retirement Deb! Please know how many of us you touched, how appreciated you are and how much you will be missed.