Employee Benefits Strategy Advisor, The Gaudreau Group Inc.; Age 27
Jenny MacKay is a numbers person who believes everyone has a chance at being number one.
That’s the attitude she brings to her position as employee benefits strategy advisor with the Gaudreau Group Inc. in Wilbraham, and a lesson she often teaches as head cheerleading coach at Central High School in Springfield.
The worlds of finance and coaching are two MacKay has been balancing since her senior year in college at Western New England University, first as a financial representative with Northwestern Mutual, and later with the Gaudreau Group, where she works with management teams at businesses of varying sizes to design benefit-package plans for their employees.
“I work with them over the years to keep costs down, increase employee engagement, and make sure they’re getting the biggest bang for their buck in terms of benefits plans,” she explained, noting that she often talks about her other professional life with the student-athletes she works with at Central. These include her educational endeavors of a different sort, such as consulting with companies on changes brought about by the Affordable Care Act, serving with the Professional Women’s Chamber board of directors, and serving on various committees with the Chicopee Chamber of Commerce, the Chicopee Boys and Girls Club, and other organizations.
“I hope I’m inspiring them to do something productive and be successful because they see through me that it can be done — every single day,” she said. “They get to see that women can do all kinds of things.”
It’s a message MacKay has been able to pass on to an ever-increasing number of young women; since she took over coaching responsibilities at Central, participation has more than doubled.
The team has started to experience its own successes, too, winning the Western Mass. League Championship for the first time in the school’s history in 2015, and making its first-ever appearance at the state tournament just this year.
“It’s inspiring to me because I want to be successful in my career, but I’m also passionate to help the city grow,” she said, noting that her husband, Jim, shares a similar outlook as a teacher and football coach at Central High School. “We’re helping kids become participating members of the community, and they’re accomplishing such wonderful things.”
— Jaclyn Stevenson
Photography by Leah Martin Photography